Columbus – June 2018 – Old Oaks Neighborhood House and Garden Tour

Like many cities in America Columbus had significant growth in the early 1900s. One of the main drivers of this growth was the development of streetcars, which allowed people to live further than walking distance from their place of work.

One of those neighborhoods in Columbus is the Old Oaks neighborhood just southeast of downtown. When the streetcar line was electrified in 1891 the neighborhood followed shortly after.

On this sunny warm June day they had their annual Home and Garden Tour. But before we could tour the homes we made a stop at Holy Rosary St John Church to purchase our tickets.

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The church has impressive stained glass throughout.

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But we were here to tour the neighborhood …

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As with many inner city neighborhoods there had been a long period of lack of investment leading to deterioration. Many neighborhoods, including Old Oaks, has had an infusion of gentrification over the last 20-30 years.

While many Columbus neighborhoods have had a near complete gentrification, Old Oaks still has a mix of the original residents and those who have come in and rehabbed a home.

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The neighborhood is nearly all stately brick homes.

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There is an interesting mix of those that are in dire need of repair, those that have been fully restored, and then those like this one that are in between. It is understandable with the amount of work and money it takes.

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Amongst the large brick homes is this beautiful Craftsman style home – note the house on the left is boarded up – waiting for the right person to come in and bring her back.

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Not all of the homes shown here were on the official tour, but grace the streets of the neighborhood.

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With the flags it is clear you are in Ohio – USA.

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At the edge of the neighborhood, along Livingston Avenue is Greek Revival style home that was built much earlier than the rest of the neighborhood – dating from 1852. Known as the Caroline Brown home, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad to freedom for slaves prior to, and during the Civil War of the 1860s.

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A few of the interiors of the homes were open for inspection.

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They were all beautifully restored and decorated.

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A great use of an old pull down school map – a window shade!

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Some had stained glass windows (you can also see the use of stained glass from the street as well).

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Fireplaces were present in many of the bedrooms.

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All of the homes have excellent wood work throughout.

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Another example of a bedroom with a fireplace.

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An older look was present in one of the homes.

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The highlights though were the garden tours – this one featured a massive pergola leading to the original (apparently un-restored) garage.

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An arch frames the garden of another home.

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If nature wipes out your tree, make it art.

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One of the homes had extensive outdoor living space including a pool and a palm (Ohio palm tree?)

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Another had a number of artistic touches include beer bottles made into candles.

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The garages are in the rear, as originally they were carriage houses, to house horses. Alleys line all the houses in the back.

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Technically not a garden, but the front porches were great – giving the neighborhood a sense of community.

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Old Oaks is a community in transition but as is remains a vibrant part of the city. Thanks to all who shared their homes and gardens!

As our tour ended back on Livingston Avenue, we visited the boyhood home of Eddie Rickenbacker, truly one of America’s great men. Raised in this humble house in the early 1900s, Eddie went on to become a record land speed racer, a World War I fighter pilot, a pioneer in the development of Aviation, and many other things.

For some interesting reading about one of Columbus’s great native sons check out the wiki page on Eddie. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Rickenbacker

Somebody should make a movie (although they did back in the 1940s it could be done so much better now – and Eddie has the stories that would be worth telling).

 

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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Sands Point, NY – May 2018 – Sands Point Preserve

Our final stop on our tour of North Shore Mansions was Sands Point Preserve. This estate contains two primary mansions, the Hempstead House and Castle Gould.

Castle Gould was built to be a replica of Kilkenny Castle.

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Which from a distance has a strong resemblance.

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As with the other estates this one too borders the Long Island Sound. While these mansions remain much like they were 100 years ago, the others nearby have been torn down and replaced with modern houses.

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Back up on the hill you again get a nice water view.

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The Hempstead House features well kept gardens, although large tents mar the view (for all of those brides from Planting Fields I guess)

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This home too features a large turret.

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The entryway has massive wooden doors, with a smaller side door for actual use.

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Clearly if you are going to visit Long Island Mansions of the past, don’t do it on a Tuesday – they are all closed to tours.

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Cove Neck, NY – May 2018 – Sagamore Hill

As American presidents go, none were more interesting than Teddy Roosevelt. Born and raised in New York City Teddy did as many wealthy people of the time did, he bought an estate in the country. In his case he purchased 155 acres along the North Shore of Long Island, near Oyster Bay. By 1887 a home was completed and Teddy moved in.

 

 

 

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Today the estate is part of the National Park Service. As you arrive and park about 100 yards away at the visitor center, you approach the home from the rear therefore the first close up you get is of the ice house. Without refrigeration an ice house was an integral part of life.

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Making our way around the exterior (once again we arrived somewhere that was closed to tours for the day) we were greeting with a view of an eagle sculpture on the side of the home.

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When it was built in the late 1800s it was thought to be a very modern looking house.

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On this closer view of the front you will note that a portion of the railing is missing. Teddy has this removed so he could more easily address crowds that regularly gathered on the front lawn.

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The front porch is massive, and the awnings add to the comfort on a warm summer day even more.

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The traditional entrance featured a porte cochere (carriage porch).

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Our final view of the home provided an interesting perspective up the hill past the ice house to the main house. Note the numerous roof lines.

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Nearby Teddy Roosevelt Jr later built his home.

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The estate property goes all the way down the hill to Cold Spring Harbor. Sagamore Hill is a great place to spend a couple of hours – just try and time it when the house it open!

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New London, CT – May 2018 – Crossing the Long Island Sound

If you are in New England and you want to go to Long Island you can either make the drive to New York City and backtrack back out the island, or you can take a cross sound ferry.

We made a choice to take the ferry from New London, Connecticut to Orient Point, New York. With a full day in Boston, we showed up in New London in the early evening and spent the night before taking the 1st ferry of the morning.

We spent our evening in New London having dinner (an interesting experience at Tony D’s Italian restaurant) and walked the downtown area, where it was apparent the architectural firm that designed the library was the same one who had designed the Waterworks in Boston, as the buildings had a strong resemblance.

 

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The schooner Amistad is docked in the harbor.

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While along the harbor front is a row of American flags.

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A fountain celebrates the whaling history of the city.

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The New London Union Rail Station was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in the late 1800s.

 

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A centerpiece for the town is a schoolhouse that Nathan Hale taught at before the Revolutionary War.

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The next morning we caught the ferry out of town. It offered a nice overview as we left.

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Including the impressive interstate bridge over the Thames River.

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Past the lighthouse and into the Long Island Sound.

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We were on the slow ferry since we had the car with us. Soon the passenger only Sea Jet ferry caught us and passed us in their 40 minute crossing, whereas ours took 80 minutes. But soon we were on Long Island and continued our trip.

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Milan, Ohio – May 2018 – Unexpected Architecture at the Library

For decades I have heard that Thomas Edison was born in Ohio. Finally since we were in the area we decided to visit.

 

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While they did have a small display of some of Edison’s inventions, overall the home is exactly that – a small home from the 1800s with period pieces. Nice – but not our speed.

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As we were leaving town we noticed the really cool library – so we stopped to take some photos. Outside were a number of people playing Pokemon and as we were checking out the building one of the group walked over to speak to us.

It turns out we had the good fortune to meet the Director of the Library – James. He is rightfully proud of his library, and was more than welcoming in showing us around.

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The library was built from a Carnegie Fund in 1912. The detail they gave this library in this small Ohio town is stunning.

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Later additions have stayed true to the original architectural styles.

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It is virtually impossible to tell the difference between old and new.

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Inside is interesting as well.

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Artwork is display on the bookshelves …

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… and walls – a tribute to Edison.

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In my opinion the entire building has a Frank Lloyd Wright feel to it. If you find yourself in Milan, Ohio the best building in town is not Edison’s birthplace – it is the local library – ask for James 🙂  (thanks James!)

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Bellevue, Ohio – May 2018 – Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum

While I am a fan of all types of transportation, I am not a train fanatic like some. Still, even though we had recently been to a major train museum in Pennsylvania this Saturday brought up another opportunity to check out one closer to home – The Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The drive up to Bellevue paralleled a major rail line, and a stop in the town of Bucyrus to check out their historic station was interrupted as we waited out a 150 car freight trian.

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Eventually we made it to Bellevue and the Mad River – Nickel Plate Railway Museum. The name requires some explanation – Mad River is flows for 70 miles across Ohio. It gained it’s name from the ‘mad rapids’ that occur along much of the river.

The New York, Chicago and St Louis Railway was founded in the 1880s, but was based in Cleveland. It was given the nickname Nickel Plate from a local newspaper who thought it’s financial prospects were ‘nickel plated’ – or very good.

 

 

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The museum has an indoor area with a number of small artifacts including dinnerware and waiter uniforms.

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One of their prized possessions is the bell from the Lincoln Funeral Train.

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In addition to the rail rolling stock they have a couple of nicely restored trucks.

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What sets this rail museum apart from the others is nearly all of the cars are open for inspection, including numerous cabooses.

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Outdoors are many more rail cars – including numerous box cars that house even more artifacts. Below is a telegraph desk.

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They also have a nice collection of tools – note the ‘track level’

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Many of the cars are connected together to pass between them. All have been restored to original vibrant colors.

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A small station was brought from a nearby town.

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It too is restored to original condition.

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The cars are fairly packed into their yard – but as the rain came this was welcome.

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A manual brake on a car.

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They also have a beautiful postal car.

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As well as some switching lights.

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A diesel locamotive.

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The venting on the side gave it an aerodynamic feel.

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Literally across the tracks was an area with a few more restored cars, as well as a couple un-restored ones next to some cool giant, empty concrete silos.

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But alas we have reached the end of the road. This rail museum is well worth the visit, with their great collections in the rolling stock that allow you to actually go in and check them out.

Given that Bellevue is on multiple active rail lines the constant train whistles in the background made it even better. It was all very cool.

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