Visiting as many state capitol buildings as possible has been one of my goals and the Ohio Statehouse was number 15 since full time RVing. It has been interesting to see the uniqueness of each building and a great way to learn more of the particular state’s history. Before RVing, I had visited other capitol buildings while on vacations, but usually those visits were self guided. During our travels now, I have made a point to take a tour as it adds so much more to the visit.
Construction on Ohio’s Statehouse began in 1839, but was not completed until 1861. This was not the original capital city but was chosen as the final site because of Columbus’ central location and nearby river transportation. Much of the construction was completed by prison inmates. The photo below is of the flower beds in the back of the building. There were several of these with flowers shaped to look like the Ohio State flag and the U.S. flag.
During our tour we saw the major parts of the building including the Senate and House which were both in session the day I visited. I really liked the striking colors of the flooring inside the rotunda. It consists of 5,000 pieces of hand cut marble which came from places around the world including Italy, Portugal and Vermont.
One notable piece of art in the rotunda is the Lincoln-Vicksburg Memorial which was made of marble by a Cincinnati sculptor. The bust is the only portrait statue that Lincoln sat for during his lifetime and is considered a good likeness. When Lincoln was asked by the artist what he thought of the work, he replied, “ I think it looks very much like the critter.” Lincoln visited the Statehouse twice. The first time was in September 1859 when he spoke to a group on the Statehouse steps. A plaque on the building now designates where he stood. I read that only 50 people showed up to hear him speak as he was not very well known outside of Illinois.
Our guide pointed out what was different about Ohio’s state flag. This is the only flag that is not rectangular in shape and is called the “swallowtail flag.” Ohio didn’t have a state flag for almost 100 years after achieving statehood.
After visiting the Statehouse we headed to German Village which was several miles away. This historic neighborhood was settled by German immigrants in the mid 1800’s and many of the red brick homes and buildings still survive today. There are also shops and businesses with one of the most popular the “Book Loft” which is housed in pre Civil War era buildings and features a lovely courtyard entrance filled with plants and flowers. We really enjoy book stores and this one boasted nthat it had 32 rooms. I was interested to see what a 32 room bookstore would look like.
While the bookstore does have a lot of books, the rooms are small to tiny. Staff hand out a map when you arrive so you can find the sections of books you want. It can be kind of confusing because this place is a maze! During my visit, I wound up and down steps and along passageways with occasional signs to help direct. Some of the books, especially those in the courtyard were discounted.
This is perhaps the most interesting book store we have found in our travels and I am glad we stopped in for awhile. I didn’t get any books because I have a number of them (either Kindle or print) that I still need to read. But browsing always gives me ideas for future reads. The store not only sells books, but also other items such as cards, puzzles, posters, music and book themed clothing like shirts and socks. In a few areas, they were next to the books they represented, for example socks of famous paintings from Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Picasso and Rockwell in the art book section.
St. Mary Catholic Church just down the street from the Book Loft is a prominent landmark in the Village with its very tall spire. It was completed in 1868 so the German residents could have their own church. Two years ago it was struck by lightning and had to close for structural repairs but now has opened again.
One of my favorite things to do is wander historic neighborhoods looking at the homes and gardens. If there are brick sidewalks and brick paved streets than even better and German Village has all of these. Some of the homes were quite adorable like the one in the photo below with its arched windows, green shutters and wrought iron fence.
Of course for our late lunch/early dinner we had to eat some German food and the place to go is Schmidt’s. They are a fixture in the Village having been open since 1886 and still owned by the 4th generation of the same family. They have served a lot of sausages in over 130 years! This is only the second German restaurant we have eaten at during our full time travels with the first time in Panama City, Florida.
Mark enjoyed a buffet of sausages and sides and I had the sauerbraten with spatzel and pickled cabbage. The restaurant was recommended by my Statehouse tour guide who also suggested we have one of their cream puffs which are the favorite dessert. I saw the display case loaded with these delicacies when we walked in and was amazed at how giant and beautiful they were! We decided to split one for dessert. You know how some things are better looking than they taste? Well for me, I enjoyed the sight of this cream puff better than eating it. Mark seemed to like it okay though.
Until next time!