“The World’s Greatest Air Harbor”: Old Port Columbus Airport

Old Port Columbus Air Terminal & Control Tower Recently the Columbus Landmarks Foundation released their list of the most endangered historic properties in the central Ohio area for 2014. One of my goals is to visit as many of these places as is possible and photograph them as they stand today, so long as they are able to be visited and viewed.

At the very top of this year’s list is the Old Port Columbus Airport terminal on the east side. Opened in 1929, it’s a rather attractive Art Deco building, one hailed as “The World’s Greatest Air Harbor” by the city officials who had spent nearly a decade lobbying for it. None other than Charles Lindbergh himself selected the site for the airport, which also—this is fascinating to me—served as a train terminal for the Transcontinental Air Transport New York to Los Angeles air-rail system.

Old Port Columbus

The “street-side” of the building—this is one of the first things seen by rail passengers entering Port Columbus.

It sounds as if travelling such a distance was a bit convoluted back in ’29: For a $351.94 ticket, you’d go from New York to Columbus via the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma via air, then back onto a train to head to Clovis, New Mexico, and a final leg in the air from Clovis to LA. I’d probably handcuff my luggage to myself lest it be lost! All of that train- and plane-hopping over the course of the required 48 hours sounds exhausting, but of course it was a much different time—travel was a luxurious pleasure and event back then.

(I’ll pause so we can all lean back and fantasize about romantic railcar trips and airplane stewardesses serving cocktails. Ahhhh…) Continue reading


The Early Years of aviation at the National Museum of the US Air Force

Sopwith Camel photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay.

Sopwith F-1 Camel

Recently my husband and I took a trip over to Dayton to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Neither of us had been there in many years, and certainly not since the Museum’s expansion. Thus we had no idea what to expect other than an enjoyable day looking at some beautiful aircraft and learning about the history of the USAF—quite good things on any day, really. The Museum can also boast of being the world’s oldest and largest (hey, this is America, kids!) military aviation museum, so we knew there’s be plenty to make the drive worthwhile.

Early Years gallery at the National Museum of the USAF. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay!

Welcome to the Early Years gallery! We actually went through the Museum a bit backwards. Still had fun, though.

Well! I’m happy and even eager to tell you that our expectations were vastly exceeded: The Museum is wonderfully arranged, full of fantastic ships and tons of history on the easy-to-read-even placards, and it’s a terrific way to spend a day (particularly a very, very cold winter’s day!).


Sliver of the Museum’s O-47B, an observation ship developed in 1934.

Nor are they exaggerating about the size: Three gigantic hangars are filled with ships, and there’s also a missile & space gallery as well as an IMAX theatre, outdoor exhibits (it was too cold & windy for us to enjoy these during this trip) and a memorial park, as well as smaller galleries connecting each hangar. Continue reading

Ann & John Davis, Revolutionary War Heroes: Wherein I geek out over history (again)

Davis Cemetery, Dublin, Ohio. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved

Last spring, after completing an errand, I spotted a very small cemetery hidden from a very busy main road in nearby Dublin, Ohio. It wasn’t but a few days later that I returned, early on a frosty late-April morning (my walking shoes left my toes icicles, necessitating the digging of my hiking boots from the trunk) to capture the old cemetery in its best light.

In the photograph above, you’ll see the largest monument in the graveyard—with the arch and urn over two pillars. There were quite a few lovely markers in the cemetery, and really, I found this one to be rather plain compared to its gracefully carved companions. But walking past the marker, two words caught my eye: “Washington” and “Revolution”.

Ann Davis, Revolutionary War Messenger

The 161 year-old inscription is quite definite and easy to read:

Ann Davis was messenger and carried orders from General Washington to the other commanders in the Revolutionary war in 1779 and 1780.

Wow. Well, if anything in a graveyard is going to get my attention, it’s an inscription like that.  Continue reading

First all-electric hotel in the world being restored

Vintage postcard featuring The Hotel Edison, Sunbury PAAccording to the blog for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Hotel Edison is being restored to its 1930s glory by two real estate investors.

Named for the man who, in 1883, made it the first commercial structure illuminated by electricity,The Hotel Edison was converted over time to support a mix of uses and had been in a state of decline for years. Though they lacked any experience with historic preservation, Meghan Beck and her business partner, Bradley Niemiec, both 36, bought it anyway.Three years and countless hours of restoration work later, the hotel, located in downtown Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is thriving.Using photographs taken of the hotel in the 1930s as a guide, Beck and Niemiec started restoration work with the dining room — applying new wallpaper, installing picture and chair rails at the appropriate heights, reupholstering furniture from the 1930s, restoring the molding, and even tearing up the carpet and refurbishing the original wood floor.Next came the upstairs hallways where ceilings regained their original 12-foot height and fluorescent lighting was replaced with more historically accurate fixtures.

I so love to hear about this sort of preservation-restoration going on! Continue reading