Lawrence County Courthouse

The Lawrence County Courthouse is an imposing building in Ironton, Ohio. Like most river towns, Ironton is home to some varied and interesting architecture. This courthouse stands out beautifully in the heart of this old town amidst many interesting old buildings .

It was completed in 1908 after fire destroyed the old courthouse. The three story cut stone structure is in a striking Neoclassical style. The dome is extraordinary.

It took two years and $150,000 to build this courthouse.

It appears that an annex added on to the back in 1978 must have doubled their space.

There are a couple of noteworthy things on the grounds. My favorite of these is a replica of the Statue of Liberty that was donated by the Boy Scouts in 1951.

There’s also a replica of an iron furnace like those that once dotted the landscape here in southern Ohio. Much of southern Ohio was known as the Hanging Rock Iron Region which was the leading producer of pig iron and charcoal during the nineteenth century.

You’ll also find a pair of howitzer canons because nothing says welcome to our courthouse like a couple of canons.

If you like public buildings or courthouses in particular, this one is well worth a visit when you’re in the area.

Downtown Wilmington

Saturday was spent rambling around the Wilmington and Hillsboro, Ohio area. I had a list of things to see but was delighted by all the other stuff I found along the way.

You’ll see a lot of these stories pop up here soon but there are a few specific ones I want to tell you this week.

The first of these is about downtown Wilmington. I have been through Wilmington but had never parked the car and explored. Here you’ll find a number of historic buildings that are a mixture of vacant and vibrant. There are also several impressive churches, a historic hotel, an old theater and beautiful murals.

The street lights are historic reproductions and it looks like someone will be along soon to plant flowers. It mainly felt safe, tidy and optimistic.

Here, you’ll find inspirational messages.

People are out walking, dining in restaurants and shopping the farmers market for which they close a city block.

You’ll find murals in high traffic locales and in alleyways. This one looks so realistic I almost thought it possible to open the door and enter.

Even the cat in this mural looks like it could start purring.

I shopped in an antique store that inhabits an old mill and dined at the General Denver Hotel which offered vegetarian options that didn’t involve grilled cheese or pizza. I haven’t eaten in many restaurants this last year but it wasn’t too busy and it felt perfectly comfortable. The food was excellent.

It’s a Tudor style, built in the twenties, and the kind of place I would enjoy staying. How fun would it be to get dressed up for a show at the Murphy Theater and have a nice dinner here? If you’ve stayed here, I would enjoy your review.

Expect more pictures from Wilmington soon but first we’ll visit Hillsboro tomorrow. There’s a real treasure in that town and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Susan B. Anthony and Chautauqua County Courthouse

Mayville, New York is a village of about 1,700 people. It’s a quaint small town just a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Erie. I was actually on my way to Barcelona Lighthouse when the wide streets, old buildings and overall tidy appearance of the town turned my head.

I did my usual grid search of the town before circling back to the main drag to study the Chautauqua County Courthouse.

This building is stately and interesting all by itself. Built of stone around 1908, it’s the third courthouse here. I admired its large lawn and how it’s set back from the street. I often complain about my local courthouse and how you’re greeted by a lot of concrete and a weapon of war next to the front door. It’s a cool building but not especially friendly and I’m always jealous of courthouses that are so welcoming as the one in Mayville.

But I digress.

It’s notable to me that this wee town is the county seat when nearby Jamestown is significantly larger.

It was made county seat in 1812 and I’m guessing the choice was made because of the town’s proximity to Lake Erie. It just seems odd to see the cradle of government in a small town when it’s usually located in a county’s larger community.

What makes this site especially interesting though is that Susan B. Anthony spoke here. There was a different building here at the time but on December 26, 1854, she spoke at this site to organize the first county women’s suffrage convention for the New York State Women’s Rights. Committee.

History was made here.

This was actually the legendary suffragette’s first stop on this campaign to rally support for a committee in each county.

The community had this marker placed back in 2019 in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020.

Born a Quaker, Anthony had quite the career as an activist and as an advocate for women’s rights. She died in 1906, missing the ratification of the 19th amendment by about fourteen years. Yet, she lives on in generations of women and girls who enjoy rights these rights she worked so hard to earn.

It is gratifying to know the community takes such pride in this slice of their history.


“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”


After work on Friday, I took some roads I had never been on and ended up at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery on the outskirts of Lancaster.

Cemeteries are often home to some impressive pieces of art and architecture in the form of mausoleums and statuary. This gem caught my eye and I had to get a closer look.

Isn’t she magnificent? She looks over the final resting place of Army Captain George E. Blaire who died in May 1894.

There are a few interesting pieces here but the angel is hands down my favorite. I am constantly astounded by an artist’s ability to envision such a thing in a block of marble or stone and that they are able to give their ideas life with such exquisite lines and powerful emotions.

Notice how realistic her facial features and hair are. Also pay attention to the folds of fabric around her knee. She is even more magnificent in person.

Here are a few more images from a quick look around.

All of these pieces are larger than life and beautifully done.

Chapel In The Hills

The best things in life when out adventuring are often the things you really didn’t expect. This can come in many forms – a great meal from a greasy spoon, a meaningful conversation with a shop owner, a stunning sunset or a building that is so interesting you have to stop and explore.

Before any trip, I always do some reconnaissance work looking for off the beaten path stuff and prioritizing how to spend my time. In the process of preparing for our South Dakota adventure, I read about the Chapel in the Hills in Rapid City.

Even though I planned for it, this turned out to be one of those unexpected places, one of those special places that defy convention and become a defining memory of the trip.

It looks like someone transported an ancient Norwegian church through the ages and across the sea to the Black Hills.

Truth is, Lutherans built this incredibly ornate wooden church in 1969. It’s a replica of a stave church in Norway that dates to around the year 1200.

It’s in town but on some acreage so it feels peaceful, isolated, rustic and other worldly. It looks and feels like it doesn’t belong and yet being there is so calming it seems perfectly natural.

It’s built almost entirely with wood, including wooden dowels rather than nails to hold it together. Intricate wood carvings were created by local artists and a Norwegian expert brought in to make sure it recreates the themes found on the original Norwegian church.

The floor and foundation are stone. The sanctuary is simple. The benches look uncomfortable.

There’s a covered passageway known as an ambulatory that covers the entire exterior. This provides shelter to the foundation which is especially helpful in harsh climates and causes the sanctuary to feel somehow more isolated from the outside world.

As a person who spends much time studying churches from the outside, it was not lost on me this symbolism of providing shelter to those who don’t quite make it inside.

My adventure pal isn’t as oddly enamored with churches as I am. So she wandered off to give me a few minutes to absorb my surroundings and I was grateful for these stolen moments.

There’s a meditation trail and visitors are welcome to dwell. They host weddings and have evening services during the warm season – the casual dress of a vacationer is perfectly fine.

There’s a log cabin museum and a visitors center complete with gift shop on the property. The log cabin was built in the nineteenth century by a Norwegian prospector who came to the Black Hills during the gold rush. The visitor center is a grass roofed structure known as a Stabbur, another interesting Norwegian architectural style.

If you are ever in Rapid City, I hope you will make time to go and dwell. Stop and smell the lavender and find some inner peace. You can read more about the history and architecture at their website by clicking here.

Red Doors

There’s just something about heavy wooden doors on a church or red doors on any building to draw me in. These doors are attached to the Christ Episcopal Church in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

This imposing limestone building is larger than life and even more beautiful in person. The Gothic Revival design does sort of resemble a fortress but I like to think that’s to keep the devil out.

The congregation was founded in 1867 and the original brick church built two years later. The town sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers so it has seen some pretty bad floods and the original church suffered for it.

That first building was demolished in 1919. The congregation held services in a hotel down the street until this new house of worship was available for its first service on Christmas Day 1923.

As far as the red doors are concerned, there is some symbolism to be considered. Many churches use red doors to symbolize the blood of Christ while some people believe that a red door protects occupants from evil.

I once read that church doors were painted red in England during the Middle Ages to signify safety as no one would commit a crime or do harm on Holy Ground. I’m not sure that’s true today but it’s a nice idea.

Whatever the reason or the symbolism, they sure do make for a pretty picture and something special to see on your journeys.