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.
Once a year, spurred perhaps by the rise of the harvest moon or the purchase of thousands of Halloween costumes, the grounds at Corpse Manor transform from a quaint home into a trio of haunting exhibits. Within the manor itself, the terrifying tale of Lord Henry Calvert and his family unfolds as their house comes to unlife with walking corpses and ghosts. Also within the walls lies the Night Shadows experience, where hungry things stalk visitors through the interplay of light and shadow. Outside the house proper lies a stretch of forested land known as the Sinister Woods, where ghouls and monsters lurk behind each trunk, pursuing the unwary as they wander the gore-strewn paths.
Urban Element assembles scrumptious café fare while surrounding guests in an inviting wine bar atmosphere replete with art-adorned walls and live music. The menu abounds with fairly healthy fare, including homade roasted red-pepper hummus ($8) and grilled-pineapple-and-shrimp salad ($10). Patrons can coordinate outfits to match the blue cheese pasta with chickpeas ($10+) or sample a curried chicken-salad sandwich or wrap ($7). The prevalence of paintings at Urban Element allows guests to appreciate local art without the need to pay admission or ship themselves inside cardboard boxes to fancy museums.
When The Haunted Angelus House's monsters first come out in the evening, frightened guests can ward them off with glow sticks. The neon batons send a warning signal to the unseen horrors, letting them know the group contains children or timid souls who may not be ready for the full brunt of their fearsomeness. But as the night progresses, so does the terror, and once the clock strikes eight, nothing can hold back the monsters, demons, and zombies as they spill from the shadows to horrify unsuspecting visitors. The only hope left for the innocent victims is to navigate the 37-room haunt, which swarms with demon tenants, and then make it past the 3,000-square-foot outdoor black maze haunted by chainsaw people and souls willing to risk eternity for their chance at a rent-controlled apartment.
Though the event aims to scare, its real intent will warm visitors' hearts, as all proceeds are donated to The Angelus, a nonprofit that aids those with cerebral palsy.
For the late Dr. George Henry Alexander Clowes, the most important things in life were science and the arts. The good doctor wanted to share this devotion with the Indianapolis community, so he devised and funded Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University. Completed in 1963, the hall shares Butler's gorgeous aesthetic with its arching stone façade and lush crimson interior, which has room for over 2,000 patrons. In addition to major touring productions and public speakers, Clowes Memorial Hall is also the home of the Indianapolis Opera, the Butler Ballet, and the Indy 500.
With the sunrise, Midwest Balloon Rides’ hot air balloons slowly rise into the morning sky for sprawling views of the Indiana landscape. They also take off at sunset, but no matter what time their kaleidoscopic balloons enter the wild blue yonder, a licensed pilot is at the helm. They gently navigate the vessel to ensure a safe journey that doesn’t end up somewhere over the rainbow but back on the ground for a ceremonial toast to celebrate the occasion.