Ever wanted to see the inside of the Anderson Schoolhouse? How about the Vermillion Institute in Hayesville? Or the obscure Dal-E-Nal Classics and Museum in West Salem?
Across the state, historic buildings are opening their doors to the public — including seven sites in Ashland County — for the Ohio Open Doors event, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sept. 16.
The event gives community members a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at many rarely seen sites, said Amy Daubenspeck, executive director of the Ashland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Ashland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau met with the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum and the Ashland County Historical Society to choose the potential locations.
"We just kind of went through a list of different venues that we thought would work in our area, and then each one of us contacted those locations," Daubenspeck said. "The seven we ended up with were the ones that were willing to be open on different days throughout that 10-day time."
All Ohio Open Doors events are free. Most are special one-day-only opportunities.
On Friday, the public can head to Loudonville from 1-4 p.m. to enjoy a tour of the historic 1909 Loudonville Town Hall and Opera House, now known as the Ohio Theatre and Mayor's Court in City Hall.
"The theater was originally built in 1909 as the municipal building and opera house — and it still houses both," said Kenny Libben, curator of the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum. "The opera house gained the moniker ’Ohio Theatre’ in the 1920s when it was leased out to an independent operator, but the building still houses the village offices, council chambers, police station and, of course, the newly renovated theater and opera house. The building once also housed the Loudonville Fire Department and the Loudonville Public Library. In addition to seeing the theater, which is still operating, guests will be allowed to tour backstage and up to the council chambers and mayors court."
Also on Saturday, a tour of the Pleasant Hill Dam will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This behind-the-scenes tour includes the intake tower for the Pleasant Hill Dam in Perrysville. The earthen dam is 113 feet tall and was completed in 1936.
"Though many people have visited the dam before, very few have ever been allowed inside the intake tower," Libben said. "So we’re grateful for the Army Corps agreeing to open up their doors to us."
However, for security purposes, no photography is allowed inside the tower.
Perhaps the most unusual spot on the list is Duane Hastings’ Dal-E-Nal Classics and Museum in Red Haw. This trip down memory lane is also open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.
"I think (Hastings) just lets people in when he knows they're coming," Daubenspeck said. "He doesn't really advertise it at all. So we thought maybe that would be a really cool place for people to go visit, because most people probably don't even know it's there. "
Here you will see fun memorabilia from the 1940s, ‘50s and '60s eras, when Hastings grew up. Fully restored Farmall and John Deere Tractors, R-190 International Truck, advertising signs, lighted gas pump, Pepsi pop machine, refrigerator, milker pump, pedal tractors, toy tractors, advertising signs, beer signs and more are on display.
The museum was originally built in 1999.
"What I believe to be unique about it is, is that when Duane started collecting items from the 1940s and '50s, he all of a sudden realized that the collection had grown into enough memorabilia to form a museum and that people had interest in seeing it," said Chris Box, director of operations at the Ashland County Historical Society. "He loves sharing it with the many visitors that have walked through the doors. Named after his two boys, Dale and Lane (with Lane’s name spelled backwards), Duane originally had the museum open on the weekends, but now opens it for special occasions, or when family and friends stop in for a visit."
On Sept. 15 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., you can get a feel for early Ohio life at the historic Workman Cabin in Loudonville’s Central Park.
"The cabin was built by Morgan Workman in 1838 and served as his home and a church for his Dunkard congregation," Libben said. "Originally built a few miles east of town, it was moved to Central Park in 1963 to temporarily serve as the headquarters of the town’s sesquicentennial the following year. The cabin became so popular though that it ended up becoming a permanent fixture."
The Anderson Schoolhouse in Ashland also will open its doors on Sept. 15, from 2-4 p.m. The property is privately owned by Anderson Schoolhouse LLC and operated by Carla Abreu-Elli and J.B. Ellis.
"They do programming for school children on what it was like to be in school in a different time," Daubenspeck said. "It's really cool what they've done to that place."
The Vermillion Institute in Hayesville will host its open house on Sept. 16 from 1-4 p.m., with a reception and tours of all five levels, from the chapel to the tower.
You can also tour the Hayesville Opera House that day from 1-4 p.m. This historic landmark remains as one of the few examples of an American theater built in 1886.
The Ohio History Connection created Ohio Open Doors in 2016 to promote and inspire pride in the state's heritage and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Oct. 15, 1966, this Act has proven instrumental in transforming the face of communities across the country, establishing the legal framework and incentives to preserve historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites.
"What’s most important about this 10-day event is that for a concentrated period of time, it brings statewide attention to local history, allowing folks to plan 'one tank trips' to places seldom seen," Box said. "The Ohio History Connection — formerly known as the Ohio Historical Society — has reached out to every county in the state, challenging their leaders to bring awareness to the gems that help to make each part of Ohio special."
For more information about Ohio Open Doors, visit ohiohistory.org, visitashlandohio.com, or call (419) 281-4854 or (419) 994-4050. You can also find these events on Facebook at business.facebook.com/AshlandCVB/.