The Murphy Theater

The Murphy Theater has graced downtown Wilmington, Ohio since July 1918, just a few months before World War I ended. It was opened by a fellow named Charles Murphy who envisioned a grand theater for his hometown.

In 1929, Chakares Theaters of Springfield came knocking and leased the theater for many years. They installed modern equipment to accommodate modern movies – at that time called “talkies” and they remodeled. It did well during the Chakares years but began to struggle when the multiplexes became popular

By the eighties, Mr Murphy’s heirs wanted to sell the theater and a non-profit organization was born to save the theater and give it new life.

Today the theater hosts local productions, touring performers, meeting and weddings. According to their website, it sounds like a work in progress as they are wrapping up a new pub and concessions area.

The front of the theater with its box office, tile work and marquee is magnificent. It’s a real show stopper and, once this darn pandemic is over, I look forward to seeing a show there. This has been a tough year for many and I’m trying to use my resources smartly to support those small businesses and organizations that badly need us.

It was locked up right the day I was there but someday I will go back and stay at the historic General Denver Hotel down the street and see a show! Click here to read another story about Downtown Wilmington.

Heritage Harvesters Mural

If you ever drive down Main Street through downtown Wilmington, you would be hard pressed to miss the Heritage Harvesters mural. It’s 63’x50′ and is a tribute to local farmers. Painted by artist Jason Morgan who also created the Community Garden mural, it portrays farmers connected to the Ohio Century Farms in Clinton County.

It’s jaw dropping, partly for its sheer size and partly for the realism of the people. It looks like the Grapes of Wrath come to life.

Find it on the corner of Main and South streets.

Community Garden

Downtown Wilmington is known for its murals. This Community Garden piece was painted by Jason Morgan to celebrate the area’s love of gardening and farming.

It’s a real show stopper.

There’s even a cat and he looks incredibly realistic.

In fact the entire scene seems realistic, as though the people could say howdy and offer you a tomato.

Find this mural on Locust Street in the city’s historic downtown.

Sugartree Mill Company

Wilmington, Ohio is home to a fantastic store that’s located in an old flour mill. It’s called Sugartree Mill Company and here you’ll find a nice assortment of antiques, reproductions and all the little things you need to make your house feel like a home.

As it turns out, this business is loosely tied to the Martinsville Road Covered Bridge that I wrote about yesterday. You see, that bridge was built by Champion Bridge Company in 1871. That Wilmington based company is still in operation and is one of the oldest bridge builders in the US.

The people who own that company bought the circa 1881 mill a few years ago and breathed new life into it. The place has tremendous character with light and airy spaces, archways, exposed brick and gorgeous displays of new and old pieces.

They have a great selection of artificial flowers and plants that are so realistic you may forget and give them water.

There are table linens, garden decor, stationary, jewelry and more. There are also a lot of antique and vintage items including some things I hadn’t seen before.

I was enamored with this handmade carousel horse and a vintage typewriter. They have a handful of things that aren’t for sale including the witness stand from the Municipal Courtroom in the old Wilmington City Hall.

The area pictured above made me want to sit a spell with a book and a cat.

I needed nothing but found a deal on a vintage suitcase and throughly enjoyed the shopping experience.

It never ceases to amaze me how connected things are in this world. I went looking for the bridge and the store that day separately and without knowing there was any connection. The bridge company only entered my consciousness when putting together yesterday’s story about the pretty red bridge and I was surprised to see the builder come up in the conversation about this store.

These small surprises are perhaps my favorite part of this world.

Want to visit Sugartree Mill Company? Click here for their hours, address and other details.

From Barnyard To Backyard

Buckley Brothers, Inc. started in 1904 as a partnership between two brothers. They operated a wheat buying station in Kingman, Ohio but later moved into Wilmington where they expanded over a period of decades.

Much has changed since those early days. Now they operate three drive-thru feed stores and two retail stores. Their motto “from barnyard to backyard” reflects their growth to consistently stock pet food, horse and livestock food, bird seed, water softener salt and bird seed. They also provide a grain market for area farmers

All these years later it’s still a Buckley family owned operation, an impressive accomplishment given how volatile their field of service can be.

As for myself, I just liked the yellow sign against the brick and the blue sky. Shallow, perhaps, but it did at least cause me to look them up and learn something new!

A Splendid Surprise

There’s a delightful nook between buildings on Main Street in downtown Wilmington. It’s just a few doors down from the historic Murphy Theater and is easy to miss from a car. This picture shows the view looking out on the busy street.

There’s a bench and a little free library. Some plantings help absorb the traffic noise and it seems positively tranquil.

I had miles to go when I stumbled into this spot on Saturday so it was important to resist the urge to sit down here with a book.

Perhaps another day.

The best towns have splendid surprises like this and a secret garden seems an ideal way to use a vacant lot!