Rescued Art: Ohio Seal On Display

As you enter the museum at the Ohio Statehouse, there is one breathtaking item that will draw your eye right in. It’s this gorgeous piece of stained glass that’s backlit and positively glowing.

This Seal of Ohio hung in the Rotunda dome from the 1920s until it was taken down in sixties. When it was decided to renovate the Ohio Statehouse in 1989, it was found stored in a closet inside a men’s room in the Senate Building.

Thankfully, someone saw value in it and had it restored. It became part of the Statehouse Museum in 1996.

This piece is huge and the colors are vibrant. I’m so grateful someone prioritized it’s restoration for a new generation to enjoy. I’m also glad they decided to use it in the museum rather than back in the dome, where it would be too high to appreciate. To give you some perspective, the center of the dome is where this once hung. It’s 120 feet high. I zoomed in a good bit for this picture.

Here’s one more view.

A Taste Of Tradition At The Peanut Shoppe

Tucked away in a corner shop, just across the street from the Ohio Statehouse, is a small business that harkens to another time.

It’s called The Peanut Shoppe and the business is in its 86th year. It actually was opened by Planters Peanuts in 1936, one of about 300 such Planters retail locations across the country. All of those locations fell into the hands of private owners in the sixties and this one in Columbus is one of just a few still in business across the nation.

Today, it’s owned by Mike and Pat who said she’s worked there since 1972. “I’ve been doing this so long I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t coming in here,” she told me.

While they are know for roasted peanuts, fresh ground peanut butter and nut candies, they have a great selection of all kinds of fun candies.

I came home with a couple of kinds of peanut clusters, cinnamon gummy bears and the most delicious honey roasted nuts I’ve ever tasted.

Pat and Mike are super friendly and happy to share about the business. Turns out that when Planters sold out, they went around the country destroying the Planters signs and marketing materials at all the retail stores.

They left a trail of destruction in their wake until they arrived at a store in Michigan where workers encountered a young boy who begged them not to kill Mr Peanut. Mike said there was enough negative press to convince the company to completely suspend the killing of Mr Peanut.

They never made it to Columbus which is how Pat and Mike are in possession of the last of these signs in the world. It still works!

I have a confession to make. I looked up the store just to see the sign.

Yes, yes, I know that anyone who visits here regularly is not at all surprised by this revelation.

They have more Mr Peanut pieces including a great one that sits on a roaster and a costume similar to one Mike wore during his college days. Turns out, he earned much needed book money when he took a job wearing a Mr Peanut costume similar to this one pictured below.

They specialize in fresh roasted peanuts, freshly cooked party mixes, a large assortment of raw nuts and a colorful assortment of candies. They even sell some nice tins that they can fill to order if you’re in need of a gift.

Friends, I loved it there. The natural light, the glass front displays of goodies and friendly people happy to scoop up whatever treat your heart desires made my day. The place is both timeless and like a time machine back to your childhood.

Pat said to me “We serve up smiles here.”

Yes they do. I certainly was smiling when I left with my paper bag full of treats. Look them up the next time you head to a show at one of the downtown theaters or when you tour the Ohio Statehouse. You won’t be able to resist the goodies!

Find The Peanut Shoppe at 21 East State Street, just across from the Ohio Statehouse. You can also follow them on Facebook!

Ohio Statehouse Tour

They call it the People’s House but most Ohioans seem not to know they can tour the Ohio Statehouse for free. Some kids get to visit on school field trips but I was never so lucky.

Since I have visited other statehouses, it seemed appropriate to tour my own.

Ohio became a state on March 1, 1803 but Columbus didn’t became the State Capital until 1817. Before that, the Capital was located in Chillicothe and then Zanesville and then Chillicothe again before being permanently established in Columbus where it would be central to all Ohioans.

It was surprising to learn that we came very close to losing this building in the late eighties thanks to overcrowding, decades of neglect and absolutely no ADA access. It’s a shame to think that razing this nice old building was an actual option. Luckily, someone saw value in the history and they finished a museum quality restoration of the statehouse in 1996.

The cornerstone for this building was laid in 1839 but it wasn’t opened to the public until 1857. The building was constructed using a workforce of prison laborers from the Ohio Penitentiary.

These skilled laborers had experience building the nearby Ohio Lunatic Asylum. In the museum, you’ll find a display containing tools used in the construction, a photo of some of the inmates and a ball and chain that was worn by one of those prisoners while he worked.

Can you imagine doing manual labor like that with a ball and chain in tow? One guy on my tour was shocked to see this particular artifact, exclaiming “I didn’t think that was a real thing!”

There’s so many noteworthy to tell you about this place. Look closely and you’ll notice fossils in the stone from a local quarry. In fact, college classes come to study the fossils throughout the building.

It was wired for electricity in 1892 but prior to that, natural light was vital. That’s why the building was designed with four light courts. These areas had slate floors and no roofs, allowing plenty of natural light and fresh air into interior offices through windows that opened into the light courts.

After the advent of electricity, these light courts were all enclosed to pack in a bunch of small offices that our tour guide suggested were cramped and a poorly planned fire hazard. During the renovation, these offices were removed and one of the light courts was transformed to accommodate an elevator.

The Rotunda is the centerpiece of this building and a glass dome allows sunlight to shine down on the place where President Lincoln’s body lay in state during the trip from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.

Look closely at the skylight and you’ll notice something in the center. You would need binoculars to tell what it is but it’s an 1847 version of Ohio’s seal. This area features some gorgeous, ginormous paintings including William H. Powell’s Perry’s Victory.

Our tour guide told us the Statehouse is a popular wedding venue and that they are currently booked 30 months out for weddings. Event planners, florists and caterers were all abuzz preparing for a wedding that was taking place in the rotunda that evening. In fact, they had booked the entire building with the ceremony, bar and dining all happening in different areas.

The event planner in my little nerd heart was impressed with their decor choices and overwhelmed with the cost of it all. It was magnificent.

Anyway, the building is filled with symbolism and themes like flowers and circles. There are lots of stairs too and they are said to symbolize power, control and authority. Climbing them takes you to higher levels and reminds you there is no elevator to success.

This tour takes you behind the locked doors of the Senate Chambers where you’ll find elaborate decor, stained glass, chandeliers and lamps. The floral carpet is a reproduction of the 1856 original. If the Senate is in session, you’re welcome to sit in on their discussions and votes.

If you go, it takes just an hour for the guided tour and then you’re welcome to explore independently.

There is a nice museum that you’ll want to explore. It covers Ohio history and voting rights in Ohio through the centuries. You do have to go through security to get in the building. There’s an underground parking garage with reasonable rates but the tour is free.

Magnificent Saturday

Saturday was a magnificent day for adventure and I cannot wait to tell you about the things I did.

It was unseasonably warm and sunny in central Ohio with temperatures topping out in the mid seventies. This made for perfect road trip weather as it was warm enough to roll down the car windows and even to eat outside.

My first destination was Franklin Park Conservatory where I admired orchids, sought out the Chihuly art on permanent display and befriended some butterflies. One of them even landed on my camera lens in a moment so special and fleeting I hardly had time to absorb it until it was over.

I finished my visit there with an Impossible Burger from their cafe. I have found that places like museums, conservatories and other cultural sites are more open minded or at least more inclusive and more likely to offer vegetarian and gluten-free options than many regular restaurants. This is certainly the case at their small cafe.

I moved past the crowds huddled inside and took advantage of the completely empty outdoor seating area. Here I had a great time people watching while I enjoyed a tasty lunch and planned my next step.

That next step was to visit the Ohio Statehouse for a tour. My family has been in Ohio for hundreds of years and I’m guessing I am the first to tour this historic building. Afterward, I strolled the grounds and the vicinity nearby.

My final stop was the Peanut Shoppe, an old school candy and peanut shoppe that made my day.

Per usual Brandi fashion, I avoided the highways and opted to travel St. Rt. 104 which is lined with an unsettling amount of new housing developments and commercial buildings encroaching on historic farms.

I came home relaxed and a little tired from my day of exploration and learning. All these topics deserve a conversation so just consider this a sneak peak of what’s to come! Come back tomorrow for more.