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Published: Monday, 4/14/2003

Wolcott House exhibit reflects Ohio's history

BY JACK BAESSLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Gendron baby carriage manufactured about 1870 in Toledo that's part of an Ohio Bicentennial exhibit is parked inside the entrance to the Wolcott House Museum as employee Peggy Earhart arrives for work. A Gendron baby carriage manufactured about 1870 in Toledo that's part of an Ohio Bicentennial exhibit is parked inside the entrance to the Wolcott House Museum as employee Peggy Earhart arrives for work.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

A 100-year-old tricycle stirs one to wonder if a little pedal-powered vehicle shown in a faded photograph of Rilla Hull hanging behind it at the Wolcott House Museum isn't one and the same.

“This is Rilla Hall, the last owner of the Wolcott House,” said Glenna Berres, coordinator of special events and volunteers at the museum complex on River Road in Maumee.

“Look at what she is riding,” she said. “I can't prove it, but it looks so similar.”

The picture has been in the house built by James Wolcott, a prominent farmer and businessman, for years. Ms. Hull, who died in 1957, was his great-granddaughter.

The tricycle, called a junior high-wheel tricycle, was donated just a year ago by two Maumee residents.

Linking exhibit items can be a tenuous effort when the people and records to verify them are gone, museum officials said. But yet, an exhibit that opened this month may help residents feel connected to Ohio's history.

The display includes items from the museum's permanent collection and materials loaned or donated that have never been shown before at the museum complex that includes an old train depot, a log house, a saltbox house, and church.

There are about 200 marked items that reflect Ohio's history - housewares, tools, clothes, and other things that tell of the state's past and the people who lived it. It's a tribute to Ohio's 200th birthday marking statehood this year.

“People only think of history taking one form,” Charles Jacobs, executive director of the museum complex, said. “I like to think of history as multifaceted [with] neat intersections and connections that run through our lives - along with a little bit of pride.”

There's a Gendron baby carriage, handsomely made of wicker and topped with its own parasol. On loan to the Wolcott House, it was made in Toledo by a company that grew to prominence making lighter, cheaper wheels for an emerging bicycle industry.

A striking Amberina vase made of glass years ago by Libbey, Inc., is near a window. Also being shown are logging tools, an old DeVilbiss atomizer, and an emigrant's trunk sent from Switzerland. There's a field box believed to have been used by Gen. Anthony Wayne in the 1770s.

“The intent was to create an expansive, diverse cross-section of our history, the material culture,” Mr. Jacobs said. “What went through my mind were things that were special to Ohio, special to the Ohio culture.

“I tried to picture the mundane as well as the extraordinary, the unique and also the commonplace. It may end up a mishmash, but I guess that's Ohio history."

The exhibit will be on display from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through October. There is an admission charge. Items commemorating the state's 200th birthday are on sale at the Talking Turtle gift shop.



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