Central Ohio – May 2021 – Weekend Wanderings

With minimal travel we had a weekend hiking close to home that gave a few photo ops of downtown Columbus, as well as nearby Licking County.

The trip to Licking County included a hike in Blackhand Gorge Park. Named for a (now long gone) Native American petroglyph the hike goes through a small ravine along a creek. The sandstone cliffs have a variety of vegetation growing on them.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the backroads of the county.

We came across this fantastic abandoned schoolhouse. As I approached for a closer look the bird came flying out adding to the excitement.

Lancaster, Ohio – May 2021 – A Historic Town With a Big Hill (or Small Mountain)

Lancaster is a town 30 miles southeast of Columbus. As one of the earliest settlements in Ohio, it has a number of historic buildings.

This site was chosen where the Zane Trace Trail crossed the Hocking River near a 250′ high sandstone hill. Now known as Mt Pleasant , a hike up offers great views of the area.

Lancaster is the birthplace of a number of famous people, none more than Civil War General William Sherman.

North Central Ohio – May 2021 – Wanderings on a Saturday

A recent Saturday was spent wandering the back roads of North Central Ohio from Columbus all the way to Lake Erie.

First stop was in the small town of Mt Gilead, the county seat of Morrow County. The old county jail dates from 1850.

Next door is a soldiers monument.

Next stop – Galion, where we checked out the old train station and theater.

The Huron County Courthouse clocktower in Norwalk.

At last – the Lake Erie shoreline in the town of Huron. The lighthouse was built in 1939, reflecting the style of the period.

Sandusky is the center of the lakeshore for this area. Home to what is generally acknowledged as the best amusement park in the world (Cedar Point), Sandusky relies heavily on tourism.

Starting back south we made a stop in Castalia, at the fish hatchery. Unfortunately it was closed, but the nearby creek has a number of well feed fish, along with some birds looking for lunch.

We passed through Bellevue and had the photo op of a very long, slow moving freight train passing the Mad River Railroad Museum – providing a contrast of the size of locomotive from the past and today.

Time to cruise on home, amazingly following the same vintage car southbound that we were behind for about 20 miles going north earlier.

Akron – May 2021 – Attention to Architectural Detail

With the invention of the production line for the automobile a few cities grew at a tremendous rate between 1910 and 1920. Akron, home of the rubber companies, was one of those. In 1910 there were less than 70,000 people in the city, by 1920 it had tripled to over 200,000, with an additional increase of 50,000 by the 1930 census.

As a result there is a plethora of architecture from the era.

Our first stop is a great apartment building in the Highland Square neighborhood, dating from 1927. The neighborhood is very eclectic, with a great collection of shops and cafes.

The Polsky Building was one of two major downtown department stores, serving shoppers from 1930 until it closed in 1978. This art deco masterpiece was famous for the Christmas displays in their windows.

Today the University of Akron owns the building, using it for classrooms, with the art students using those same windows for displays.

The Mayflower Hotel was for many years the place to be in downtown Akron. For it’s opening in 1931 roses were dropped from airships (blimps) onto the roof of the Zeppelin Observation on the roof of the hotel.

While the hotel itself was named after the famed ship that brought pilgrims to the new world, the restaurant was Hawaiian themed.

Not long after it opened it was the location of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935.

The Rubber Room paid homage to the primary industry of the city by having nearly all the fixtures made out of rubber. Note the ‘tire lights’ in this period photo (found on pintrest). Sadly the great murals were lost during a remodeling in the 1980s.

The hotel has for the last few decades been a senior citizen home. Today it is going through another remodel, but will remain affordable senior housing.

The ATT Building (Ohio Bell) continues the Art Deco trend as Akron boomed in the 1920s and 1930s. Much like the Cincinnati Bell building seen on our visit to the Queen City, this building was designed to support the massive switching equipment needed for the telephone service of a large city.

Examples of this design include enhanced ventilation to keep the equipment cool, and a four foot thick concrete pad as a floating foundation.

The vertical lines of the exterior make this 7 floor building seem much taller, while providing the traditional art deco attention to detail.

The Akron YMCA was founded in 1870, but didn’t have their own building until 1904. When that building was outgrown, they built this 200′ tall, 17 floor building.

It is unique in that is set a few blocks away from the rest of the downtown buildings, and it is in an orange-ish brick instead of the stone art deco look of it’s time, but does retain the art deco styling.

Akron is likely one of the few cities that the tallest building in town dating from the 1930s, the Huntington Tower. Opened in 1931 as the Central Depositors Bank and Trust Company Building, it has been renamed numerous times, always after a bank.

This classic limestone exterior rises 28 floors above the street now named for basketball star LeBron James (King James Way). This height allows it to serve as a falcon nesting space.

The Cleveland based architects of Walker & Weeks also designed Severance Hall and Cleveland Public Hall.

The sculpture that is above the main entrance is known as ‘Security’, emphasizing the banking background.

A look around the South Main Street historic district at a few of the other buildings in the neighborhood. While there are a few taller buildings dating from the 1960s and 1970s, the newest being from 1976, most are from the 1920s and 1930s, including 11 of the 18 buildings at least 100′ tall.

As previously noted Akron has been since the early days of automobiles the home of tire production. One of the four largest tire producers in the world, Goodyear, remains in the city.

One of their primary buildings is Goodyear Hall. Located about 2 miles east of downtown, this massive 7 floor structure takes up an entire block. Constructed over 3 years, it opened in 1920.

At one time this building housed an auditorium with over 1600 seats, gymnasium with 5000 seats, bowling alley, rifle range, and a cafeteria that served over 8000 people a day. Much of the building has been redeveloped into apartments, with the theater still in tact and in use, as well as the gymnasium (albeit with less seats).

Mill Street Bridge connects the main University of Akron campus to downtown. It is lined with some reliefs honoring Akron history, and from this vantage point offers a view of the aforementioned Huntington Tower.

Akron has a nice collection of government buildings including the historic post office, library and county building.

While Goodyear is the center of life on the east end of town, Firestone was the mainstay of the south end. While there is still some Bridgestone/Firetsone facilities in the area, it is a shell of what it once was as the headquarters relocated to Nashville years ago.

The Selle Generator Works building at the south end of downtown is also on the historic registry. One of the few structures dating prior to 1900, it is the remaining building of a much larger complex.

Today it is known as the Haunted Labratory, this great looking art deco building next to Fulton Airport, and the Airdock was the Guggenheim Airship Institute.

Founded in 1929 by Daniel Guggenheim was founded to aid in the study of improving all aspects of airship, including aerodynamics, meteorology, and others. The building also housed a vertical wind tunnel, capable of wind speeds of up to 125 mph.

The last photo is of a relief on the back of the building of an angel holding an airship (photo from Akron Beacon Journal – I failed to go the back of the building, but it is too cool to leave out – next time I will walk around the building!)

This art deco terminal was built for aviation, but not airplanes. This being Akron, it was built in anticipation of the expansion of airship passengers. Today it serves as an office building for a medical equipment company.

It was designed by the same person, Michel Konarski, that designed the Guggenheim Airship Institute just up the street.

Our final stop on the way home was in the small city of Wooster for a quick look at the very fine Wayne County Courthouse.

Cincinnati – May 2021 – Architecture

The Cincinnati architecture tour starts with a view of the historic City Hall. This impressive Romanesque building dates from 1893, after taking 5 years to build. The design was intended on reflecting the taste of the German descended majority of the population of the city at the time.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum (back side). Dating from 1907, the building is on the National Register.

The Plum Street Temple (now known as the Isaac Wise Temple), was built in 1865, with construction occurring during the Civil War. As with City Hall, which is caddy-corner from the temple, it is built in a style (Byzantine Moorish) that was popular in Germany at the time.

With World War II, all the temples in Germany in this style were destroyed, leaving only this and one in New York City in this style.

The Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building – This art deco building was completed in 1930.

Note the frieze – it is a series of rotary phones.

One interesting note, in the 1930s it contained the worlds longest straight switchboard (photo from Cincinnati Enquirer article). The floors were built at an unusually tall for the time 12′ high to support the equipment.

The western end of Garfield Place has a number of interesting structures.

The red brick building is the 1891 Waldo Apartments. The designer, Samuel Hannaford, also designed the Music Hall, nearby City Hall, and the Hooper Building.

The Covenant First Presbyterian Church is another late 1800s religious building. Both the church and the Waldo are on the National Registry.

William Henry Harrison is overlooking the entire scene. The statue’s statement of ‘Ohio’s first President’ is a bit of a controversy, as Harrison was born in Virginia, but elected from Ohio.

The Doctors Building is just down the block, on the south side of Piatt Park. The building has an impressive terracotta façade, while the construction itself is brick and concrete.

The east end of Piatt Park has a wider view of the Doctor’s Building on the left, as well as a statue of James Garfield.

The Garfield statue was commissioned just 2 years after he died, finally being unveiled in 1887.

Tucked in what is essentially an alley, the Cincinnati Gymnasium and Athletic Club dates from 1902. The club claims to be the oldest continuously running athletic club in the country, including Rutherford Hayes once being a member and president of the club.

In a controversial move the club would hold basketball games against other clubs, charging an admission and sharing the proceeds, thus making them ‘professional athletes’ in a time where that was frowned upon.

The Second Renaissance Revival Building was named to the National Registry in 1983.

The former Shillito’s Department Store building is unique in that the front and one side is very Art Deco in style, but the back is a far more traditional look.

TV fans of the 1970s will recognize this building as the home of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’. In reality it was the home of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.

This limestone building was opened in 1926. Today it is home to a couple of hotels.

Cincinnati was clearly a boom town in the 1920s, as yet another of the classic buildings, the Taft Theater, opened in 1928. This art deco hall seats 2,500, and is used for touring Broadway shows and concerts.

The John Roebling Bridge is one of the highlights of the city. When completed in 1866 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 1057′. This was supplanted by his more famous Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.

A mix of old and new – the St Louis Church. Another 1930s building, it’s location at Walnut and East 8th Street is located along the new Cincinnati Streetcar route. Ironically the streetcars that would’ve been there when the church was built was torn out in the 1950s, only to be replaced by this new system costing $148m.

Just down the street, and a few decades before, streetcars ran everywhere. (photo from Wikipedia – ‘Metro Bus’). If only they had left the tracks.

Easily the best (in my opinion) is Cincinnati Union Terminal. Once a grand train station (still a small Amtrak station), it is now a museum center.

The building is known as the second largest half dome building in the world, after the Sydney Opera House.

Two landmarks for one – Fountain Square and the Carew Tower.

Fountain Square has been the center of the city since it was installed in 1871. The fountain’s name is ‘The Genius of Water’.

The Carew Tower was the tallest building in the city from it’s opening in 1930 until it was surpassed by the Great American Tower in 2010. While the interior is very ornate, the exterior is a very basic approach towards art deco.

Our tour complete it is time to get out of town at the 1937 Lunken Airport Terminal.

Dayton, Ohio – April 2021 – Historic Buildings

The National Historic Registry shows more than 100 buildings in Dayton on their list. These include:

The Benjamin Kuhns Building. Opened in 1883, the Kuhns Building is in the Romanesque Revival style.

ATT Building – While not on the historic registry, the ATT building is in the classic Art Deco design.

Old Post Office and Federal Building – Construction on this building started in 1912, and it was still under construction during the great flood of 1913. It was finally opened in 1915.

It remained the main post office until 1969, and the Federal Court until 1975.

Dayton Daily News Building -(foreground) and Sacred Heart Church (rear) – Legend has it that the founder of the Dayton Daily News (James Cox) was turned down for a loan by a local banker, he told an architect to ‘build me a damn bank’, so the newspaper office was modeled after the Knickerbocker Trust building in New York City.

It was completed in 1910, expanded in 1920s, 1950s and 1970s, and abandoned in the 2007. The newer sections have been torn down, leaving only the 1910 portion.

The Commercial Building – Completed in 1908 next door to the Dayton Arcade, it was designed by Albert Pretzinger who is known as the greatest architect in Dayton history. It is being restored as apartments.

Dayton Arcade – Completed in 1902, the Dayton Arcade is an ornate complex of buildings topped by a glass domed rotunda 70′ high. It is said to be patterned after a guild hall in Amsterdam. It has been disused for a couple of decades, but new proposals are being put forth to restore it.

Below is a view of the interior and dome as it looked when it was first opened in 1902. The building consisted of two floors of commercial businesses, and two floors of apartments.

The Conover Building – A mish mash of styles and construction materials, the Conover was modified over the years, as evidence from the 1903 photo from Shorpy below.

American Building – One could argue that only the façade of this building is on the registry, as it was moved from a historic building to this building after the other was demolished.

Engineers Club of Dayton – Dating from 1918, this building was dedicated in a ceremony that included the reclusive Orville Wright speaking.

Dayton Memorial Hall – This William Earl Russ designed hall was opened in 1910. It is constructed of a brick exterior, ceramic tile roof, and highlighted by terra cotta and stone.

Easily one of the oldest buildings in Ohio is the Victoria Theater, dating from 1866. It burned in 1871, and was rebuilt and re-opened in 1885.

Another building that is not on the registry but should be is the Miami Conservancy District. Named after the nearby Miami River, the conservancy was founded after the disastrous 1913 flood.

And with that our day in Dayton is done.

Dayton, Ohio – April 2021 – Mural Groupings

The city of Dayton, as with most American cities, have a decent number of murals.

In Dayton it seems they are grouped together by themes.

The riverbank has a large concrete flood wall that has a mural it’s entire length.

Another large collection celebrates Dayton’s history in Funk Music., an R & B mainstay in the 1970s and 1980s.

Not far away is a freeway retaining wall with the history of the Dayton Fire Department.

Union County, Ohio – April 2021 – Coming Back From the Dead (of Winter)

With winter finally over, and April here, there are more signs of spring. An afternoon out in the country included a stop at the Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery State Nature Preserve. This area is known for it’s native grasses, but they aren’t yet growing.

There are some interesting mid 1800s headstones though.

There are however many signs of life.

Nearby is the Big Darby Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve, one of the few nature preserves that allow dogs on the trails.

There are many examples of early bloomers.

It is nice to get out of the house and into nature again.

Southeastern Ohio – October 2020 – Random Views

While travelling around for great drone views, there are still plenty of views from the ground.

Rock Mill and Covered Bridge – Fairfield County

Fairfield County Fall Views.

Interesting pattern to a vacant building covered in weeds in bloom, in October.

Fall views in Licking County.

Dillon Reservoir.

Fall view with Muskingum River in the background.

Industrial Scene in Zanesville.

Dam and Locks in Philo.

Vintage bridge in McConnellsville.

Classic architecture in McConnellsville.

Former coal mining town of Glouster.