Christmas Fun In Chillicothe

Downtown Chillicothe hosted a holiday open house this weekend. I met a friend for lunch yesterday and we browsed a few shops.

We even met Father Christmas who turned out to be an old friend of mine. His name is Gary and his wife Pam is an artist who has painted a few of the murals I’ve mentioned here.

Chillicothe is experiencing quite the renaissance as there have been several interesting shops and restaurants popping up in the downtown area over the last few years. Friends who live there don’t seem especially impressed but I think it’s exciting to see so many speciality shops that you don’t find just anywhere.

There are a couple of trendy boutiques for women’s clothing and some good antique stores. What’s more impressive to me is that they have a fantastic independent bookstore, a record store and a bike shop. These kinds of specialty stores are becoming hard to find and it’s rare to find them all in one smallish town. There’s even a place that sells stained glass supplies and offers classes. I interviewed the owner once for a work project and was delighted to learn how busy they are.

In the mix you’ll find a store that sells military miniatures, a cute bakery and a candy store. The Majestic Theater, which I have written about a couple of times, is in the neighborhood and is again hosting performances.

Yoctangee Park provides green space and renovations are underway at a few buildings.

We had a good lunch at Fire and Stone Pizzeria. It’s rare for me to be impressed by a restaurant salad but this one was really good and their house ranch was delicious.

I also picked up a couple of books at Wheatberry Bookstore including this nice volume of holiday stories by Truman Capote. I intend to jump into this book momentarily.

Plus I saw my friend who I see approximately once every 12.5 years so that was nice too!

Chillicothe has much history as the city was the first and third Capitol of Ohio and has rich Native American history as well. Plus, they sometimes hold events like this Christmas open house, the ghost walk I have written about here and other fun activities. If you’re looking for a day trip in southern Ohio, this may be a good choice for you.

Autumn Weekend

See it, smell it, taste it, and forget the time of day or year. Autumn needs no clock or calendar. Hal Borland

I took this quote seriously this weekend and gleefully abandoned the clock to enjoy a quiet weekend mostly at home. I have been tired lately and I believe in listening to my body when it asks me to slow down. Not to mention, it has been gloomy, cool and rainy for a few days – ideal conditions to stay inside where it’s cozy.

To quote the frightfully wise six-year-old Wednesday Addams in the original 1964 television classic The Addams Family – “It’s so nice and gloomy.”

So I lit some candles, did a few small chores and slept in two days in a row. Well, I slept in as much as Scout would allow. Mostly, I read. My goal to read 100 books in 2021 seems well beyond reach as I am a daunting seven books behind schedule.

And, of course, Scout was thrilled to have me here and a happy cat makes for a happier life. The paper sack picture was made this weekend. All of the fall pictures came from early last week.

This was just before dusk and the light was lovely in places. Here’s one more for good measure.

So, here we are back at Monday. That means different things to everyone but whatever you do today, I hope you’re kind to yourself.

Hillsboro Halloween House

Last year on Halloween I was out wandering around doing my usual Saturday thing when I came upon something that caused me to slam on the brakes.

Here it is.

This private residence in all its spectacular over-the-top Halloween glory is situated across the street from the Rite Aid in Hillsboro, Ohio.

Isn’t it fabulous?

Oddly enough, no one else seemed to be paying any attention. I’m assuming this is an annual tradition given the extent of the decorations, the creativity and presumed cost involved in making this macabre display.

Honestly, Halloween isn’t really my holiday but I couldn’t get enough of it.

These horses were pulling a hearse.

It’s a lot to look at and I’m guessing the neighbors aren’t super thrilled but I bet it’s fabulous after dark.

Sit A Spell

This looks like a great place to sit and read a book or plan an adventure. I’m eight books behind in my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge so a peaceful place to read sounds incredible.

This lake is my go-to place to walk so I literally have never sat down here for even a minute. In fact, you rarely see anyone sitting on the benches around the lake. Is life really so busy that we don’t have time to sit and relax on a gorgeous fall day?

Seems kind of silly, doesn’t it?

First Presbyterian Church of Ironton

One of the truly magnificent things about wandering this earth the way I do is that I often meet people by chance and see unexpected wonders.

Saturday morning found me meandering down Rt. 93 into Lawrence County where I soaked in the autumn weather, occasionally doubling back to grab a picture here and there. When I finally reached downtown Ironton, I parked near the county courthouse and set about enjoying the architecture.

One of the best qualities of an old river town is the variety of architectural styles and Ironton is quite nice in this regard.

From the corner of Fifth and Center streets, you can see several historic churches. It is a beautiful vantage point. The most notable and fascinating of these is a block down and looks like something from nineteenth century England.

It is a substantial, magnificent building with a tower that soars high above the street. I walked down Fifth Street for a closer look and to learn that it is the First Presbyterian Church.

I snapped a few photos, admiring the clock tower and imagining what the stained glass windows must look like from inside on a sunny day. A church history flier indicates that the architecture of this building is so unusual that the only other church like it in America is in Bedford, Massachusetts.

As I turned to walk away, I encountered a man on the sidewalk. We smiled at each other and I mentioned how beautiful the church is. He smiled even bigger and asked if I would like to see inside.

When I responded that I would love to if he had the time, he said that he would make the time. My new friend was Pastor Carson Hunt. He seemed like a genuinely nice man who is quick to invite strangers to become visitors and visitors to become members. He seemed happy to tell me about the history, pleased to point out special details and glad to share about some recent improvement projects.

Please understand that my adventure days are nearly always Saturdays and finding a church unlocked on a Saturday is rare. That means I seldom get to see inside. The simple offer to go in was a real treat but Pastor Carson didn’t just let me come inside. He turned on the lights and played some music so I could appreciate the acoustics. I wandered around at my leisure as he shared some of the history.

It was one of those rare experiences that made my day truly special.

The congregation dates back to the founding of Ironton in the middle of the nineteenth century. When the city was laid out, the proprietors of Iron and Coal Company gave one lot to every church organized in the city limits. This explains why there are so many historic churches in close proximity.

Hiram Campbell was a local businessman and played an important role in the history of the First Presbyterian Church. Pastor Carson explained that Mr Campbell donated the church’s principal stained glass window in memory of his brother John, the city’s founder. Located in the south gable, it features four distinct scenes that tell the story of John Campbell who died while a missionary in Africa. One panel depicts his missionary work while another panel shows a ship on the high seas. A third shows an open Bible and the final panel shows a cross and crown.

It’s stunning.

This is one of those churches that feels ornate but simple, fancy but comfortable, reverent but welcoming. There’s something really special about this place and I was incredibly grateful for the peak inside.

Like most congregations across the country, they are struggling to grow despite outreach attempts. But he said they are still holding their own and he is grateful for each and every one of their members.

He and some other gentlemen were working Saturday. He mentioned fresh paint on the doors and a new hot water heater as well as a number of ongoing projects that made me think this magnificent old church is fortunate to have some attentive caretakers.

This made me happy.

Pastor Carson invited me to visit anytime and I am certain he would want me to invite all of you as well. If you’re looking for a new church home or simply somewhere to visit, you will be welcomed with open arms. Be sure to stay for donuts and fellowship after Sunday service.

They take part in a historic church tour organized by the historical society every December. This would provide you with opportunity to see inside several of these historic churches.

Want more information? You can find them on Facebook.

Golden

Things were quite golden nearly everywhere I went in southern Ohio Saturday.

Here’s the view early morning at Lake Alma.

And a couple of hours later, to the south at Lake Vesuvius.

The sky was a gorgeous blue for much of the day and the aroma of campfire smoke hung in the air. It was a spectacular day to be out and to be free.