Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Marietta College’

Anderson Hancock Planetarium Explores the Expanding Universe

Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College

Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are!”

Everyone gains a better understanding about those little stars in the sky after watching the night sky from the comfort of a cozy seat at Anderson Hancock Planetarium on the campus of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.  As the present night sky appears overhead, the movement and stories of the constellations provide a fascinating time of entertainment and increased knowledge of our expanding Universe.

Named after Emeritus Professors Dr. Les Anderson ’55 and Dr. Whit Hancock, the planetarium is equipped with a hybrid projection system that combines an optical mechanical star projector with a powerful full dome digital video projector.

Gog Chronos star projector

Goto Chronos hybrid star projector

Marietta College is currently one of a handful of planetariums in the country to feature the Goto Chronos hybrid system, which can replicate with great accuracy the night sky from thousands of years in the past to thousands of years in the future from countless vantage points in the Universe. This projects the night sky onto the dome, which is about 40′ in diameter.

Every month, the planetarium hosts a special sky program with two showings on a Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. Recent topics have explored “Cosmic Castaways”, “Chasing Ghost Particles” and most recently the premiere of “Space Aliens: Looking for Life in the Universe”.

During a visit to see “Space Aliens”, experts Hopeful and Skeptical took those in attendance on a journey from the ocean floor to an adventure across the galaxy as they tried to convince each other whether life exists outside of earth. No definite conclusion was reached except that we keep discovering more and more about our vast Universe all the time.

Dr. Ann Bragg, director

Dr. Ann Bragg, planetarium director

The planetarium director, Dr. Ann Bragg, has been with the program since it opened in the spring of 2009. Since her goal is to educate the community as well as the students, she projects a contagious enthusiasm, which hooks the viewers.

Dr. Bragg, also associate professor of physics, enjoys teaching and opening students’ minds to new possibilities. She feels, “The process of discovery is often more interesting than what is actually discovered.”

Star talks about the current evening sky always precede the special program. Here they tell about and display the different constellations that are visible in the sky. This provides a tremendous opportunity for adults and children to learn more about our vast Universe. During the year, nearly 4000 students visit the planetarium with school, scout and camp groups.

The lobby also features quiet study areas and current science programming from NASA’s ViewSpace data/video feed. It’s a great place to catch up on some of the latest NASA developments.

Planetarium Auditorium

Planetarium Auditorium with 40′ dome ceiling

During the summer months at least two of their showings will be geared toward students. While all shows are free, the planetarium requires reservations as seating is limited in their 102 seat auditorium. Perhaps you would like to visit the Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College and witness several of their outstanding presentations in the future.

Sometimes your road trip needs to leave earth and explore what is beyond.

Be sure to check out their website at http://www.mariette.edu/planetarium for future programs. To visit Anderson Hancock Planetarium, take Interstate 77 toward Marietta to Exit 1. At Exit 1, turn right onto ramp, which will be Ohio 7 (Pike Street). Remain on Pike Street until turning right onto Fourth Street. Take the first right onto Butler Street. Parking will be immediately on your right in the lot adjacent to Hermann Fine Arts Center.

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Tour Daweswood House Museum “Let the Flowers Grow Where They May”

Daweswood House Museum

Daweswood House Museum

Exploring Daweswood takes visitors back in time to absorb the lifestyle of the Dawes family in the early 1900’s near Newark, Ohio. Being greeted by Debby, the youngest granddaughter of Beman and Bertie Dawes, made the tour doubly enjoyable. Her added stories of childhood visits added life to the beautiful old home.

Outside, the playful, lighthearted garden design reflects Bertie’s favorite saying, “Let the flowers grow where they may”. Beautiful flower beds surround the home turned museum, and help visitors realize the importance of plants and flowers to the Dawes family.

Inside, Daweswood House Museum, actually built in 1867,  is filled with antiques, unique collections of natural history, and stories which seem to pour from the walls. The flooring and spiral walnut staircase in the entryway are original and from lumber cut on the farm back in the late 1800’s. Everything was built with loving care in the best tradition of the times.

Office of Beman Dawes

Office of Beman Dawes

Born in Marietta, Ohio, Beman Dawes graduated from Marietta College. After serving two terms as US Representative, he founded Pure Oil Co with headquarters in nearby Columbus, Ohio. The profits from that endeavor became the source of funds to develop Dawes Arboretum for the enjoyment of  people from all over the world, as well as the Dawes family. Debby mentioned that some of her fondest memories of childhood were the family picnics in the pines at Dawes. It seemed the children enjoyed the out-of-doors, just like their grandparents. Today the family still gathers at Dawes Arboretum every summer for an old-fashioned picnic.

Bertie Dawes' studio

Bertie Dawes’ studio

His wife, Bertie, displayed her collections in her special studio, which overlooked the garden. Shells, butterflies, and humming birds all held special places in her heart. The beautiful bedspread in the room had been handmade by Bertie as well. This elegant lady was definitely a woman of many talents and interests… including raising peacocks. Perhaps she had time to do these things since there were housekeepers that tended to the daily chores of the family. Since there were five children, this would have been a busy household.

"Our House" embroidered by daughter, Dorothy Dawes Young in 1925.

“Our House” embroidered by daughter, Dorothy Dawes Young in 1925.

One beautiful family tradition occurred in the formal dining room where the family met each Sunday for dinner. The grandchildren still recall those formal dinners with Grandfather and Granny as being a highlight of their visit.  This family had early access to some of the little luxuries, with electricity in Daweswood as early as 1929. Five stone fireplaces throughout the house provided a warm atmosphere. The warmth of family could be seen in the beautiful embroidered picture hanging in the kitchen to remind everyone of the importance of their Daweswood home.

A basement constructed of handhewn stone, where the children used to play, is now home to the Rathskeller. The walls are now filled with shovels and plaques of those invited for tree dedication ceremonies. Initials of the dedicators were placed on the ceiling with soot from a burning candle in the beginning, but today they are usually written with a marking pen…to save space.  Back in 1927, Ohio Governor James Cox was the first to dedicate a tree.  Over 100 people have been invited by the family to dedicate trees and some of those names are quite familiar: John Glenn, Jack Hanna, Richard Byrd, Red Grange, and Orville Wright to mention a few.

Smokehouse and Gardens

Smokehouse and Gardens

Behind the house is an old log smokehouse surrounded by Bertie’s garden. Nearby, on the right side of the picture, you can see the corner of the roof of the History Archives Building, which is being constructed to hold photographs, family journals, and Arboretum records.

Plan your visit to Daweswood on the weekend as hours are limited. Tours are given every Saturday and Sunday at 12:00 and 2:00.  Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students, and tickets must be purchased at theVisitors Center. If you like beautiful old homes and the beauties of nature, you will definitely enjoy a visit at Daweswood.

Dawes Arboretum is located near Newark, Ohio just off I-70.  Take Exit 132 , Route 13 , and proceed North on Route 13 for about three miles.  The entrance is located on the left hand side of the road at 7770 Jacksontown Road. Daweswood House Museum is down the first road to the right just inside the gate, but first you must go to the Visitors Center to purchase your ticket.

York, Slave of William Clark, Once Felt Freedom

Tracker… Negotiator…Ambassador…Doctor.  All these words were used at one time or another to describe York, Captain William Clark’s black manservant, who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back to the East. York’s story was told under the red and white striped tent at the 2012 Chautauqua celebration in Marietta, Ohio on the campus of Marietta College. This year’s theme, “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”, introduced characters that played a role in Ohio’s early history. York, being from Virginia, spent much time on and along the Ohio River.

As the first recorded black explorer, York created much excitement as he traveled across the Western frontier.  Due to his large size and black skin, his presence amazed and intrigued the Indians along the way. Thinking perhaps that he was painted black, at many stops the Indians would spit on their fingers and try to rub the black color from his skin. Indian tribes considered him a friend and referred to him as Big Medicine, since he frequently gave them liniments and herbs to heal their ailments. Some even called him Giant Medicine due to his size, and felt that his skin had sacred power.  This was a time in York’s life when he said, “How great it felt to be admired.  I felt ten feet tall.”

Because he enjoyed storytelling and drinking, York was very popular in taverns wherever he went. His speech was much like “the white man’s” since he had grown up in his master’s household. Never having been taught to read or write, he relied on his tall tales, some higher than the mountains, to entertain the explorers and those he met along the way. The Indian squaws favored him with special treatment, and he entertained the children with stories of being wild. His contribution as a peace maker with the Indians helped make the expedition more successful.

Life was not easy on the journey as they were often cold and hungry. They drank bear fat and even ate candles to survive. At times when food was scare, York was entrusted with a musket, something that never would have been permitted this slave while in Virginia. There were times when they were fortunate to encounter a herd of elk.  Then they ate elk, elk, and more elk all day long. If no other meat was available, they even ate their dogs and found them quite tasty. The children in the tent at Marietta that evening were quite concerned about the expedition eating dogs, and were assured it was only done during an emergency when no other food was available.

When they returned to the East, York reverted to his position as a manservant. He only wanted freedom to be with his wife but this was not to be. Instead he was flogged, even jailed and then hired out to a severe master where he was given spoiled food and further mistreated.

Even though York was married, he seldom saw his wife as she too was a slave. They lost contact completely when she was sent to Mississippi to work on a plantation. So even though he knew she was expecting their child, he never got to see the child or even know of its whereabouts. When he asked Captain Clark if he could be sold as a slave with his wife, Clark said it was out of the question. York said the most painful time he encountered in his life was saying goodbye to his wife.

What really happened to York? Some accounts say that he was eventually freed, but given the fact that he had no knowledge of business was not able to make his way in the world.  Other accounts say he was spotted later with the Crow Indians in the Rocky Mountains. Hope it was the later!

As York sat at the tavern on the Chautauqua stage, he said he was thankful for the Expedition as for a short time he knew what freedom felt like. There his color was not a curse but a blessing. His dream was to eventually go back to the Indians.  His presentation concluded with a toast to the Great Expedition, the beauty and majesty of our great nation, Captain Clark, the Indians, and Big Medicine.

Marvin Jefferson did a very believable portrayal of York. His background as an educator and historical scholar has given him incite into Civil Rights issues and he frequently portrays Martin Luther King, Jr and Paul Robeson in his stage performances.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Urbana (June 26-30), Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28).  Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

Margaret Blennerhassett Prosperity to Poverty

More is better! That was the feeling of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett as they came to the United States from England in 1797. Their marriage was frowned upon by friends and family in England since Harman was Margaret’s uncle; therefore, their best chance at a happy life together would have to be in a far away country.  Having sold his castle in England, the Blennerhassetts arrived in the United States with lots and lots of money…$140,000! While this fortune seemed limitless at that time, the Blennerhassetts spent their fortune recklessly and unwisely, always wanting more.

The aristocratic Margaret Blennerhassett was the first historic character for  “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”, the theme for  2012 Ohio Chautauqua in Marietta, Ohio on the campus of Marietta College.  She received a warm welcome as temperatures soared to near 100 in the red and white striped tent.

Margaret’s story continued with their search for a place to built their new home, and ultimate discovery of  a beautiful tree covered island in the middle of the Ohio River. Margaret thought this would be the perfect place for the elegant home she had in mind so they bought half of the island, approximately 180 acres, for $4500.

One corner of the island was cleared of the huge trees so the mansion would appear as a pearl against green velvet as the boats passed by on the Ohio River. Here they built a luxurious twelve room mansion that had thirty-six glass windows, something not common at that time of log cabins with tar paper windows. Two covered porticos flanked the main house leading to its two appendages: Harman’s office and the summer kitchen.

Not only was the house a beautiful spot but there were acres of gardens and a greenhouse where citrus fruits grew all winter long. There was even special shrubbery trimmed in the shape of the original thirteen colonies.  Margaret especially enjoyed riding her white horse, Robin, over the island appearing as an exotic bird in her scarlet riding cape and feathered hat. Yes, more was definitely better.

But their happy life was short-lived here on the spot they called Blennerhassett Island. Some compared it to the beautiful Garden of Eden, but both seemed to have a snake that spoiled their pleasure. This time it was a snake in the form of Aaron Burr that wanted something forbidden.

Margaret said that Aaron Burr was a genius who applied to college at the age of eleven and graduated from Princeton at an early age. Burr was a very handsome man who loved fine things especially when procured through other people’s money. After a tie in a presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the recount made Jefferson the President, and the loser, Aaron Burr, the vice-president. Things did not start out on a good foot here, and Burr was more than a little dissatisfied.

In 1805, Burr visited Blennerhassett Island for dinner as he was curious about the eccentric foreigner … or perhaps he had heard of the money Blennerhassett had available to “invest” in his plans. Burr led them to believe that this was an easy way for them to increase their fortune.  These events took place at a time when the Blennerhassett funds were running low.

Margaret felt that Thomas Jefferson was the real serpent that crawled into their Garden of Eden in order to destroy them. There was a lot of animosity between Jefferson and Burr.  Margaret said that Jefferson was not the wonderful president that many thought he was.  She felt the Louisiana Purchase was illegal, and while considered an inventor said he only had invented two things: a wheel cypher secret decoder and a plow. Thomas Jefferson was said to even cut parts out of the Bible that he didn’t like or wish to follow in his life. It was quite obvious that Margaret did not have fond feelings for President Jefferson.

Jefferson tried to destroy Aaron Burr and by association, Harman Blennerhassett. He attempted to use his power to have Burr found guilty of treason.  However, Chief Justice John Marshall stood up to Jefferson, and the jury found Aaron Burr not guilty. Burr and Blennerhassett were both released from prison.

By this time, their house on the island had been looted with most of the fine things being carried off. The remainder of the items were sold at auction to pay off debts accumulated by the Blennerhassetts. In 1811, their beautiful mansion was burned to the ground. At this point, the Blennerhassett family fell into hardships and eventual poverty for the remainder of their lives.  Their hopes and dreams were shattered.

Debra Conner’s portrayal of Margaret Blennerhassett was outstanding. Debra actually spent much of her youth in the Marietta community and graduated from Marietta High School.  Often during the year, she presents similar programs to the area schools on both sides of the Ohio River as part of their Ohio or West Virginia history curriculum.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Urbana (June 26-30), Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28).  Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

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