Friday, January 30, 2015

It’s Alive!

Butler County is full of history and interesting stories. Did you know that Butler County has its own historical collaborative? After speaking with the members at the January meeting, you’d be surprised what little known facts are stirring in the Butler County history books. So put aside the notion that history isn’t exciting, it’s alive and present all throughout the county.

Information provided by the Butler County Historical Society
Ever wondered what the home of a self-made millionaire from Butler County’s home would look like? To check that off of your bucket list, plan on a visit to the Benninghofen House in Hamilton. Built in 1863, three different families made 327 N. Second Street their home. 

The house survived the 1913 flood. The basement was totally flooded and the water was over three feet deep on the first floor, and the first floor is over four feet above street level. The kitchen, which had been located in the basement, was moved upstairs after the flood.

Portraits of notable people from Butler County adorn the walls, and the house is filled with Victorian style furniture and accessories. Indian relics from the five tribes that inhabited this area can be found in the basement of the house and in the adjoining research library located behind the house.

Seen the movie, National Treasure? Remember the part when the Declaration of Independence is stolen from the National Archive? Did you know that Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton
built the safe and display area that protects the original copies of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence at the National Archive in Washington, D.C.? You can learn more about this, and other industry from Butler County by visiting the auditorium attached to the Benninghofen House.

Interest peaked? Make sure that a visit to the Butler County Historical Society, 327 N. Second Street, Hamilton is on your bucket list. There will be special exhibits opening late this spring highlighting the Beckett Paper Mill and wedding fashions from the early 1800s through the 1950s.

Information provided by the Friends of Chrisholm
The Chrisholm Historic Farmstead has had very interesting and famous people descend from their modest Amish Mennonite farming roots including Esther Price, of Chocolate Candy fame, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, 1927, Arthur Holly Compton, for "The Compton Effect" and Charles Richter, who developed the "Richter Scale", the traditional technique used for measuring the magnitude of earthquakes. 

The Friends of Chrisholm, who will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year, will be hosting "An Earth-Shaking Weekend" from April 24-26, beginning with Richter's birthday celebration and featuring speakers addressing the link between fracking and recent Ohio quakes and the importance of two of our precious natural resources, soil and water. 

Information provided by Judge Randy T. Rogers
“We have steps … almost,” reports Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers. Work on the current l North Steps reconstruction project at the historic Butler County Courthouse began last fall, but weather and other unforeseen circumstances delayed completion of the project. The venerable Butler County Courthouse opened in 1889 and has survived a deadly fire, a devastating flood and an improbable hurricane. The Courthouse was added to the Natural Register of Historic Places in 1981. This extraordinary building remains the home of the Butler County Probate Court, and also houses the Butler County Area II Court. 

The cost to restore the steps on the High Street side of the Courthouse is $91,994, and Coon Restoration and Sealants, Inc. and Lithko Contracting, Inc. are doing the work.  With good weather the project should be complete before Valentine’s Day, which will warm the hearts of those who value this durable symbol of local government.

Information provided by the Liberty Township Historical Society
The Liberty Township Historical Society, formed in 1975, was started by a group of residents with an interest in preserving and restoring the one-room Hughes Schoolhouse. The brick structure on Princeton Road adjacent to Liberty Elementary School was falling into disrepair and was destined for demolition. The research, design, funding as well as the labor was the society’s primary mission for many years. Upon completion of the restoration, the group was successful in having the school placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Information provided by the MidPointe Library System
Children's Day, August 18, 1913, was a special day for the children of Middletown. It was the first time after the 1913 Flood that a special day was set-aside for them. This very interesting photograph was taken looking east from the corner of Broad and Third (Central Avenue) Streets. It states that 3,000 were in the parade. The children got to ride in automobiles – many for the first time. There was also a band concert and a picnic – all for the children. Seen in the background is the superstructure of the old lift bridge that was across the Miami-Erie Canal. Some of the buildings on the right, as well as the City Hotel building, still stand.

Information provided by the Morgan Township Historical Society
The now Plâs Cadnant Bed & Breakfast in Shandon, which opened in 2001 was built by Welsh immigrants who founded Paddy's Run, the first Welsh settlement in the state of Ohio, and still maintains the Welsh heritage of Shandon. In the late 1890s – early 1900s, the building was a home, post office, grocery and dry goods store. Between the years 1931-1939, the building served as the Ross School annex with home economics, industrial arts, business and science classes housed there. Through the years other uses included library, restaurant, Shandon Post Office, multi-family home and antique shop.   

Information provided by the Oxford Visitors Bureau
Originally named the Oxford Theater, the Oxford/Talawanda Theater movie house was built in 1911 with Arts and Crafts style elements. It was called the Talawanda Theater from 1950 until the 19802 when it was substantially enlarged and renamed the Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess closed in March of 2014 due to a fire.

For many years the most prominent feature of the West Park was the bandstand that served the community from 1874 to 1936. Names of local men and women in military service were listed on Honor Boards that stood on the southeast corner of the park during World War II. At different times, veterans were remembered with a flagpole, naval cannon and a small raised plaza. The park was named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1992 and completely redesigned in 2000. The Oxford Memorial Park now has a pavilion and is the location for numerous Oxford events throughout the year, including the annual Oxford Summer Music Festival each Thursday evening in June, July and August.
14 West Park Place is office to the Oxford Visitors Bureau, however, between the 1920s and 60s, a bowling alley and hall for skating and dancing occupied the West Park buildings, giving the location of the Visitors Bureau a unique and fun piece of history.
Information provided by the Reily Township Historical Society
Built around 1858, the now the Indian Creek Tavern, was an old coach stop between Cincinnati and Indiana. The building also has quite an interesting history of being a brothel, restaurant, and hotel and had an attached livery stable.
Also in Reily Township, the now Reily Township Fire Department building stands on the site of the Reily Opera House. On July 17, 1894, the school director deeded a lot in which an old school house stood for the purpose of building a new Township Hall and Opera House, the first play took place on January 17, 1895. These photos depict the cast from Princess Bonnie Operetta c. 1911 as well as a concert poster from 1912.
Information provided by the Smith Library of Regional History
Items from the Smith Library of Regional History were used on the C-SPAN cable television show, First Ladies: Influence and Image. For the episode about Oxford native “Caroline Harrison,” Smith Library provided visual images to depict her Oxford girlhood. Those images included a picture of her as a girl, the house where she was born, the house where she was married, her graduation program, and the Oxford Female Institute where she attended school. Her school building was later enlarged and remodeled and is now the Oxford Community Arts Center.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It’s Gastronomical!

Attention all you pasta lovers and those with a sweet tooth! Just because Valentine’s Day is over doesn’t mean you should forget date night. And, who can resist a cozy Italian restaurant followed by delicious desserts?

Start the night out right, Italian-style at Antonios Ristorante Italiano or Casa Bianca Ristorante. Antonios will have you feeling like you walked in a neighbors home with the comfortable atmosphere. Order a glass of wine and prepare yourself for authentic Italian food that will make your mouth water after just reading the menu. This family owned restaurant is the perfect place to start your night out and cozy up.

Or, another tempting restaurant, Casa Bianca, also provides you the feeling of home at this house turned restaurant. The multiple fireplaces provide the romantic atmosphere and the delicious food will have you coming back. Whether you’re looking for eggplant cannelloni or a prime rib pizza, Casa Bianca’s American/Italian menu is sure to satisfy.

Follow that delicious dinner with an even more delicious dessert.
Cupcakes or ice cream? What’s your preference? Either way you go, your taste buds are going to thank you. Before that delectable dinner, pick up gourmet cupcakes from Jojo’s Cupcakes where 400-800 cupcakes are baked per day, treat yourself to a sweet dessert. Gone are the days of chocolate or vanilla, you can choose from red velvet, salted caramel, funfetti, chocolate banana chips and carrot cake, just to name a few.

If ice cream is your preference, stop at Graeter’s in West Chester where the ice cream is created just two gallons at a time to get that extra creaminess in every scoop. Not only that, but the gallons of ice cream are then hand-swirled by artisans. If that’s not gourmet ice cream, who knows what is! The toughest decision here is going to be which flavor to enjoy, the favored Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip? Buckeye Blitz? Double Chocolate Chip? There’s no way you can go wrong!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Explore the Jungle

You’ve never properly gone grocery shopping until you visit Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield. Walk in the main entrance to be greeted by an animated corn on the cob and stick of butter. From there you’ll see animated characters throughout the store, like Elvis in the candy section or make a trip to Sherwood Forest to see Robin Hood. Jungle Jim’s is pure entertainment from the moment you walk in!

The goal Jungle Jim had in mind when creating the grocery store was that grocery shopping is boring, why not make it more fun? That’s exactly what he did! By incorporating food from around the world, animatronic characters, interesting displays, like the old Coney Island bumper cars being used for candy displays, and more, you don’t even feel like you’re grocery shopping. The restrooms are even award winning with their porta potta exteriors but with regular bathroom facilities with multiple stall interiors.

Not only can you get your grocery shopping done at Jungle Jim’s but you can get all your pets needs taken care of too! Taking about an hour-long tour around the store is a must to get insider information and even get a few samples! Here ten tidbits from Jungle John that you can learn more about on the tour: 
  1. Jungle Jim’s has 6.5 acres of land
  2. There are 13,000 labels of wine sold 
  3. 180,000 unique products are offered
  4. Approximately 100 different types of olives are available 
  5. 33,000 pickles are sold each year
  6. 1,500 different kinds of cheeses are available 
  7. Similarly, there are 1,500 different hot sauces
  8. 2,200 kitchen gadgets are available at the Gourmet Galeria 
  9. 30 different types of apples are available in October
  10. 60-70 different countries are represented with items for sale including Fiji, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and more!
Another great reason to visit Jungle Jim’s is for their festivals, like the Big Cheese Festival on February 7-8. Really, who doesn’t love a festival devoted to all things cheese?

Want to know the top 10 cheese sold? Here you go!
·       Blue Stilton
·       Brie
·       Cheddar
·       Gruyere
·       Jarlsberg
·       Parmesan Reggiano
·       Pecorino Romano
·       Raclette
·       Sartori Merlot Bellavitano
·       Smoked Gouda

Out of these 10, cheddar is always a crowd favorite. You can change it up and do a flavored cheddar like the spicy cheddars, garlic, horseradish, smoked, cranberry, blueberry and pepperoni. There are also aged cheddars as well, ranging anywhere from a six month cheddar to a twelve year cheddar.

Or, if you’re looking for something different, try one of these unique cheeses: Rouge River Blue, a blue made with only the summer milk and wrapped with syrah leaves, teleme cheese-cow's milk, soft creamy cheese, tangy, covered in rice flour. Or beehive cheeses cheddar-like cheeses wrapped in unique flavors like barely buzzed espresso and lavender. You could even go for seahive honey and sea-salt and teahive which is covered in bergamot and tea. 

You can also go in another direction besides cheese with the large selection of charcuterie, or prepared meat. Polish, German, Italian, Spanish and French are just a few of the meat styles carried and there is also unique butter from America and Europe. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get Hit by Cupid’s Arrow!

It’s that romantic time of year where all you can see is red and pink and the roses are plentiful, Valentine’s Day! How are you and your sweetie spending the day devoted to love? What’s more romantic than flowers, candy and cooking together?

With a focus on local growers and using the freshest in-season product, Two Little Buds florist in Hamilton loves what they do and it shows through their designs. With typically over 100 deliveries made for Valentine’s Day you know the bouquets are beautiful. And not only do they specialize in roses for Valentine’s Day, but other top ordered flowers like carnations, orchids and tulips. And, you can’t help but love their mascot!

Or, you can check out West Chester’s Petals & Things florist. Serving the Greater Cincinnati area, Petals & Things is a proudly owned and operated family business. Their specialty, creative and elegant designs, who could ask for more for their sweet’s Valentine’s Day bouquet?

Another perfect Valentine’s Day surprise is a box, or two, of chocolates from Esther Price in West Chester. Straight from Esther Price’s Director of Marketing, Sandy Brielmaier, “Forget red roses, your Valentine wants Esther Price fine chocolates instead!    Although the 1 lb. mixed assorted box is their most popular box on an everyday basis, at Valentine’s Day they sell thousands of Valentine heart boxes packed with all milk, all dark or an assortment of milk and dark premium chocolates. They offer a myriad of Valentine heart sizes and designs; some perfect for kids to give their teachers, red velvet or pink satin ones for female Valentines, and still others specifically designed for the male recipient. Looking for solid chocolate foiled hearts – they have them too, as well as Valentine cards and other hand-packed gift items. Know exactly what types of chocolate your Valentine likes? Why not get her (or him) a custom packed box with just exactly the chocolate pieces your Valentine likes? They can hand pack a box or a Valentine heart to make the perfect gift!

Esther Price is a premium chocolate manufacturer, distributor and retailer. They make all of their chocolates at their Dayton, Ohio facility producing over one-half million boxes of candy per year. They have seven retail stores, three in Cincinnati and four in Dayton. Esther Price fine chocolates are also sold in a number of Dayton and Cincinnati area grocery stores and can be purchased on-line at or by calling 855-3-ESTHER. Visit Esther Price’s newest retail store located at 8621 North Pavillion Blvd. near the intersection of Union Centre Blvd and 747 (513-860-0907).”

Finally, cooking together, what a cozy idea for a little Valentine’s Day celebration! At The Spicy Olive in West Chester you can find "heart healthy" gifts for Valentine's Day and combo packs with recipes and Valentine themes like “I'm hot for you" with spicy oils or "you are my Honey" with Honey Ginger balsamic vinegar. Getting these gifts is the perfect start for your at home Valentine’s Day.

And, if you prefer to cook outside of your kitchen, join the Valentine themed cooking class at the West Chester store on February 5 with Chef Alfio Gulisano at 6:30 p.m. Or come in to sample products. It’s a great date night to taste and make different combinations until you find your favorites to purchase. You can also check out Uncorked while visiting. Couples can also do wine tastings on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in addition to balsamic vinegar and olive oil tastings! It is a great date night destination!

There are also several restaurants where you can enjoy your Valentine's Day weekend:

The Brandywine Inn (Monroe) – Reservations required for their Valentine’s Day Menu with seating times at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14. Please call 513-779-4747 or 513-539-8911 for reservations or more information.

Hueston Woods Lodge (Oxford) – Reservations are recommended for the Menu San Valentino on Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Please call the Trailblazer Dining Room at 513-664-3527 to make your reservations.

Jag’s Steak & Seafood (West Chester) – Enjoy a twist on a traditional Valentine’s Day with the Valentine’s Murder Mystery Dinner. Reservations required for the event on Thursday, February 12, at 6:30 p.m. by calling Natalie Holbert at 513-860-5353, Ext. 23.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How much do you know?

Are you a Butler County pro? Do you know where to find all of the Butler County attractions, restaurants, historical sites and venues? We’ve compiled just a few of what you can find in Butler County, use the pictures and hints to guess what each place is and where in Butler County to find it. Good luck!

1.     This spot is not only full of trees, but has a museum on the grounds focusing on all things ancient.

2.     Cozy up at this place on a comfy couch and enjoy an espresso, a tasty lunch and a good read.

3.    Yee-haw! Ladies can find all of their fashion with a Western flair at this charming boutique.

4.    This home was converted into a modern restaurant featuring Japanese cuisine.

5.     Think about warmth for this summer attraction, where the waves can be high but the jumps can be brutal.

6.    Taking you back in time, this house, part of the Amish/Mennonite settlement in Butler County, was home to the Augspurger family.

7.     Another site to dust off the history books, this historical pioneer village was the birthplace of Ohio’s nineteenth governor.