Review

Places to go and things to see

Dayton Metro Library’s New Branches

Locations: http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations

http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org

We previously mentioned that the Dayton Metro Library has a plan to change and update all of its branches. But how has that plan turned out?

The Main Public Library:

The new main branch from the outside seems completely different. As if the old building was torn down and a new one built. This is mostly the case. The main structure was saved but the building was rebuilt. The building was enlarged to almost 4 times it’s previous size. Administrative offices and services for the entire system were given their own building freeing up even more room. The difference is very noticeable.

Parking was always a problem in the busy downtown area around the library. A new underground parking garage was added and eliminated a lot of the problem. From the garage, or the street, patrons now enter into a large open “lobby”. Where as the old branch had an entrance / checkout area, the new branch has a large 3 story entryway with an inviting staircase topped by a new art installation. The entryway is the first taste patrons will get of the much more open design.

“Fractal Rain” an art instillation at the Dayton Metro Main Branch

The open design is also evident in the shelves themselves. With the new focus on community space, and less on physical media, the materials the library offers are integrated into the openness without being any sort of a focus. Somehow they feel both hidden and easy to find at the same time. The collection shares space with the technology available for use. The computers, digital microfiche machines, seating, and tables all take up space through out the building with no single dedicated space.

The new building is not just one open space however. On the first floor are two exhibit rooms. They are used to show of community works, traveling exhibits, or any of a variety of other things. There is also is a multi-use lecture hall, The Eichelberger Forum performance space . Where the old buildings hall and spaces were hidden, the new building makes them a focal point. One wall of the Forum can be opened for an inviting space, or closed for a more formal hall. Upstairs there is a black box theatre, a green screen room and the technology to use it, a Dayton History room, and a quite outdoor patio with nice views of the city.

Through out the branch are space for the community to come and interact, or to be alone. There are many small group rooms, each equipped with a large monitor / TV, a desk, and comfortable seating. These reservable spaces can be used as a meeting space for professional or recreational use. There is a large quiet reading room to get away from the noise. Like to cozy up to a fire and read a good book. They have a few of them with plush seating too.

Local Branches:

The new local branches are just smaller more community centric versions of the Main branch.  Instead of cookie cutter branches the Dayton Metro Library built unique places that reflect the spirit of the local area, while delivering to the needs of that community. Each building is adorned with art work inspired by pieces of art, selected by the community, from the Dayton Art Institute’s collection. They have a 24 hour lobby with self check in and hold lockers. No longer does a late night worker have to worry about the branches hours to get and return items. The local branches also all have computers, laptops, tablets, and more available, with friendly staff to assist any needs. Like the main branch the focus has turned away from the physical collection and more to the community. The shelves are smaller and more tucked away, but still easy to navigate. The extra space has been given to small group study areas, quiet reading rooms, fireplaces and comfy chairs, and a single large Community Room. The community rooms even have outside entrances for after hour use.

The Dayton Metro Library’s goal in the system wide update has changed the feeling of the branches from grab and go to a place to stop and relax. All this has been done while they have been able to meet the needs of each community, from a need for more computers in some areas, to more community space in others.

As this is written more and more branches open. Not all branches are finalized and we are excited to return sometime and see how the new ones look. 

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Dayton’s Black Box Theaters

Dayton has had an active arts scene since the end of the Civil war, probably since the first human stepped foot in the area. While the bigger Schuster, Victoria, or Loft get all the praise, the city has many, many little theaters too. The smaller theaters are sometimes just black rooms with an area for the audience to sit and an area for the performers to perform.  These little spaces are known as Black Box Theaters.

Bassani Theater off Third
http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations/main

This theater is housed inside the Dayton Metro Library’s Main branch. It was Built during the Major renovation (stay tuned for more on that) of the Main Branch. Almost not a theater, it is a large room with lights, space, and great views of the city. This one is more a multi use room than a dedicated theater. When they do have show they are mostly free, being a library and all.

The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center
https://www.humanracetheatre.org/about/philips-center

This 54 person seat is run by the Human Race Theater Company. They mostly make it available to be rented. It is a good place to stage a one person show or other experiential work. While small it is large enough and has a lighting rigs and a good sound system. Shows are intimate but if designed for the space can be amazing.

PNC Arts Annex
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/arts-annex/

The 200-seat theatre and Studio space is the newest arts venue in town. It is located across the street from the Schuster and the Arts Parking Garage. The space was built to take advantage of the unused property in the heart of Dayton’s “Theater District.” This space is used for more experimental productions, smaller local companies, and other events and productions. The space is more intimate than the Broadway style theater whose shadow it lives in, but has more equipment than the other Black Box theaters of the region.

Mathile Theatre
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/schuster-center/

A “56’ x 36’, 150-seat black box” in the heart of the Schuster Preforming Arts Center. The space is used as a rehearsal space mostly. It is then rented out of private events, like wedding receptions and the like. Due to the location, and the forethought of the Victoria Theater Association,  it can actually be used along side the large Mead theater. Like the Bassani Theater off Third, it is mostly just a multi use room. However this one is backed by one of the best theater groups in the state.

 

 

Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre

138 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/victoria-theatre/

Theater has a long history in the Buckeye state. in the early days it was preformed in city halls, churches, and living rooms. After the Civil War there was an explosion of theaters across the state and the country. The industrial revolution had made cities larger and with more people came more need for entertainment. Dayton was no different. In 1866 the Turner opera house opened.

After a few years it burned down and was rebuilt. This new theater lasted changed names a few times but lasted into the 20th century. In 1913 heavy rains flooded the city and the Victoria Theatre. The theater was rebuilt but only 5 years later a fire gutted it. After rebuilding again the theater found fame. Housing plays, orchestra concerts (even creating The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930), and movies, the theater was in its prime. With the spread of the suburbs in the late 1960’s the theater, and downtown Dayton, faced economic decline. In 1970’s it was scheduled to be torn down. Dayton citizens, with their history of saving classic old buildings, found a way to save the building by founding the Victory Theatre Association. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the theater and after $17.5 Million in renovations opened it as the Victoria Theatre. The organization did so well in bringing theater back downtown that it was able to open the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center across the street.

The Victoria Theatre is one of the state’s classic old theaters. Updated slightly, and modernized with new equipment, the feel is still that of the 1988 renovation, which harked back to the original look of the place. The lobby houses a small bar / concessions area and restrooms. At the end of the lobby are the doors to the main floor of the theater and the stairs to the upper lobby and balcony. Inside the theater the seats are comfortable and the view decent. The older style seating can lead to obstructed views depending on the people sitting in front of one. The 1154 seats themselves are comfortable and not to small. The balcony has a steep rise and most seats have a good view from it. The stage is large enough to not feel out of place in the venue.

The theater is smaller than some of the other venues in the state. While the Broadway touring productions have moved across the street to the large Schuster Center. The intimate size is not as well suited for the larger productions any more, as the shows get grander and grander. The venue is great for the smaller shows the theater preforms. Small musical groups, one man shows, and family theater are housed there and do quite well. The theater even returns to it’s movie palace heydays in the Summer with the Cool Film Series.

From its early days after the Civil War to its revitalization to its modern use, The Victoria Theater has become a main stay of the Dayton, and even Ohio, theater scene.

 

The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights

6800 Executive Blvd, Huber Heights, OH 45424

https://www.rosemusiccenter.com

The Dayton area is no stranger to outdoor concert venues. Since 1991 there has been the Fraze Pavilion. Last year Levitt Pavilion in downtown opened for free concerts. The largest by far is the The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights.

The Rose Music Center is located north of town in the city of Hube Heights. The venue opened in 2015 and is the first in a group of building being developed in the area. It is right of the highway and very easy to spot standing by itself in a field. It also is one of the largest buildings in the area, which doesn’t hurt.

The Center has plenty of parking and is well suited for the crowds that it attracts. The interior is just a row of concession stands restrooms and the performance area. The concessions are standard concert venue far with hot dogs, sandwiches, and plenty to drink. Offerings are the same across the entire pavilion. No need to walk far distances for something special. The area around the center is also full of many options for a bite before the show, with more being built in the future. The restrooms are large and right next to the entrance of the seating area. They handle a lot of people and tend to back up very little at busy times.

The actual performance area is the main draw of the center. Unlike the Fraze all seats are covered. This roof covers the seats but is high enough not to block any views and to allow for ventilation on the hot summer nights. Containing 4,200 seat, it is one of  larger venues in the county. The seating area is wide and deep angling toward the decently sized stage. Some of the back seats can be a little far from the stage, but are not too far to be able to enjoy the show. The back section is angled steep enough that views are not blocked too much. There are video screens and a good sound system to help make sure everyone has a good time, not just the people in front. The seats are comfortable without being anything to special. The Rose Center is located along a major highway (I-70). This makes for easy access to and from an event. This also means that during busy times some of the noise from the road will bleed into the venue. Any performance will usually drown this out.

The selection of acts are very similar to the ones at the Fraze. From well known new acts to older bands, The Rose has a little bit of something for everyone. While the Greater Dayton area seem too small to support two large venues, the differences between the more intimate feeling Fraze and the grand scale of the Rose set them apart enough for both venues to be supported and loved.

As the weather heats up so do the summer tours and The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights is a great place to see a loved band or find a new favorite.

Ohio Theater (Columbus)

model of Ohio Theater

39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre

All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues.  One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.

The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.

The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is.  Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.

The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.

Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state. 

 

 

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Address:

Sullivant Hall, 1813 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43210

https://cartoons.osu.edu

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is located on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. This museum houses the world’s largest collection of cartoons and comics. The college started collecting artwork in the 1970’s when it was given the collection of Dayton native and world famous cartoonist Milton Caniff, and has grown since. The museum is open to public most afternoons. Their is also library where one can study cartoons and comics.

The collection includes, editorial cartoons, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, spots cartoons, magazine cartoons. The museum itself is made of a few galleries filled with cartoons and comics. There is tons to look at an explore. The museum has special exhibits through out the year and many exhibits are rotated. When we went there was a really great Mad Exhibit.

The admission is free, so coming many times a year is needed to see the new exhibits. There is parking in the area, free and at a cost. Most likely, one will have to pay, so look at the options and find out the best deals. The time it takes to visit the museum all depends on how long one spends reading the cartoons. There is lots of fun comics to read, so take the museum leisurely.  The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is really unique museum that is easy to access. You do not have to be a lover of comics, to enjoy this museum.

Tip: The museum is located on the campus of one of Americas biggest Universities. The place will be busy during the school year and a madhouse at football time. 

 

 

Fort Meigs

29100 W River Rd, Perrysburg, OH 43551

https://www.fortmeigs.org

Following the Siege of Fort Meigs the fort was no longer needed.  A smaller fort was built but abandoned at the end of the war. As the years went on the site was left but not forgotten. 1864, during another American war, brothers Timothy and Thomas Hayes bought the land and decided to preserve it for all that had fallen. In 1907 their family decided to sell it to the state of Ohio. One year later a large monument was installed by veterans of the Civil War to honor those from the War of 1812. In the 1960’s the Ohio History Society decided to rebuilt the Fort. The new recreated Fort opened in 1974. After nearly 30 years the Fort was starting to show its age and in 2000 the Fort was rebuilt again. This new Fort now stands proudly along the Maumee.

The Fort is split into two main parts, the Fort and the Museum. Starting with the Fort is a good idea. The land has change overtime but the Fort itself was recreated to be as accurate as possible. Inside the its walls are the embankments, like those that protected the men during the battle, blockhouses, and the memorial erected by the Civil War veterans. At first this seems like any other recreation of a fort. Walking around the grounds one can get a feel for how big the Fort was. The land however does not really give much for the feel of the time, or the life of a soldier. One can go inside the blockhouse too.

The blockhouses, all seven of them, are the real treat to the Fort recreation. Unlike some recreations where it is a blank building, or just a few items, these are full museum rooms.  Inside are displays about the time of the Fort, the life of the soldiers, and the activities of the siege. They include maps, very detailed models, and interactive displays. All of the blockhouses are separated into one aspect each, but together make up a large museum. Each one must be entered to get the whole story of the Fort.

Outside the trails include the paths that the would have been used at the time. They follow along the outer edge along the wall going from house to house. At certain points the wall is lower and the river can be seen, or the field where the British and Tecumseh’s men were stationed. At these points are cannons ready to defend the Fort.

Inside the visitors center is a nice video, museum, and the gift shop. While the Fort is about the battle, the museum is more about times before the conflict, the times of the greater conflict, and how we know what we know than it is the siege itself. This is where the actual artifacts are housed. Along side the artifacts are stories of how they were found. Pictures of the archaeological digs, tales of the interpretation needed, and questions still left unanswered. The museum is a great companion to the Fort.

From the Fort to the fields to the Museum, Fort Meigs is a great place to learn about a piece of American history that helped to keep us free, the life and times of the men and women who fought, and we can keep their history alive.

Cantwell Cliffs

Address: State Route 374, Logan, Ohio 43138

Websites: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/recreation/cantwell-cliffs

This is going to be a short review of Cantwell Cliffs. Cantwell Cliffs is part of Hocking Hills State Park. This park is 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave, so it is not as well visited as other parks of Hocking Hills State Park. This makes the place less crowded. The trails in Cantwell Cliffs are 1 to 2 miles. These trails are listed as difficult by the park’s website. This is very true as the trails are full of steps and inclines. There are two main trails. One on the rim of the cliffs is easier and less rocky. The lower trail is more of a challenge.  Both are relatively short and can be done in one day. Getting between the two can be an adventure in itself.

 

This woodland park is full of waterfalls (even though one website says there are none), steps, cliffs, waterways, and other natural beauty. The park might not be accessible by everyones ability level, but it is a very nice change to the other parks in the area. So, if you able and willing for a challenge, this park’s natural beauty will amaze. 

 

 

Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138 

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/plan/welcome-centers

The Hocking Hills Welcome Center is one of the best places to start a trip to the Hocking Hills region. The center is located at the edge of downtown Logan, Ohio. It is a great place to get trail maps and information on the less traveled trails and parks of the region. Inside are brochures and guides on more than just the natural wonders, with lots of information on businesses catering to visitors. It also has a large collection of menus from local restaurants for anyone trying to decide where to go after a long day on the trail.

While the world has gone digital and most information is online, the centers staff is quite helpful and a great resource. They are happy to help visitors find the regions popular destinations, local resources, and hidden gems. The center also has many paper maps that are great for using on the trails or roads of the region. In an area where mobile phone reception can be and usually is spotty, this can be a real life saver.

While there don’t forget to leave enough time to go to the Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum just outside the front doors. This is one of the regions hidden treasures.

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum Sign

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located next to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. This museum is an oversized garden shed. What the museum lacks in size it makes up in the size of the collection. The museum houses the collection of Paul Johnson. There are over 3,400 pencil sharpeners in the collection. It is just one room. A person can stand in the middle and turn three sixty and see the whole museum. A visit to the area should include this museum. It will not take long to see, but will amaze one in the amount and variety of pencil sharpeners. It is one of Ohio’s hidden treasures. So, make it a point to see this museum.