The firefighters of Engine Company #45 Firehouse extinguished their last blaze in 1962 after 56 years of fearless public service. Although the team dissipated, the elegant, 1906 firehouse—with Renaissance Revival details and three doors wide enough to accommodate horse-drawn fire engines—remained, languishing as a city storehouse until 1980, when the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati moved in. The building was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with special exhibits. It was also filled with antique firefighting gear that is in excellent condition in spite of years of smoke inhalation.
The collection reveals early 19th-century firefighting tactics with an alarm drum that once warned of fire from the roof of a carpenter shop and was later used to provide rhythm during disco infernos. In the Safe House exhibit, families diagram their homes and create personalized emergency plans while learning tips about fire prevention.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center narrates the story of slavery through the past and into the present with vivid photo- and artifact-filled exhibits. Learn about the houses, tunnels, and basements traversed by the more than an estimated 100,000 enslaved people who sought freedom on the Underground Railroad, before settling in for a 25-minute, experiential film detailing the courageous path of one woman’s flight to freedom. Recently opened in 2010, the 4,000 square foot Invisible: Slavery Today exhibit examines contemporary forms of enslavement, guiding guests through an informative and elucidating sensory experience. Concluding the tour, visitors can make a personal commitment to the 21st Century Abolitionists. Museum guests can also delve into their own family history in the genealogical archives where personalized assistance from a history buff volunteer will help steer your search through your family tree’s foliage.
Step inside the unassuming Victorian walls of Creativities' hands-on studio, where artists of all age levels and skill levels hone their crafting skills across a wide range of mediums. Give yourself or your youngsters some tactile stimulus through projects utilizing beads, clay ($3–$10), metal, wood ($3–$10), paper, textiles, and more. Once you cover the modest studio fee for each artist in your party ($8 per person for two hours), make yourself cozy anywhere in Creativities' comfortable reaches and become an insta-engineer by assembling a wooden train kit ($5), a ribbon expert with a ribbon headband ($10), or another type of expert craftsperson via the crafty items available for purchase in the store. Let your mind relax, and simply see where your hands, brains, and optional monocle take you. If you experience a creative block, or any other block-sensation, the friendly, artistic staffers will be happy to assist. If the muse strikes most at home, pick up a few supplies and relocate to your home kitchen, family room, or crafting dungeon.
Laura Paul Gallery is a boutique with two driving ambitions: to beautify abodes and to make special occasions special. Amplify your home’s aesthetics with original artwork or framing and interior-design services, or make housewarmings, weddings, or baby showers memorable and carefree with gifts or event-planning and personal-shopping services. Personalize any item, from overnight bags and cheeseboards to wax-molded wings, or pick up uniformly beloved gifts such as children’s toys and candles. Laura Paul herself may be on hand to help any befuddled buyer navigate the land of endless options as she applies her personal-shopping expertise to tricky gifting circumstances, such as what to get the clown who has every clown thing except a clown car big enough for 141 clowns.
The American Sign Museum dazzles peepers with its staggering collection of nearly 3,000 signs and sign-related objects. Admission for two (a $20 value; children under 12 are free) grants curious excursionists, postmodern art-lovers, and knowledge-thirsty bounty hunters a personally guided tour through a century’s worth of clearly labeled exhibits, including spinning Sputnik-like signs, opulent gilded specimens, and the samples used by salespeople. Witness scientific signage with a “changeable” neon sign that runs on radio waves, or surf through a sense-sating sea of sign-making tools, photographs, models, and artwork. Founder Tod Swormstedt leads most tours, doling out generous portions of knowledge on various signs’ histories and contributions to the American landscape.
NVISION carries a large inventory of handcrafted, recycled, secondhand, and vintage clothing and home furnishings that caters to one-of-a-kind tastes and delights artistically funky sensibilities. Dream about how much tastier your cooking would be if you wore a red and white polka-dotted rooster apron ($15), or practice twirling with a mannequin dressed in a green sparkly dress by Mr. McIver ($36). If your head prefers wearing hats to wearing kittens, try on a natural straw hat ($25), which features decorative straw flowers. Feet will rest comfortably when perched upon a stripey chenille and muslin handmade pillow ($15) from Emily B, while smokers can exhale cinematically with a ceramic Italian smoking set ($40) complete with ashtray, tobacco box, and refillable lighter.