The Heritage Center – Clark County

About a mile or so from the Hartman Rock Garden I covered in another post is The Heritage Center (aka the Clark County Historical Society). The first thing you’ll notice about this museum center is the building itself. It’s an amazing looking place.

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When it was built over 100 years ago, it was Springfield’s City Hall and a Farmer’s Market. Today, this block long building holds 2 floors worth of museum exhibits, as well as various city offices, shops, and even a cafe. Unfortunately, the inside isn’t as ornate as the outside, but it does hold several galleries of great Ohio history.

The first exhibit you will visit details the history of The National Road.

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tl;dr history

The National Road was an over 600 mile road built in the early 1800s that connected Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois (later, extensions were added to lengthen the road to Baltimore and St. Louis). It was the first improved highway built by the federal government. The National Road greatly helped the westward expansion of the United States. Today,  US Route 40 largely parallels the original route of The National Road.

The National Road gallery isn’t huge. Along the wall are a series of cases showing various furnishings and events brought through Springfield via the National Road over time. The center of the room is kind of a timeline of the Road using the vehicles that would have traveled the Road over time from wagons…

img_2032to motorcycles…

img_2050to other road hogging behemoths…

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Placed oddly, right at the halfway point of the National Road exhibit is the entrance to the next set of galleries. I strongly suggest finishing the National Road gallery first, and then making your way back to the two galleries back here…

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This Gateway Gallery is actually just one room mostly dedicated to early Springfield inventors and the architecture of a couple old buildings that had been torn down.

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The third gallery is sort of an interesting catch-all exhibit, set up much like a turn of the century Exposition where local companies would advertise.

There are quite a number of vehicles is this room. You can’t touch most of them, but you can get close and see all the wonderful detail that they used to put into machinery back then.

img_2058img_2062img_2066img_2071There was a disturbingly good sized display of Funeral Equipment as well…

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There was also a nice scale model of downtown Springfield. Unfortunately, I forgot to note the era, but I believe it was from the 1940s-50s.

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We now head upstairs to see what’s up in what’s known as the Main Gallery.

This gallery is mostly your typical local museum type stuff: Native American pieces found while tearing up their burial mounds…

img_2083Items that were made in Springfield…

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I love this fan display…img_2098

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Springfield’s role in politics, including the actual desk of Congressman Dennis Hobson

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The final part of the main gallery is a series of dioramas that contain materials from the Civil War to World War II including an extremely rare Civil War era tent.IMG_2109.JPG

I love the “I could care less, I’m going home.” look on this mannequin.

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oh yeah, and lots of guns…

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Overall, the Main Gallery doesn’t have too much in the way of “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” exhibits, but it does give a well presented overview of Clark County history. I especially love all the signage from local business that hang from the ceiling.

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The Heritage Center is a wonderful stop if you’re ever in Springfield. There are 3 large galleries with tons of history…and they are all completely free! I would recommend about 2.5-3 hours to get through everything. I initially wanted to go to The Heritage Center because of the building. And while the inside wasn’t as ornate as the outside, the museum was very solid and well worth the stop.

If you’d like to learn more about The Heritage Center, check out their website: http://heritage.center/

Here’s my flickr album, with 100+ more pictures! Heritage Center

 

 

 

 

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