Explore The History Of The Hamilton Area This Holiday Season

Hamilton, Ohio — Don’t throw away your shot at exploring one of Ohio’s most delightful small cities this holiday season.

Named for Alexander Hamilton by his pal Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, Fort Hamilton was built on the banks of the Great Miami River in 1791 and served as a supply depot for American forces in the late 18th century.

A town quickly grew up around the abandoned fort, becoming the Butler County seat and a hub of commerce and industry. Today, Hamilton is the 11th largest city in Ohio and has a thriving downtown district that’s perfect for a quick Yuletide getaway.

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Standing at the site of the old fort at the center of town is the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument," a beautiful neoclassical structure first opened in 1906. The monument honors Butler County military veterans, whose names (through the Spanish-American War) are etched into the Tennessee marble walls.

The city Christmas tree stands downtown near the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument.
The city Christmas tree stands downtown near the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument.

Visitors can go inside to see those names as well as the original huge stained-glass windows with life-sized depictions of women who helped the Union effort during the Civil War. Upstairs, in a room that Civil War veterans once used as a meeting hall, are several historical displays, including a 1939 scale model of Fort Hamilton.

"Billy Yank" waves his cap with joy for a Union victory, standing atop the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument."
"Billy Yank" waves his cap with joy for a Union victory, standing atop the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument."

Atop the building, 100 feet above the street, is a statue of a young Union soldier yelling and waving his cap to celebrate a Union triumph. Officially named “Victory — Jewel of the Soul,” the 3,500-pound bronze sculpture, which was cast in Hamilton, is known locally as “Billy Yank.”

Billy Yank is one of many public sculptures adorning downtown Hamilton. Another, of course, is Alexander Hamilton himself, cape flying and impossible to miss on a pedestal in the middle of High Street. Other sculptures and murals downtown celebrate beloved characters from children’s books such as “Lentil” and “Make Way for Ducklings” written and illustrated by Hamilton native Robert McCloskey.

If you're a nighthawk, you might miss the early morning goodies to be found on the Butler County Donut trail at bakeries like Mimi's in Hamilton.
If you're a nighthawk, you might miss the early morning goodies to be found on the Butler County Donut trail at bakeries like Mimi's in Hamilton.

Although visitors can seek out the many downtown artworks, it’s fun to discover them serendipitously while exploring the many shops and restaurants at the center of town.

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Across from the soldier’s monument is Heritage Hall, a lovely Art Deco building that once served as a municipal building. Today the building houses a museum room dedicated to McCloskey, offices and several businesses including Municipal Brew Works, 20 High St., www.municipal.beer/, a terrific craft brewery in a terrific historic space.

Another can’t-miss destination is Pinball Garage, 113 N. 3rd St., www.thepinballgarage.com, featuring 40 pinball machines, classic and new, and a bar with delicious craft cocktails and 30 beers on tap. Friday through Sunday, owner Brad Baker also operates Brisketology, a popular food truck that always sells out of its namesake barbecue, so order early. (Baker said he’s hoping to double the size of Pinball Garage in the near future.)

Stained-glass windows in the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument" celebrate the women who helped the Union in the Civil War.
Stained-glass windows in the "Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument" celebrate the women who helped the Union in the Civil War.

One of the most popular Hamilton destinations, drawing visitors from around the world, is Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, www.pyramidhill.org. The site features more than 100 outdoor sculptures in a 300-acre park. Visitors can drive along the main Gallery Loop Road or rent an “art cart” golf cart, which is easier to maneuver and park at the many scenic stops along the way.

Pyramid Hill also features a wonderful Ancient Sculpture Museum, displaying sculptures, mosaics, jars and other artifacts, some dating back almost 3,000 years.

A bit fresher, but no less popular, fare can be found on the Butler County Donut Trail, another attraction that draws visitors from far and wide.

The trail features 13 doughnut shops and bakeries, including three in Hamilton.

(I’ve always thought that a neighborhood doughnut shop is the early-bird equivalent of a friendly neighborhood bar — a great place to meet local folk and pick up local stories.)

Travelers who get a Donut Trail passport stamped at all 13 stops get, in addition to a whole lot of sweet, sweet calories, a souvenir Donut Trail T-shirt. (I don’t recommend finishing the trail in a single morning, BTW.) Visit BCDonutTrail.com for more info.

This statue of "Lentil" is one of several Robert McCloskey characters depicted in bronze or on murals downtown.
This statue of "Lentil" is one of several Robert McCloskey characters depicted in bronze or on murals downtown.

Hamilton also features several small historic districts within walking distance of downtown, including German Village, home of one of my favorite historic buildings in the entire state, the magnificently octagonal Hamilton Lane Library, built as a free library in 1866 by local industrialist Clark Lane.

The historic Lane Library was built in 1866 in Hamilton's German Village by industrialist Clark Lane.
The historic Lane Library was built in 1866 in Hamilton's German Village by industrialist Clark Lane.

The German Village neighborhood will also host one of several special central Hamilton holiday events, the German Village Christmas Walk on Dec. 5, featuring choirs, traditional food and drink, locally crafted gifts and Santa with reindeer!

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Other Hamilton holiday events include Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27; The Hamilton Ornament Crawl, Dec. 1-4; Hamilton Christkindlemart, an authentic German Christmas Market Dec. 3-4; and Stocking Up Sip & Shop, featuring last-minute Christmas gifts and adult beverages in the downtown’s designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA).

For more information about holiday events, visit www.hamilton-ohio.com/hamilton.

For more information about other things to see and do in Hamilton and Butler County, visit www.TravelButlerCounty.com.

Steve Stephens is a freelance travel writer and photographer. Email him at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Hamilton, Ohio, rich in history, has many sights to see

Source : https://news.yahoo.com/explore-history-hamilton-area-holiday-025116645.html

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