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In 43 years of living in Ohio, I’d somehow missed a few sights. So in mid-September, my wife and I set out to see them.
We favored attractions that required — or at least encouraged — masks, in light of the pandemic. Here’s my report on what I’ve waited too long to see:
National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton
Why did it take me so long to get to the massive Air Force museum? It begins with the compelling story of the Wright brothers and proceeds through an overwhelming array of flying weapons the United States has deployed to wage war and keep peace since.
Also there: The plane that flew President Kennedy’s body back to Washington after his assassination (the craft is open for a walk-through), and one of the space vehicles that landed astronauts on the moon.
Westcott House in Springfield
In the early 1900s, industrialist Burton Westcott, who made — and ultimately lost — a fortune in automobile manufacturing, hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design a magnificent Prairie-style house for his family. It was later sold, divided into apartments and allowed to deteriorate. But preservationists acquired it two decades ago, and a long restoration effort returned it to glory. The tour is fascinating.
The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati
This place is a riot of blinking lights, glowing neon and oversized arrows. But it’s not all just visual spectacle. The museum takes a visitor through sign history, in chronological fashion, as the modest, hand-painted wood and metal of the horse-and-buggy era gave way to the illuminated giants of the automobile age.
This is surely the only museum anywhere that chronicles the evolution of Frisch’s iconic Big Boy from chubby, red-haired lad with a slingshot in his hip pocket to svelte, dark-haired, unarmed youth.
Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art
How else would you display one of the world’s best collections of art glass if not in a glass-walled building?
This 2006 expansion of the venerable museum has been called a work of art in itself.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont
Shorthand history reduces Hayes to a few facts: He won a disputed election in 1876 and his wife was nicknamed Lemonade Lucy for not serving alcohol, for example. You’ll get a more expansive view of Hayes — including his Civil War service (joined the Army at age 38, wounded five times) and his Reconstruction failures — at his home and museum.
The Hayes family were packrats — they kept everything, even the skates that young Rutherford’s brother, Lorenzo, was wearing when he broke through pond ice and drowned in 1825. Both the well-preserved Hayes mansion and the museum next door feature loads of memorabilia.
So, there I’ve crossed a few more Ohio sites off my list. What’s on yours?
Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.