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6 local Home & Garden tours to inspire your next renovation

J.R. McMillan

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Columbus is rich in established neighborhoods waiting to be rediscovered. From enterprising hipsters handy with a hammer to young families ready to put down some roots, or empty-nesters looking to start their next chapter in life, Central Ohio offers ample opportunities for anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and turn an ordinary home on an overgrown lot into something extraordinary.

This roundup of annual home and garden tours features three novel enclaves. All started their tours for different reasons, but converged with a celebration of history, architecture, and community that brings folks together and welcomes curious neighbors — past, present, and future.

Bexley House & Garden Tour
June 2nd, 2019 from 10am to 4pm
www.bexleywomen.org

What we now know as Bexley originally grew out of two crucial construction projects that inspired the village that would become a city within a city. In the late 1800s, Capital University’s move east from downtown followed by the water and sewer systems installed to support soldiers serving in the Spanish-American War training at Camp Bushnell spurred expansion and eventual incorporation.

Among the most diverse residential tours in Central Ohio, the span of styles is indicative of period architecture over more than century, with renovations and remodeling continuing to renew the neighborhood.

As the historic center of the local Jewish religious and cultural community, the distinct identity infuses the entire area beyond the official city limits. Bexley’s robust retail corridor is also the envy of many aging neighborhoods and cuts right through the middle instead of operating at the periphery. Restaurants, boutiques, and galleries lure folks from surrounding cities, and the faithfully restored Drexel Theatre remains an art deco destination with a national reputation.

From spacious mansions to more modern and modest homes, the inner city satellite has the cohesive qualities of a small town, yet all of the advantages of an emerging Midwest metropolis just a short drive away.

Westgate Home & Garden Tour
June 8th, 2pm – 6pm
westgateneighbors.org

Established as one of the city’s so-called “streetcar suburbs,” Westgate’s history actually runs much deeper. Built on the grounds of a Union army outpost and prison for captured Confederate soldiers, only Camp Chase Cemetery remains as a solemn reminder. An ambitious colony of Quakers also called the outskirts of the Hilltop home before the land again changed hands and was ultimately divided into several hundred plots for brisk development stretching from Broad to Sullivant from the 1920s through the 1950s.

With an initial mix of craftsman and custom homes before transitioning to early mid-century, Westgate also boasts one of the largest local collections of Sears catalog homes, including one featured on this year’s tour.

It’s not uncommon to find multiple generations of residents whose children and grandchildren return to buy homes here. Why wouldn’t they? Several schools and churches are within walking distance, a seasonal farmers market, and Summer Jam West reveal a neighborhood more connected and creative than most, with artists of all sorts adding to the quaint and quirky quality of living.

But the heart of the community is Westgate Park, with nearly 50 acres of paths, playgrounds, and picnic areas anchored by a newly renovated recreation center, all just minutes from downtown.

Old Oaks Home & Garden Tour
June 9, 2019 at 1pm – 5pm
oldoakhomegardentour.com

This turn of the century neighborhood also owes its origin to the city’s electrified streetcar circuit, making the move from downtown a practical possibility. Just a mile southeast of Broad and High, Old Oaks offered more affluent accommodations for European immigrants seeking more square footage than German Village and points south afforded, but was still close enough to their tight-knit community of schools and shops, friends and family.

Comprised mostly of mission, neoclassical, and revival “four-square” homes, with variations of Queen Anne style as well, construction covered three decades and stretched all the way to Kimball Place and Livingston Avenue.

Like most historic neighborhoods, it’s the persistence of homeowners that leads preservation efforts, always with an eye on the future. As downtown living becomes desirable again, Oak Oaks often attracts couples that prefer to own a home with ornate architectural details rarely found intact, if at all, for less than the average apartment or commodity condominium.

And those inviting front porches don’t just increase curb appeal or literal street cred. They’re the impetus for impromptu gatherings that echo an earlier era of spontaneous hospitality making a comeback.

German Village Haus und Garten Tour
Sunday, June 30th, 2019 from 9am to 4:30pm
www.germanvillage.com

Among the oldest and most iconic neighborhoods in Columbus, “German Village” is relatively new. So named in 1960 for more than a century of immigrants that first settled what had been known previously as the South End, the cobblestone streets and red brick homes haven’t always been so exclusive or esteemed. Though a third of the city was once German, sentiment toward the people and their descendants turned during WWI and WWII. The once proud and thriving community fell into decades of structural and cultural neglect.

But in 1959, the restoration of a single cottage inspired the creation of the German Village Society the following year. That preservation of the past and vision for the future now celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Beyond the annual tour Sunday tour, events include a Saturday “PreTour” of homes with access to areas off-limits for the public, a cocktail reception, one of 20 private dinner parties hosted by residents, as well as two neighborhood restaurants, and an after party. Sunday brunch in Schiller Park also returns before the tour.

German Village has become the prototype for more than just home and garden tours. It’s a model for urban renewal and historic preservation working together to maintain the character of a once forgotten community for generations to come.

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Worthington Tour of Homes & Gardens
Sunday, July 14th, 2019 from 12:30pm to 5:30pm
www.worthingtonhistory.org

If a drive through the intersection of High Street and 161 feels more like New England than the Midwest, that’s no coincidence. Worthington was originally settled by families from Connecticut and Massachusetts in 1803, the same year Ohio became a state. However, it remained a tiny, self-sufficient, pioneer town for almost a century before streetcar service from downtown truly connected it to Columbus. Annexations after WWII through the completion of the outerbelt in 1975 made it a true satellite city.

Photos by Kate LaLonde

But it was their sesquicentennial celebration that spurred renewed interest in preservation, prompting eight members of the local women’s club to establish the Worthington Historical Society two years later in 1955.

Unlike most neighborhood home and garden tours, Worthington has remained focused on the 19th century, but not without more recent modifications that reveal the resiliency of earlier homes. This year’s tour features seven homes, and four former residences that have been thoughtfully converted into commercial spaces, as well as the Masonic Lodge and the Orange Johnson House, which serves as the society’s museum.

Worthington has become a modern city experiencing a bit of a retail boom, including two bona fide business incubators, yet with the walking atmosphere and sincere charm of a small town at the center of its nearly two centuries of history.

Olde Towne East Tour of Historic Homes
Sunday, July 14th, 2019 from 1pm to 6pm
www.oldetowneeast.org

From powerful politicians to titans of industry, the mansions of Olde Towne East are at odds with most inner city neighborhoods. Just close enough to downtown and stretching all the way to Franklin Park Conservatory, the stately homes offer echoes of the entire span of Columbus history and those who made it. More recent efforts to reverse decades of flight have helped preserve a diversity of architecture impossible to reproduce today, with more than 50 distinct styles dating back to the 1830s.

Courtesy of OTENA Summer Tour of Historic Homes, © 2019 www.michaelafoley.com

In fact, it was the unique challenges of conservation that gave rise to the Olde Towne East Neighborhood Association in 1975 and their first tour in 1982, as both a celebration of transformation and exchange of practical skills for period restoration.

By square footage alone, some homes seem more like castles, with three or more floors, grand staircases, intricate glass and wood craftsmanship, expansive porches, and exacting details — all the more impressive given how many were once subdivided into multiple residences and suffered years of neglect before their resurrection.

But thriving neighborhoods are more than just homes. Olde Towne East’s proximity to downtown continues to attract aspiring artists and creative couples committed to preserving its culture and community, all within a short walk from the heart of the city.

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Things To Do

Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron

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The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.

MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN

Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at www.skimadriver.com.

SNOWTRAILS

Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www. snowtrails.com.

BOSTON MILLS & BRANDYWINE

Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at www.bmbw.com.

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox

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At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7PRvBxpBkI/

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit shortnorth.org.

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Food & Drink

Worth the Drive: Lima’s Kewpee Hamburgers

Regina Fox

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Lima, OH may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a road trip, but you may have to reconsider after learning about a little (AKA one of the oldest burger chain in the world) not-so-hidden gem called Kewpee Hamburgers.

It all started in 1923 when Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs opened in Flint, Michigan. This was home to the "Mity nice Hamburger," which could be purchased for just a nickel. Kewpee was also known for its life-sized naked mascot baby, created to the likeness of the classic comic strip Kewpie dolls.

By 1940, the chain rebranded to simply "Kewpee Hamburgers," and was 400-locations strong. From Ohio to New York City, Kewpee's stole the hearts of Americans with its square patties, hot chili, thick shakes, homey diner atmosphere, and not-to-be-beaten prices.

During its rise to popularity, Kewpee also managed to revolutionize the fast food game by becoming one of the first restaurants to offer a drive-thru.

But much to the dismay of its fans far and wide, most restaurants in the franchise met their demise during WWII meat shortages.

Kewpee's time-honored legacy lives on in Lima, OH where the only three remaining restaurants are located. Despite its novelty across the country, Kewpee continues to offer guests their beloved greasy grub at rock-bottom prices ($2.45 for a cheeseburger? Take that, Five Guys).

It's hard to believe that such a famed piece of America's food history is just 90 minutes from Columbus, but it's true and definitely worth the drive. How could you say no to this innocent, yet slightly ominous face?

To learn more about Kewpee Hamburgers, click here.

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