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Museums, attractions offer treasures for history buffs

It is circumstance, not choice, that places her in the limelight yet from the moment her husband is elected President of the United States, the eyes of the world are on America’s First Lady – especially on what she wears.

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center’s current exhibit, “First-Lady Style: White House Gowns” examines the role of the First Lady using fashion as a focus. The exhibit brings together 29 original and reproduction gowns worn by American First Ladies.

In addition to displaying gowns from its own collections, the center is borrowing garments from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum and from First Lady Laura Bush.

Complimenting the exhibit is a collection of miniature copies of inaugural gowns worn every First Lady through Hillary Clinton.

Visitors will gain an understanding of how the role of First Lady, and that of women in general, has changed in our society during the past two centuries. The gowns also provide a vivid lesson of fashion changes through the course of history.

“First-Lady Style: White House Gowns” will be on exhibit through Aug. 2 in the Hayes Museum.

Then, Aug. 25 through Jan. 10, 2010, the center will present “White House Pets: Ambassadors at Large” and “White House Horses,” a pair of exhibits exploring the lives of four-footed residents of the White House.

The Hayes Center, located at Buckland and Hayes avenues in Fremont, is the nation’s first and largest presidential library. Set on the 25-acre Spiegel Grove estate of the late president, it includes the 31-room Victorian home where President Hayes and his wife, Lucy, retired after his term in the White House; the three-story Hayes Museum and Library; and the Hayes tomb located at the end of a trail that was once part of the Scioto Indian Trail and the Harrison supply trail during the War of 1812.

The Dillon Victorian House, located across the street from the Hayes estate, is also operated in connection with the presidential center and hosts a series of Victorian tea programs from spring through fall. Teas are held 1-3 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month from April through November. In addition, special Children’s Teas are offered in June, July and August (noted by an asterisk below). Cost is $20/adult, $12/children. Advance reservations are required.
Teas include:
July 8 * - a visit by Mrs. Lincoln, in the person of Sheri Manthei.  
Aug. 5 - a visit by First Lady Lucretia Garfield, in the person of Anita Benedetti.
Aug. 12*- storytelling by Barb Sutton.  
Sept. 2 - harp music by Karen Svanoe Westgate.
Oct. 7 - dulcimer music by Karri Danner.  
Nov. 4 - tea leaf readings by Retha Martin.

For more information or reservations, call 800-998-PRES. 

Over the summer months, the Hayes Center hosts vintage baseball games as well as free outdoor concert events presented from the 80-foot verandah of the Hayes home.

Concert events begin at 6:45 p.m. with an old-fashioned ice cream social. Music starts at 7 p.m. and lasts about an hour. The 2009 season series includes these performances:

July 8 – Traditional folk songs by The Unexpected Party.
July 22 – Streetwise Quartet presents `50s and `60s music.
Aug. 5 – Ottawa County Bluegrass Band.
Aug. 19- North Coast Big Band presents tunes from the Big Band era.

The Hayes Center also holds an annual Civil War encampment that includes live mock battles on Oct.3-4, an operating model train display Nov. 29 through Jan. 10, 2010; and from Dec. 26-31, sleigh/carriage rides through Spiegel Grove.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays and some holidays. The complex is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter.

Call 1-800-998-7737 or visit www.rbhayes.org for admission prices or more information.


Wood County’s roots
The Wood County Historical Center and Museum is located at 13660 County Home Rd., Bowling Green, a half-mile east of the US 6/I-75 interchange, on the site of the former county infirmary.

Several exhibits help tell the story behind the county’s history. More than 30 rooms cover historical elements from the native people of Northwest Ohio, the Black Swamp, Oil and Gas Boom, various clothing and decorating styles, and trends in medicine politics and government.

The center also offers a variety of special programs and events throughout the year, including a series of Victorian teas, Halloween Folklore & Funfest (Oct. 17), and Old Home Holiday Tours (Dec. 5-19).

Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. through Oct. 31. The center is closed Mondays and holidays as well as during November in preparation for the Old Home Holiday Tour. The center will then close again Dec. 20 and remains closed until April.

For more information, call 419-352-0967 or visit www.woodcountyhistory.org.


A soldier’s life
Fort Megis State Memorial is a War of 1812 battlefield located at along SR 65 (River Road) in Perrysburg. A reconstructed fort and museum help bring history alive.

Under the command of future President William Henry Harrison, soldiers at Fort Meigs helped defend the Northwest Territory against attacks by the British and the Native Americans during the War of 1812.

A replica of America’s largest walled fort, Fort Meigs offers several re-enactments featuring soldiers in period costume, such as an Independence Celebration July 4-5; Drums Along the Maumee July 25-26; Frontier Skills Weekend Aug. 29-30; Garrison Ghost Walk Oct. 23-24 and 30-31; and a Holiday Open House Dec. 13.

Visit The War of 1812 Heritage Trail, which highlights the historic sites of the Old Northwest as the War of 1812 bicentennial years approach.

Hours, which are subject to change, are Wednesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The fort is open April to October and the museum is open year-round.

Call 419-874-4121 or visit www.fortmeigs.org for more information.


On the waterfront
In the shadow of the Toledo skyline, moored alongside the rolling landscape of International Park in East Toledo, a splash of history and romance await aboard the museum ship S.S. Willis B. Boyer.

The Boyer, a 617-foot freighter ship, now serves as a floating museum and tribute to maritime operations on the Great Lakes from its berth located off Main Street to the west of The Docks restaurant complex or off Miami Street beneath the Anthony Wayne (High Level) Bridge.

Formerly the Col. James M. Schoonmaker, the freighter was built in 1911 and “retired” in 1980 after 69 years of service. For many of these years it ruled as “queen of the lake freighters.”

Today, the S. S. Willis B. Boyer is polished, repaired, and welcomes visitors. The S.S. Willis B. Boyer is open now through Oct. 31. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Visit www.willisbboyer.org or call 419-936-3070 for more information.


Brandville School
Tucked away at 1133 Grasser St. in Oregon, the refurbished Historic Brandville School, originally built in 1882, houses the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society. Local history memorabilia, artifacts and a Civil War collection, including the refurbished 19th century oil painting of the 1864 Volunteer Light Artillery Group are featured.

A replica of a carriage house was constructed at the complex to display the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society’s growing display. The first floor houses a replica of a local general store, while the second floor has vignettes of a doctor’s office and a living area displaying sections of a bedroom and a parlor. Farm implements are also on display, in addition to a one-horse sleigh and many tools and devices used by local tradesmen in bygone eras.

Call 419-693-7052 or visit www.ojhs.org for tour arrangements and additional info.


Pemberville highlights
Pemberville’s historic Pember-Furry House and One-Room School at 324 E. Front St. take visitors back in time to the early 1900s. Believed to be the community’s oldest frame residence, the Furry House was built by village founder James Pember, and eventually was home to long-time residents Jacob H. Furry and his daughter, Minnie.

Featuring unique architectural details and authentic period furnishings, the house sits adjacent to the One Room School, where Pemberville’s youth learned “readin’ and writin’” at the turn of the century. Admission is free. The Pember-Furry House and One-Room School are open by appointment from spring through fall. Call 419-287-3274 for info.

While in town, check out the restored railroad depot (circa 1881), with railroad and Pemberville memorabilia on display. Open May through October by appointment (419-287-4114) and during community events.


Historic Genoa
The Genoa Town Hall looms over the village, its bell tower visible for blocks. Originally built as the Genoa Opera Hall, it was completed Jan. 2, 1883, and had an opening with the play, “The Three Wise Owls,” by A. O. Miller. The building immediately became the hub of activity in the village and council meetings are still held there.

Built in the Gothic revival style, the structure features eight ornamental chimneys and a hand-carved sandstone mask of Dionysius, the Greek God of theater, which rests over the main entrance. An exterior renovation, including rebuilding of the bell tower and ornamental chimneys, replacement of the slate roof, and restoration of the window glass was completed in 1979. The century-old entrances were also made handicapped-accessible. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Town Hall houses the mayor’s office and the village council chambers on the first floor. The second floor is used by Genoa’s Civic Theater.

Also of note, the Genoa Privy, built to serve as Genoa’s first school, is believed to be the only brick outhouse on the National Register of Historic Places.
Woodville Past

Woodville Historical Museum, located at 107 E. Main St. (US 20) and operated by the Woodville Historical Society, features materials and artifacts documenting the rich history of the small village located on the banks of the Portage River about 20 miles east of Toledo.

Among the items on display are a collection of Indian artifacts believed to go back as far as the time of Christ, pictures of early Woodville, a complete collection of school yearbooks and copies of the local newspapers from 1927 through 1978.

Once part of the Great Black Swamp, Woodville was founded in 1836 and has transformed from a wilderness trade and traveling stop in the Great Black Swamp highway to a bustling, modern village. Among other topics, museum visitors can learn about the 1900s oil boom, Indians in the Woodville area, lime plants, early schools and the Lake Shore Electric rail system that once traveled between Toledo and Cleveland.

The museum is open Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 2 to 4 p.m. and Wednesday evenings 6 to 8 p.m. June, July and August or by appointment. Call 419-849-3920 for info.
Enjoy the ride

Board the Blue Bird train at Grand Rapids, Ohio, for a 15-mile round trip on the tracks of the Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railway and Museum, Inc., once part of the Cloverleaf Division of the Nickel Plate Road.

The 60-minute round-trip ride takes passengers back to a more casual time when passenger trains were a primary form of transportation. Sit back and enjoy the ride, which travels past a 185-year-old log cabin and a 100-year-old horse barn along the way. Trains depart the Waterville Train Station, located at 49 N. Sixth St., Waterville, 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays through Nov. 1; and Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. June through August only.

Call 1-866-63-TRAIN or visit www.tlew.org for hours and information about special 2009 excursion trains such as the Presidential Train with President Abraham Lincoln, the Wreck on the Wabash trains, Magical Train Ride with Foop the Clown and Haunted Halloween Trains.


Farm of yesteryear
Sauder Village, a working farm from the 19th Century, also has an historic village of working craftsmen from the period at a complex located at 22511 SR 2 off Ohio Turnpike exit 25 at Archbold.

The complex features “Little Pioneers Homestead,” which is a special “Please-Touch” area created especially for kids, as well as an inn, restaurant, exhibit hall, bakery and campground.

The village hosts numerous special events over the year, including an Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration July 4-5; Fiddle Contest & Summer on the Farm July 11; Explore the Crafts June 24-25; 26th Annual Doll & Teddy Bear Show & Sale Aug. 1 and 2; Rug-Hooking Exhibition Aug. 12-15; Barbershop Sing & Vintage Baseball Aug. 29; Apple-Butter Making Week Sept. 22-26; All Aboard Train Event Oct. 3 and 4; Fall on the Farm Oct. 10; 23rd Annual Woodcarver Show & Sale Oct.24 and 25; and Holiday Lantern Tours Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 11 and 12. Call 1-800-590-9755 or visit www.saudervillage.org for info.


Canal travel
Providence Metropark, located along U.S. 24 near Grand Rapids, offers an opportunity for visitors to step back in time and ride aboard The Volunteer, a working canal boat pulled by horses along a restored section of the former Miami and Erie Canal. Historical re-enactors operate the boat, staying in character on the first half of the 45-minute cruise to spin tales of life in mid-1800s Ohio while the boat travels through a restored canal lock. Along the way, watch for the Ludwig Mill & General Store, which features a working, water-powered gristmill.

The canal boat and mill are open May through October. June through August hours are Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends noon to 4 p.m. September and October hours are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and weekends noon to 4 p.m.

Group trips and charters are available. Call 419-407-9741 or visit www.metroparkstoledo.com for fares and other info.


Toledo Firefighters Museum
The Toledo Firefighters Museum, located at 918 Sylvania Ave., Toledo, includes many large pieces of vintage firefighting equipment, including an 1837 Neptune – Toledo’s first fire pumper. Lovingly restored by Toledo firefighters, the hand-pulled, hand-operated Neptune required a 20-man crew and could deliver about 300 gallons of water per minute.

Museum visitors will also see such memorabilia as sweat sticks used to sweep lather from horses, fire gongs, antique fire toys, vintage uniforms and more. For more information, call 419-478-3473 or visit www.toledofiremuseum.com.


Edison remembered
Thomas Alva Edison was born and lived in Milan, O. during his first seven years of childhood from 1847-1854. Along with the Edison Birthplace home, a separate museum, the Milan Historical Museum has been the repository of Edison memorabilia.

The Milan Historical Museum is comprised of a seven-building complex on one acre of beautiful grounds. Visit the 1846 Galpin House featuring a 1,500-piece Mowry Glass Collection; 1843 restored Sayles Home; Doll & Toy House; international treasures and needlework in the Newton Building; General Store; Blacksmith Shop plus a gift store and visitors center.

Hours are 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in September and October and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays June through August. Call 419-499-2968 or visit www.milanhistory.org.

Then tour Edison’s Birthplace, which includes Edison’s boyhood home, displays of his accomplishments and more. Hours are June-August Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.; September and October Tuesday through Sunday 1-5 p.m.; and November and December Wednesday through Sunday 1-4 p.m. For information, call 419-499-2135 or visit www.tomedison.org.


Stepping back
Historic Lyme Village, 5001 SR 4, Bellevue, includes an 1880 Victorian Mansion, an 1836 family home, log homes, barns, a one-room school, general store and 10 other buildings.

The village is also home to the National Postmark Museum and Research Center, the Schug Hardware Museum and a gift shop.

Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. in June, July and August; and Sundays only from noon to 4 p.m. in September and October. For more information, call 419-483-4949 or visit www.lymevillage.com.

Trick or Treat

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