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.

2018 06 10 16 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

The church has impressive stained glass throughout.

2018 06 10 9 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

But we were here to tour the neighborhood …

2018 06 10 28 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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.

2018 06 10 29 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

The neighborhood is nearly all stately brick homes.

2018 06 10 42 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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.

2018 06 10 45 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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.

2018 06 10 47 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 61 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 62 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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.

2018 06 10 72 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 23 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

They were all beautifully restored and decorated.

2018 06 10 24 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 27 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 33 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

Fireplaces were present in many of the bedrooms.

2018 06 10 34 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

All of the homes have excellent wood work throughout.

2018 06 10 68 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

Another example of a bedroom with a fireplace.

2018 06 10 69 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

 

An older look was present in one of the homes.

2018 06 10 79 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

 

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

2018 06 10 22 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

An arch frames the garden of another home.

2018 06 10 40 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

If nature wipes out your tree, make it art.

2018 06 10 46 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 55 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 65 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 66 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

 

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

2018 06 10 70 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

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).

 

2018 06 10 86 Columbus Old Oaks Neighborhood House & Garden Tour.jpg

 

Sugarcreek, OH – June 2018 – Age of Steam Roundhouse

The Age of Steam Roundhouse located in the countryside outside of Sugarcreek, Ohio is the result of a single man’s passion for trains. Jerry Joe Jacobson had a lifelong interest in trains, and over the years collected numerous steam and diesel engines,, along with a number of cars.

In 2011 they completed the roundhouse to house the collection. I had read about this online and sent an email querying about visiting. The email I received back detailed how they only opened to large group tours, but that sometime in the summer they would offer up public tours – so I signed up and a few months later had my tour.

I received back a lengthy waiver detailing numerous don’ts for the visit. While giving me pause we headed out. Upon arriving we had yet another lengthy warning speech about safety (don’t step on a rail you might twist an ankle!) and numerous other things. Now I was concerned it was going to feel like a school field trip we headed out.

Thankfully I was very wrong once we went out on our tour. Our primary tour guide was the son of Jerry (who passed away a year or so ago). He was informative, engaging and lead us throughout the facility – although they did group us into 3 large piles of 30+ people.

 

2018 06 09 9 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

The roundhouse is 48,000 square feet with space for 18 locomotives. Built out of masonry and heavy timbers it is an impressive sight.

2018 06 09 16 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

Our first stop was the shop where they restore the locomotives.

2018 06 09 38 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

It was here we got our first close view of the impressive doors, each weighing over 2000 pounds (1000 kilograms). They are proud that they are so well balanced you can close them with 1 finger.

2018 06 09 48 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

Also outside is the large water tank and delivery system that steam locomotives require.

2018 06 09 54 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

Returning back inside we toured the numerous engines housed there.

2018 06 09 68 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

A couple of the middle bays were free of trains to give a nice overview of the building.

2018 06 09 72 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

The assistants to the tour were all dressed for the part – and helpful.

2018 06 09 89 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

Each bay has a chimney to capture the significant smoke that a steam locomotive puts out. Note the impressive ceiling.

2018 06 09 93 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

They had a variety of engines, although to be fair with the large crowd you could either a) be up front where you could hear the description but have 35 people in the way of the photos  or  b) hang back and get nice photos but no description. One of the numerous opening instructions were no talking to each other or the other guides so you don’t disrupt the tour – they have a schedule to keep.

2018 06 09 99 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

Outside are the doors to the turntable – a very impressive sight remembering each of the doors (36 in all) are over 2000 pounds.

2018 06 09 112 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

The tracks to the turntable with an engine on the table.

2018 06 09 118 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

One of the ‘pushers’ (to keep everyone in line) was Jerry – he and the others were really great and helpful (I whispered my questions!). After the tour I was able to speak to Jerry further finding him a very interesting man.

2018 06 09 127 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

Returning back inside – another great view.

2018 06 09 140 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

A close up of one of the engines and the ceiling.

2018 06 09 143 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

They did have a couple of small display of ancillary railroad items.

2018 06 09 158 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

A final look inside.

2018 06 09 163 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

A view from outside the fence surrounding the property. The Age of Steam Roundhouse is an amazing place well worth the visit, even with the extensive (silly) warnings and processes and slightly expensive cost to attend.

2018 06 09 179 Sugarcreek OH Age of Steam Roundhouse.jpg

 

 

 

Bellevue, Ohio – May 2018 – Seneca Caverns

A full Saturday had us heading across the north central Ohio flatlands …

2018 05 19 209 Milan OH.jpg

To – A Cavern! We have been in a number of caves and caverns before but the pancake flat Ohio countryside seems like an unlikely location for one. Aided by Google maps and about 50 road signs we arrived just as they opened for the morning.

The small tourist attraction is a family owned business, and it was quickly apparent they appreciate the people who showed up to tour their cavern. All who worked there were friendly and helpful.

Finally our time arrived and our tour guide Sam(antha) lead us down the stairs in the small gift shop to the start of the cave. I had previously read on Tripadvisor that unlike many of the larger ‘show caves’ this one meant actually getting a little dirty as you navigate the natural stairs – and they were right.

2018 05 19 20 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

 

 

But we successfully made it down to level 2 where Sam explained the geology – it is a ‘Crack in the Earth’ cave – cause basically by a sinkhole, not water erosion.

2018 05 19 25 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

 

The cave was discovered by two boys playing (aren’t they all) in the late 1800s, and up until the 1930s it was a fairly ambitious effort to go into the cave. Many who did left marks that they were there, including Mr Moyer who used his skill as a tombstone carver to leave a nice etching of his name in the late 1800s.

2018 05 19 27 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

We continued further down, past a few fossil and very small stalactites to level 3.

2018 05 19 31 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

The bottom of the cave has an aquifer known as the Old Mis’try River. The water levels will vary greatly depending on rain and we have had enough rain recently the water levels were fairly high. Look closely at the railing continuing down and you will see where the water level has filled the stairway to the next level (the water is the greenish tint).

2018 05 19 36 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

Having gone as far as we could we started back up. Squeezing up some of the ‘stairways’ to the top. Sam was a great tour guide, informative without being boring, energetic and fun – making the hour long tour go by very fast. While not spelunking – it was adventurous enough for me.

If you would like a bit of caving Seneca Caverns in the Ohio flatlands is recommended.

2018 05 19 48 Bellevue OH Seneca Caverns.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleveland – August 2017 – Detroit-Superior Bridge Tour

The Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland (so named because it connects Detroit Avenue on the West Side with Superior Avenue downtown) was opened in 1918. While renamed a few years ago to the Veterans Memorial Bridge, to most it is still the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

When it was opened in 1918 it had streetcars running on the lower level with the cars, buses and trucks on the upper level. (photo below is from about 100 different internet sites). When the streetcars stopped running in the 1950s, the lower level was closed off.

detroitsuperior.jpg

 

Every once in a while the Cuyahoga County Engineers Office will open the lower level for tours. With the last tour 4 years ago the open house this year was very popular, with an estimated 10,000 people checking it out.

2017 08 19 4 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

The outer walkways were only partially open.

2017 08 19 13 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

The steel frame allows views down to the river, almost 200 feet below.

2017 08 19 24 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

On the west side, the abandoned West 25th Street subway station was open.

2017 08 19 29 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

2017 08 19 31 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

There have been numerous proposals for use, including bike/pedestrian trails, etc.

2017 08 19 46 Cleveland - Detroit Superior Bridge Tour.jpg

 

 

 

Cincinnati – July 2017 – Underground Tour

While in Cincinnati for the day we took the ‘Ultimate Underground Cincinnati’ tour. While the tour guide was funny, informative and insightful, the tour itself seemed to lack in content. While we did go under a church to see a crypt and in an old brewery to see some long forgotten underground rooms, for a 2 hour tour they seemed to not have enough places to see  – filling much of the two hours with amusing stories.

Still once we were in the two underground portions, they were fascinating. We did come away knowing much more about the ‘Over The Rhine’ neighborhood of Cincinnati.

The neighborhood had a mix of gentrification and scruffy.

2017 07 29 12 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

 

The crypt under the St Francis Church was filled with graves of Irish immigrants from the 1800s, which is unusual given the neighborhood was noted for the German immigrants. The Irish had been there first.

2017 07 29 18 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

 

An old brewery that is being rehabbed into condos included some ‘art’ that are the burnt columns from a church that had caught fire in 2008.

2017 07 29 30 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

 

The massive rooms underneath the old brewery (as well as the modern day Moerlein Brewery) were great to see.

2017 07 29 36 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

 

A mural on the front of the old brewery.

2017 07 29 44 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

 

The tour ended at the Moerlein Brewery.

2017 07 29 48 Cincinnati Underground Tour.jpg

 

Cumberland, OH – October 2016 – The Wilds

Having been disappointed when we visited the Columbus Zoo because of the commercialization, we had held off making the hour trip out to see the Wilds, a non-profit safari park and conservation center owned by the Zoo. The Wilds is home to numerous rare and endangered species living in a natural, open range habitat.

2016 10 23 24 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

The property encompasses 9,154 acres of reclaimed coal mine land and includes 2,000 acres of pastures and a 27-acre Carnivore Conservation Center, claiming to be the largest wildlife conservation center in North America.

We purchased tickets for an open bus tour, which left the visitor center on top of a large hill. The ride on the bus was bumpy, a bit cool on a sunny late October day, but well worth it. The driver was very knowledgeable, humorous, and thorough without being boring.

2016 10 23 11 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

We made our way through the tall fences between various pastures that keep animals that wouldn’t get along separate from each other. Camels and Bison in one pasture, Zebras and Hippos in another.

Expecting the worst, I was very wrong. This was a great place to see the animals, and well worth the trip out.

2016 10 23 22 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

2016 10 23 45 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

2016 10 23 61 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

2016 10 23 71 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

 

2016 10 23 90 Cumberland OH The Wilds Animal Preserve.jpg

Columbus – October 2016 – Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour

The Columbus Landmarks Foundation offer guided walking tours once a month during the warmer months. The tour we took offered a look at the architecture and history of downtown buildings range in style from Beaux Arts to Gothic, Art Moderne to Greek Revival, Italianate to Arts and Crafts.

2016 10 22 28 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Starting at the center of Columbus, the corner of Broad Street and High Street, with the first building discussed being the Huntington Bank building, just south of Broad Street on the west side of the street directly across from the State Capital.

2016 10 22 7 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

Built in the 1920s the 13 story Huntington Bank Building has a very ornate entrance that thousands of people walk by every day without noticing.

2016 10 22 4 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Just around the corner on West Broad Street is the Wyandotte Building, a Chicago school of architecture style eleven story building, considered Columbus’s first skyscraper.

2016 10 22 9 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

 

Renown architect Daniel Burnham designed the building with vertical alignments of bay windows called oriels to provide additional lighting and ventilation. The lower floors have battered walls, providing a sense of stability  and strength.

2016 10 22 14 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Across Broad Street is the LeVeque Tower, along with the Palace Theater. Completed in 1927 at a height of 555 feet 6 inches, intentionally built to be 6 inches taller than the Washington Monument, it was the tallest building between New York and Chicago when completed, although it was eclipsed by the Terminal Tower in Cleveland a couple of years later.

2016 10 22 12 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

The building is currently undergoing a restoration include repairing the crumbling, cracking terra cotta skin of the building and restoring its art elements of cherubs and guardian angels, shields and garlands. The renovation will create high-rise apartments and revitalize office space in the base.

2016 10 22 18 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Across Front Street from the LeVeque Tower is Columbus City Hall. Also built in the 1920s directly facing the Scioto River, it was built in three sections surrounding a central courtyard, a fourth section was added on the west side of City Hall in 1936 to enclose the courtyard and provide additional office space utilizing the Art Deco style of the period.

2016 10 22 32 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Interestingly the original main entrance faced the river; this has been long abandoned with the main entrance facing Front Street. The exterior grounds have a number of interesting sculptures, the most noteworthy is a 20 foot tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, a gift to the city from Genoa Italy in 1955.

2016 10 22 26 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Continuing south of Front Street we stopped outside the Ohio Supreme Court building, a building we toured extensively in December 2015, noted in an earlier blog posting.

2016 10 22 41 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Our last stop was on the Statehouse grounds where we viewed a number of sculptures and monuments, starting with the The Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial, completed in 2014.

2016 10 22 66 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

After passing another Christopher Columbus statue, we had a quick tour through the statehouse, viewing the rotunda and a couple of the upper floor rooms.

2016 10 22 84 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

Our final stop was at the Jewels of Ohio statue, honoring 19th century Ohio sons including Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, Edwin Stanton, James A. Garfield,  Rutherford B. Hayes, Salmon P. Chase, and William Sherman.

2016 10 22 99 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg

 

The tour guide was informative and enthusiastic, making the event on this cold October day worthwhile. We ended our morning with lunch at Jack and Benny’s Downtown Diner, warming up to some good diner food.

2016 10 22 94 Columbus Landmarks Foundation Historic Tour.jpg