Old Zanesville Post Office

This grand building is the old post office in Zanesville, Ohio. An enormous Beaux Arts building, it was designed by Cleveland architect George F.Hammond and built in 1904. Stone eagles stand sentinel over an entrance framed by imposing columns.

Just one of the gorgeous light fixtures remain and vines grow up the walls but it looks sturdy. It’s sad to see it abandoned and I can’t help but dream about all the potential. I have seen other towns carve up a space like this to provide storefronts for small businesses like retail shops, art studios and cafes. It would make a terrific event center too.

This is the kind of place that keeps me looking and traveling. I was driving through and just stopped to nose around downtown Zanesville on my way home from Jamestown, New York. It was a great surprise and a fun find. I’m grateful that I had a chance to see it in its abandoned beauty.

The Diamond In A Hallmark Town

The crown jewel of Ligonier, the thing that makes this Pennsylvania town seem like a real life Hallmark village, is the Diamond.

This busy intersection is surrounded by charming shops and restaurants as well as a gorgeous old stone church and the town hall. Inside the Diamond is a park featuring a bandstand, benches and plenty of greenery.

Calling a town commons a Diamond is actually a tradition from Northern Ireland that was brought here by the Scots-Irish people who settled that area. The Ligonier Borough Council made this space a park in 1894, an act that seemed incredibly forward thinking.

Right now, the Diamond is all decked out for Christmas with lights in the trees, a nativity, gingerbread house and caroler statues. The most picturesque feature is a tree with presents inside the bandstand.

We spent Friday afternoon browsing the shops and admiring handmade jewelry, cute clothes and an enormous selection of Christmas ornaments at one particularly fabulous shop. We later saw the lights turn on at dusk as we we savored sweet Mexican pastries in a restaurant across the street. We returned after dark to take our time strolling through and enjoying the many features here in the Diamond.

The town clock chimed seven while we stood there absorbing the beauty of this place. Christmas music played somewhere in the distance as couples scurried down the street to the town hall where the historical society was hosting their annual Christmas extravaganza.

The only way it could have been more perfect is if it were snowing and I was in the back of a one horse open sleigh. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about some shops I enjoyed.

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.

Denver Mural

Denver has a vibrant arts scene and is teeming with murals. Some are elaborate, amazing works of art that are easily viewed from afar while others are tucked away in alleys and other right spaces. I mostly just enjoyed them from the car window but snapped a few pictures.

Here’s one I especially liked.

The colors really popped against the glass and steel buildings and the grey morning sky.

Public art, especially the well done kind, is one of my favorite things to look for when I travel.

Davie’s Chuck Wagon Diner

As we approached Davie’s Chuck Wagon Diner, I reminded Johnna that I wanted to eat there for the atmosphere and offered to buy her lunch if our breakfast was terrible.

Honestly, I really just wanted to see the sign and figured it was worth the visit if the food was at all decent. There was no need to worry as the quality of the food and service surpassed even the fabulous atmosphere of this 1957 era diner.

It’s a prefab diner, manufactured in New Jersey and shipped by train to its home here on Denver’s Colfax Ave. Weighing in at 46 tons, transporting these old diners and placing them on their foundations was no small task.

Look at that sign.

Tabletop juke boxes, gorgeous tile work and a counter full of regulars make for great atmosphere. The menu features your traditional diner fare and our waitress was amazing. We hardly waited five minutes before she returned with our steaming hot breakfast plates. I had a veggie omelette, hash browns and sourdough toast and it was all delicious.

Check out these horse tiles.

And the pink tile ladies room.

And the regulars at the counter!

Davie’s Chuck Wagon Diner is well worth a visit if you enjoy diners and vintage okaces. Find the location, hours and menu at their website by clicking here!

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.