Every time the Darke County Historical Society unearths a new finding, there’s a good chance that the public’s first look at it will come in the exhibition halls of Greenville’s Garst Museum. More than 300,000 American artifacts fill the museum's six wings, many of which were discovered—or rediscovered, as the case may be—over the course of the society's archeological digs, genealogical research, and historic preservation activities.
Among the century-spanning exhibits, the softer side of sharpshooter Annie Oakley unfolds in the Coppock Wing, and antique cannonballs and Humvees speak of the wartime exploits of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Down on the first floor, a painting of Chief Tarhe, Grand Sachem of the Wyandots, presides over a collection that focuses on America during the 1700s but leaves room for anachronistic elements such as mastodon bones. The newest exhibit, "Diversity in Darke County: The Story of Longtown," celebrates local history with its visual chronicle of a tri-racial settlement in Greenville.
Aside from the main two-story brick Colonial home—which was built as an inn in 1852, according to Touring Ohio—the society and the museum maintain several properties of historic note. A free, self-guided tour of Bear's Mill and its 800-foot water channel can be capped with a cup of gourmet coffee, and the Lowell Thomas house provides insights into the childhood of the broadcaster and adventurer who once famously dined with the Prince of Wales inside an actual whale.
On October 5, 1905, years of invention and failure culminated into history as Wilbur Wright took to the sky in a craft that soared through the air for 24 miles. More than a century later, just a few miles from the field over which it first flew, the 1905 Wright Flyer III—now designated a National Historic Landmark—spreads its wings at Carillon Historical Park, inspiring visitors with its tale of innovation, persistence, and progress, and the aptly named "Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence" exhibit. Nearby, the park's Heritage Center features the year-round Carousel of Dayton Innovation, which contains 31 figures, a 38-foot hand-painted mural illustrating the turn of events in the Wright Brothers flying exhibits, and rides for $1.
As impressive as they are, the airplane and carousel are only a few of Carillon Historical Park’s myriad attractions. Named for the 151-foot-tall Deeds Carillon, whose 57 bells have been pealing since 1942, the campus spreads across 65 acres. Just south of downtown, 30 historical buildings, including the 28,000 sq.ft. Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship, draw visitors into Dayton’s past and share in the park's devotion to history, heritage, and progress. Early settlement structures such as the Newcom Tavern—the oldest building still standing in Dayton—sit alongside other original buildings such as an 1815-era stone cottage. The park also includes replica buildings, such as the Deeds Barn and the Wright Cycle Shop, which recreate the birthplaces of the automobile self-starter and the airplane.
The park’s transportation theme continues with an 1835 B&O steam locomotive and an interactive 1/8 scale railroad available to ride on select days for an extra fee and whose train cars carry passengers more effectively than 1/8 scale feet would. Nearby, the first Chevy S-10 truck minted by GM’s Moraine Plant in 1988 mingles with a fleet of vintage and classic autos. After admiring their hulls, visitors can swing by Culp’s Café—named and modeled after the eatery where widow and mother of six Charlotte Gilbert Culp served pies in the '30s and '40s—and order burgers or soda-fountain creations off a '40s-style menu. Before leaving, guests can peruse Wright brothers paraphernalia and items from the park’s 1930s letterpress printing shop at the museum store or sign up for educational programming that teaches lost arts such as candle dipping and butter churning.
With a plethora of frame and mat samples, Deck The Walls can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most framing starts at $99), dorm-room movie posters sparkle (24"x36" pieces start at $99), and sports jerseys shine. The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. Deck The Walls' lifetime guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.
The Gallery for Young People offers summer art camps, field trips, and classes for kids and teens, helping them create art using a variety of media. Kids aged 3–5 start out by working with charcoal, paint, pastels, and papier-mâché. As students get older, lessons become more challenging, encouraging them to craft mixed-media self portraits and study printmaking. The studio also hosts exhibitions of the children's work to showcase their unique accomplishments.
Since 1976, Keith and Betty Ketring have been combining their interests in woodworking and fine-art prints by preserving their clientele’s artworks and heirlooms with custom frames. Their inventory of framing materials includes a spectrum of moulding styles—from stark black to ornately carved and gilded—as well as conservation glass and a multitude of colorful mats.
Easy as A-B-C, the artists behind Life in Letters craft custom photographic gifts available both in their shop and online. Over the years, they've amassed a vast collection of black-and-white photos of common objects and sights that resemble letters—such as arches, golf balls, fences, and palm trees—which they assemble into meaningful words, such as love, laugh, family, and nihilism. Once customers have chosen their word and selected each letter, they can have their piece matted and framed to suit their own decor or that of a loved one. The photographers also share their skills with aspiring shutterbugs during regular introductory photography classes.