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Be Your Own Baron at Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio

It’s Always Ohio is movin’ on up! A special thanks goes out Wendy Koile, our first ever guest blogger. Below you’ll find an detailed account of Wendy getting medieval in Ohio…or wait, wrong time period.  Getting baronial?  Anyway, below you’ll find Wendy’s awesome blog post about Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Enjoy!

A few miles southeast of the hustle and bustle of inner-city Cleveland, stands an unexpected, yet charming structure.  Quietly tucked just within the tree line of the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, the shell of an impressive castle peers out under the thick leaves of the woodland, leaving many visitors enchanted by its existence.  However, as park goers stroll through the vacant rooms, they not only are draw to the physical beauty of the edifice, but also to the lingering sensation of a forgotten possibility tinged with just a hint of sadness.  In fact, Squires Castle does indeed represent both a loved and hated, century old dream. 

In the 1890’s, British born- turned Cleveland business oil tycoon, Fergus B. Squire initiated construction on his newly purchased 525 acres of woodsy land near present day Willoughby Hills. Although he owned a mansion on Euclid Ave, often referred to as Millionaire’s Row, Squire yearned for the English countryside where he had spent his childhood.  Now a husband and father of two, he wished for his family to experience the delights of living close to nature. 

Squire’s dream was to build a manor house, or small castle, for his family to use a retreat from city-life. By 1897, the still existing building was completed and was originally to act as the gatehouse and caretakers’ home.  According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History the estate was enhanced by adding “groves of trees, ponds, bridges, and a gravel roadway.”  It was near this time, however, that the construction came to an abrupt halt. 

Recorded account suggests that Squire encountered problems finding material and competent laborers to complete the main house. Yet most believed the glitch in the plan was that young Mrs. Squire did not take to the residence. She had always been a city girl at heart, and the sound of creatures rustling through the backyard was not her idea of a relaxing retreat.  And to top it off, Fergus loved hunting and proudly displayed throughout the house the heads of many beasts.

Sadly, Squire visited the estate only a few more times as a camping retreat with his daughter.  In 1908, he sold the property to developers and built a mansion in nearby Willowick.  1925, the Cleveland Park Board took possession of the land and building, filling the basement and removing the second floor.  As the small castle sat vacant, vandals looted the building of its lead glass windows, decorative adornments, and any other traces of the original owner. 

To add insult to injury, creepy ghost stories and urban legends sometimes overshadowed the factual history of Squire’s Castle.  The tales usually centered around the death of Mrs. Squire and her supposed tragic fall down castle steps.  Due to her untimely death, she allegedly still haunts the family’s retreat home to this day.  Disappointedly to local ghost hunters, record indicate that Mrs. Squire died a natural death in a Cleveland hospital.  

Ghost hunting or not, today guests are free to walk through the castle and hike the woods stretching out far behind.  Simple blueprints of the original estate design are displayed throughout the building detailing each room and its function.  The arched doorways and glassless windows allow the wind to quietly sweep through while carrying the long-forgotten vision of a dreamlike castle along with it. 

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The Holy Grail of Theatre: Sandusky Hosts Broadway Production, Spamalot

Full disclosure, musicals and theatre are not our forte. Did you notice how we spelled “theatre?” We heard that’s the proper way to do it.  All of that being said, some productions get us dancing and we love us some Spamalot. Adapted from the hysterical 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this parody of the Arthurian legend has left many a crowd in stitches. Lucky for the folks in and around Sandusky, they now have the chance to join the aforementioned galley of laughter.

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Credit: Sandusky State Theatre

If you’ve been following along with It’s Always Ohio, you’ll know that we’re quite fond of Sandusky, Ohio and it seems like the revival of this old town continues to flourish. A Broadway musical? That’s big. For those who haven’t seen this original film this musical is based off of, well, I blow my nose at you! Trust us, you’ll get it later. But seriously, it’s one hilarious movie and the Broadway musical version is just as funny.

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Sandusky State Theatre Facebook

Aside from the actual show, the Sandusky State Theatre is something to behold in its own right.  A striking and beautiful historic landmark, the State, as locals refer to it, has been around since 1928 and is currently on track to be completely renovated for it’s 100th anniversary in 2028.

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Sandusky State Theatre Facebook

If it was us, we’d go ahead a book tickets for the show on Wednesday, Nov. 21st, so that we could hit up Volstead Bar for a proper old fashioned before the show. Just a suggestion. From there you could visit a number of fantastic restaurants around the area for post-show supper. Shore House Tavern, OH Taco and Crush Wine Bar are a few of our favorites.  Make a little night of it! All jokes aside, this is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss. Snag up some tickets before they’re gone, we heard they’re going fast. See you in Sandusky!

21687456_1675296602503298_8996168711295964590_nTickets range from $35-$68 and are available for purchase through the Sandusky State Theatre website here. Spamalot is presented by the Firelands Regional Medical Center.

Trade Plants, Meet Friends, Have Fun at the Barnes Nursery Houseplant Swap

A Peace Lily for a fern. How about a spider plant for a Zanzibar Gem? Or maybe you’re the Devil’s Ivy type? Whichever way you roll, chances are someone this weekend at the Barnes Nursery Houseplant Swap will show up with something green that you’ve just got to get your hands on. Us? We’re more of the succulent type.

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Now if you’ve never traveled to a plant swap before, you need to. So you’ll be a little green, no big deal. See what we did there? (Insert Laugh Here). Those boring old plants you’ve been staring at for the last two years might just spruce someone else’s house right up and vice versa. You’ve been warned however, it’s very easy to walk out of these things with a truck load of foliage.  Next thing you know your front room will be looking like a scene from Jurassic Park…although we’re not sure that’s a bad thing.  As long as it’s from the original, JP1, those new ones are ridiculous.

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Barnes Nursery, the folks behind this particular houseplant swap, have a pretty sweet setup as well. Located on 3511 West Cleveland Rd. on the outskirts of Huron, Ohio, their Huron Garden Center is stocked up with tons of greenery and super cool Fall goods. If you’ve got time, be sure to take a stroll through Sheldon’s Marsh Nature Preserve on the way out — An ideal spot for a crisp, autumn walk that’ll eventually lead you to the idyllic shores of Lake Erie.

Back to the swap. This Saturday, October 27th from 12pm – 4pm, the Barnes Nursery Houseplant Swap has zero entry free, but asks you to show up with at least one or several pest-free rooted indoor houseplants, either potted or bare root. You’ll also be rewarded with tasty vittles in the form of brick oven pizza, wine and craft beer. Sounds good to us, let’s have a plant party! RSVP details below — Head on down a bit.

Barnes

To RSVP to the swap, visit the Barnes Facebook pageBarnes Nursery’s website or call (419)-433-5525. Catch ya there fellow green thumbs.

Put-in-Bay’s First Music Festival Looks Awesome and You Should Go

Once in a while you’ll find two things that go together to form a perfect, harmonious balance otherwise unseen in ordinary combinations.  Ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Jordan and Pippen…we all know the classics.  One such marriage, one we consider to be among the classics, is Put-in-Bay, Ohio and music.  The two have always worked together, delighting locals and visitors alike with tunes from fantastic bands hailing from all across the country.  This is why when we found out that the already live music-laden island will be putting on the inaugural Put-in-Bay Music Festival, we were stoked.

Some of the best parts about the festival?  Just a $7 ticket on the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay gets you in and once you’re in, the fest takes place in front of one of the most picturesque backdrops on all of South Bass Island — Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.

In true Perry’s Victory style, the Put-in-Bay Music Festival is all about two other things that go very well together, peace and music.

Seven stellar bands will perform including the Flyin’ Jays, Emily Keener from The Voice, MC Bob Gatewood, JP and the Chatfield Boys, Mo ‘Mojo, Strung Like a Horse and the Floorwalkers. Legendary performer Pat Dailey just recently agreed to perform his new song during the day-long festival.

The music line up is tentatively set (times are approximate and subject to change):

11:15am – Flyin’ Jays

12:15pm – Emily Keener

1:15pm – Bob Gatewood

2:00pm – JP and the Chatfield Boys

3:15pm – Mo ‘Mojo

4:15pm – Pat Dailey

5:00pm – Strung Like a Horse

6:45pm – Floorwalkers

Free music workshops will be given during the day. Mo ‘Mojo will give a workshop on zydeco dance, and a second on drumming. Islander Dick McCarthy will also give two workshops on playing the ukulele, one for beginners and a second for those with some experience. There will also be a “Guitar Hero” competition in the workshop tent.  There will also be two cornhole tournaments, so bring your “A” game.

To plan your island visit to the June 10 Put-in-Bay Music Festival check out the following websites; pibmusicfest.com, millerferry.com, & visitputinbay.com.

Want more music? Toby Keith is performing at Put-in-Bay on Thursday, August 31.  Thats right, Toby Keith. Well played PIB, well played.  More details soon…

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Beer Class is the Best Class – Beer Exploration Society at Ohio Beer Garden

Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz afterwards.  However, we do have two questions for you.  Do you like beer and do you like learning about beer?  If you’ve answered yes to both of those, then Ohio Beer Garden’s Beer Exploration Society is for you.

Speaking of beer, it’s no mystery that we at It’s Always Ohio like beer…and in fact, we like learning about beer.  The Rail and Ohio Beer Garden have this sweet little class dubbed the “Beer Exploration Society,” which is exactly as it sounds.  Top breweries from around Ohio come in, produce an awesome lineup of new beers, pour them for everyone and then chat about what makes them so tasty.

The Rail Facebook

One session has us particularly fired up this month and that’s because one of our favorites, Market Garden Brewery, is rolling in to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th with a ton of awesome brews.  They’ll be featuring Hellamango IPA, Prosperity Wheat, Citramax IPA and Progress Pilsner.

Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

We’re not sure about you, but we’re getting a little thirsty just looking at those bottles.  If you’ve never been to a Beer Class yet, the cost is a meager $12/person and with that you get plenty of beer tasters and appetizers to go along.  The easiest way to book a seat is by calling (440) – 979 – 1001.

If you can’t make it to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th for Market Garden, there are three others you can meander to:

  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Strongsville – Jackie O’s Brewery
    • Thursday, April, 20th @ 6:00 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Canton – Columbus Brewing Co.
    • Thursday, April 27th @ 6:00 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Fairlawn – Four String Brewing Co.
    • Thursday,  April 27th @ 7:00 pm
Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

For more information you can visit www.therailburger.com or www.ohiobeergarden.com.  You can follow along on Twitter @TheRailBurger & @ohiobeergarden.  Side note: Looking for a ridiculously tasty Certified Angus all-Ohio steak? Check out City Square Steakhouse, their sister restaurant in Wooster, Ohio.

Cheers!

Sing and Dance Your Way Through Summer with Wooster’s Ohio Light Opera

We’ve been on and on in previous posts about how awesome the town of Wooster, Ohio is — It has a European feel, relaxed vibe, phenomenal food, a great brewery, tons of wineries, fun outdoor space…truth be told, this list could go on forever.  It’s really that cool.  As evidenced by another piece we put together called “Wooster is the Coolest (And Tastiest) Town in Ohio You Haven’t Been To.”

Credit: Main Street Wooster Facebook

Okay okay, enough of how cool Wooster is, seriously though, it’s cool.  This post is all about another hidden gem that lays within this little town.  We’re talking about the Ohio Light Opera.

Credit: Ohio Light Opera Facebook

Located in the College of Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre and dubbed as America’s Premier Lyric Theater Festival, Ohio Light Opera’s season usually runs from around mid-June to mid-August, with this summer being no different.  The 2017 season fires up on June 17th with The Music Man and ends on August 12th.  Their knack for nabbing terrific actors and putting together terrific casts is evident, regardless of which show you end up seeing.  We had the pleasure of seeing a production of “Oh Kay!” back in 2015 and suffice to say, was more than okay.  Alright, that’s an awful pun, but it had to be done.

Ultimately though, you don’t have to be an avid fan of lyric theater to enjoy a production at the Ohio Light Opera and whether you’re part of a large family or not, it makes for something altogether different and fun.  That and you can cruise around in the town of Wooster afterwards, which I believe we’ve already mentioned, is quite awesome.

Quick foodie tip: Since our last Wooster post, two of our favorite restaurants have snagged some new digs in town and are definitely with the stop.  Muddy’s Cafe moved into an old Cadillac dealership on E. Liberty and now features a ton of live music on top of their already great food.  Spoon Market & Cafe now sits at 144 W. Liberty St. and has a brilliant amount of usable space which of course, they use undeniably well.

This upcoming 2017 season offers a really fun selection of classical favorites, newer/popular shows and a few rarer productions.  Below is an abridged list —  For full details you can visit www.ohiolightopera.org and www.mainstreetwooster.com.  You can also order tickets by calling (330)-263-2345.

The Music Man

(1957)

That a homespun show about the shenanigans of a music peddler in a small Midwest city beat out West Side Story for the 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical speaks volumes. Meredith Willson drew on memories of his childhood days in Iowa and fashioned the music, lyrics, and book for a seemingly timeless story that continues to capture the hearts of young and old.

Anything Goes 

(1934)

While at a New York bar, evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney has fallen for Billy Crocker, who, to be near his girlfriend Hope Harcourt, has stowed away on Reno’s transatlantic cruise ship. Forced to adopt various disguises to avoid detection, Billy eventually secures a ticket and passport from Reverend Moon, who has been branded Public Enemy No. 13. Not surprisingly … confusion ensues.

HMS Pinafore 

or The Lass That Loved a Sailor
(1878)

Gilbert and Sullivan’s rollicking romp through naval life, class distinctions, and melodramatic villainy has entertained millions since its London premiere. Where else can one find a First Lord of the Admiralty who had never seen a ship, or a seafaring captain who gets seasick, or a nursemaid who can’t tell one baby from another?  Josephine, the Captain’s daughter, is in love with able seaman Ralph Rackstraw. But her father has other plans for her: an advantageous union with the exalted Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. When the young couple’s elopement is thwarted by cantankerous seaman Dick Deadeye, it remains for Little Buttercup to confess that her baby farming techniques had left something to be desired … a many years ago.

Primrose

(1924)
If ever there were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this is it – the first fully-staged production in almost a century of George Gershwin’s 1924 musical Primrose. Written for the London stage (255 performances), but never brought to Broadway, the show reveals the composer fully crossing the threshold into the jazz-inspired stylings that would take Broadway by storm just a few months later in Lady, Be Good! The show centers on dapper Toby Mopham, who finds himself engaged to vulgar beautician Pinkie Peach. To help him out of the situation, he calls on his friend, houseboat-dwelling author Hilary Vane, who himself has fallen in love with ingenue Joan, who reminds him of the character Primrose in his latest story. After many (and we do mean many) complications, characters, and disguises, everyone winds up with his or her ideal mate.

The Student Prince 

(1924)

The Student Prince, the longest-running Broadway musical of the 1920s, is for many theater-goers the quintessential romantic operetta. Hungarian-born composer Sigmund Romberg cashed in on his earlier musical training in Vienna and created a magical score of waltzes and marches, all set to Dorothy Donnelly’s adaptation of a 1901 German play titled Old Heidelberg. Prince Karl-Franz, accompanied by his tutor Dr. Engel and pompous valet Lutz, arrives at Heidelberg University, but finds his studies less enticing than the waitress Kathie at the local inn. The age-old clash between love and duty rears its head when he is summoned back home to the deathbed of his grandfather and ordered to marry Princess Margaret.

Countess Maritza 

(1924)

Count Tassilo, now penniless, has taken a menial position as manager of one of the estates of the wealthy Maritza. He hopes to earn enough money to pay off his debts and provide a dowry for his sister Lisa. To ward off a constant barrage of suitors, Maritza announces a mock engagement to a fictitious pig farmer, a Baron Koloman Zsupan. To her surprise, a real Baron Zsupan shows up and claims her hand. Tassilo, also, has some covering up to do when Lisa appears as part of Maritza’s house party. As romantic feelings blossom between Tassilo and Maritza, so do their pride and stubbornness as employer and employee – Maritza has no choice but to fire her manager. But … she has a change of heart.

The Lady of the Slipper 

or A Modern Cinderella
(1912)

With stepsisters named Dollbabia and Freakette, a cat named Mouser, and two fellows named Punks and Spooks who emerge from a cornfield (a la Wizard of Oz) to entice Cinderella to the ball and then into the prince’s arms, “zany” is indeed the right term for a show that captured the public’s fancy and became the second-longest-running book musical of 1912.

Winter’s Still Here: Snow Trails Opens for Bonus Weekend

For those of us who like to slide around in the snow with things on our feet, here’s some great news — Snow Trails is open for a bonus weekend!  Partly because of a little late season winter push and mostly because of Snow Trails uncanny ability to make snow at the drop of a hat, what’s been a pretty mild winter has suddenly turned into an actual winter.

 

All of the snowmaking combined with a little natural powder from Winter Storm Stella has come together nicely and brought winter right back to where it should be, providing perfectly groomed slopes comprised of super shreddable packed powder.

Snow Trails opened today at 10:00 am and will continue to stay open through Sunday for your enjoyment. Temperatures this week are ideal for continued skiing and riding, forecasted to stay cold during the week and warm up just a bit for the weekend.

As an added bonus, Snow Trail is offering up a huge 50% discount at the Ticket Window for Lift Tickets, Equipment Rentals and Tubing Tickets.

Go carve it up, we’ll see you down there! Visit www.snowtrails.com for more details.

General Patton’s Historic Personal Yacht Coming to Put-in-Bay, Ohio July 4th Weekend

 

Those looking for a once in a lifetime ride aboard an iconic  vessel need look no further than Lake Erie.  This Fourth of July weekend the stunning schooner When and If, General Patton’s personal yacht, will tie up at Put-in-Bay where it will be available for day sails Friday, July 1 – Monday, July 4.

When and If @ Sunset

 

The When and If will dock at the C-Dock outer wall in Put-in-Bay harbor and hold approximately 4 sails per day, ending with a fireworks sail the night of the island’s spectacular pyrotechnics display.

At 63 feet and 5 inches in length, the John Alden designed schooner was built in 1939 for then Colonel General George S. Patton and his wife, Bea.  With another world war looming on the horizon, Patton’s plan was to sail the schooner should he survive his service abroad, then stating “When the war is over, and if I live through it, Bea and I are going to sail her around the world.”

When and If on a Clear Day

Long after the General’s untimely death in 1945, the When and If sailed on and was maintained in impeccable condition, remaining in the Patton family until 1972 until it was gifted to the Landmark school in Massachusetts where she was the centerpiece of a sail training program for dyslexic children.

Crew WorkingAfter a bad storm drove her onto the rocks causing severe damage, albeit not structural, the When and If passed back into private ownership and was painstakingly rebuilt — However it wasn’t until 17 years later in 2012 when the schooner was fully returned to all her glory.

Day Sails will last approximately 90 minutes and cost $65/person, apart from the Fireworks Sail on July, 4th which will cost $150/person.

The historic schooner yacht When and If will arrive at Put-in-Bay on Friday, July 1, 2016.  For additional information When and If Aerialplease visit the event’s FaceBook page or purchase tickets through TicketFly.

For the quickest and most affordable transportation to the islands visit www.millerferry.com.

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