During a spring road trip to Youngstown, another museum I visited is the Butler Institute of American Art on Wick Avenue at the eastern edge of YSU.

The Butler is known worldwide as "America's Museum." Its holdings exceed 20,000 individual works. Its mission is to preserve art created by U.S. citizens.

The museum's original structure was built in 1919. A skywalk connects that part to an adjacent former church, where exhibits are housed in the back.

What makes the Butler more enticing than its outstanding art is that there is no admission fee charged. It's very difficult to imagine that nowadays.

The museum also has a branch in Howland Township (Trumbull County), which focuses on important international artists whose works have profoundly influenced America.

Among the artwork on display when I visited were pieces from 14-year-old Autumn de Forest of Las Vegas, Nev., who Butler director Louis Zona describes as "a child prodigy."

Some of her works were painted when she was 5 years old, when she began a self-education process and studied the works of other artists.

De Forest's family tree includes a number of art world well-knowns such as her great-great uncle -- Hudson River School painter Lockwood de Forest. The Butler hopes she will return.

Through early June, contemporary impressionist George Gallo had many of his landscapes on display, including colorful creek, waterfall and forest scenes.

Many of his works are among the private collections of celebrities such as Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise, Meg Ryan and Robert DeNiro.

Alfred Leslie's "10 Men" exhibit displayed 10 larger than life oil pastels which included three self-portraits and portraits of other men. He is noted for his abstract and figurative painting.

Audrey Flack's "Heroines" featured drawings and prints focusing on women neglected or demonized by history. Photos of iconic signs were on display through at the Howland branch.

Hubbard born Cliff McGinnis' colorful carvings of birds of the region -- "The Bird as Theme in American Art" -- is on display through the end of the year.

Primitive paintings from the colonial era, carvings and ship models will be exhibited through the end of 2016 in the old church portion of the museum.

One of the unique things there, too, are antique carousel horses made by some famous manufacturers such as Alan Herschell and Charles W. Parker.


On the northern edge of Mill Creek Metroparks, just south of Mahoning Avenue, is Fellows Riverside Gardens, featuring 12 acres of landscaped beauty.

In 1958, Elizabeth A. Fellows bequeathed the property to Mill Creek Metroparks, along with funds to create a public garden. The first plantings began in 1963. Today, more than 400,000 people visit annually.

It was sprinkling rain when I visited, and the brilliant spring colors still had not appeared, but there was a lot of lush green on the grounds.

The gardens feature diverse plant displays, roses, annuals (crocus, tulips, narcissus), perennials, flowering bulbs, rhododendrons, shade plants, herbs and dwarf conifers.

The D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center hosts exhibits, gifts, the Garden Cafe and a vast gardening library, and offers gardening courses.

A gazebo and the Kidston Pavilion are used for weddings, programs and classes. Pumpkin Walk at Twilight, a fall exhibit of carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns, and Winter Nights, a display of luminaries, are annual events.


When I stopped there four years ago, Lanterman's Mill on the south end of Mill Creek Metropark wasn't open, but I explored it on my latest visit.

The mill grinds cornmeal, buckwheat and whole wheat flour, which can be purchased in the gift shop, along with other items made by local artisans.

The frame structure was built in 1845-46 by German Lanterman and his brother-in-law Samuel Kimberly. It replaced two previous mills, the second of which was washed away in a flood.

The mill was highly successful, utilizing a water wheel and three sets of grinding stones, but closed in 1888 when roller mills became more efficient to operate. It was purchased by the parks system in 1892 and housed a ballroom, bathhouse for swimmers, concession stand and boat storage, and later a nature and history museum.

From 1982-84, a man and his sons who were instrumental in restoring Gaston's Mill in Beaver Creek State Park and Garrett's Mill in Garrettsville restored Lanterman's.

A $600,000 grant helped with the process, which included a new roof, doors, windows, grinding equipment and 4-ton water wheel, plus an observation deck and walkways outside.

The five-story wooden structure, which is now operational, sets beside Lanterman's Falls. Three large millstones lay on the ground outside the mill, and there's a covered bridge in the woods behind it.

The Route 62 (Canfield Road) bridge provides a perfect spot from which to photograph the mill and falls. When foliage isn't thick, the covered bridge is visible behind.


From the outside, I admired Stambaugh Auditorium on the YSU campus. The building wasn't open so I couldn't take a look inside.

The auditorium, which seats about 2,500 people on three levels, was built in 1926. It has eight fluted ionic columns across the front entrance, with many steps leading to the doors.

The concert hall walls are made of Indiana limestone, with wood paneling on the balcony fronts. The stage has natural hardwood floors and a permanent concert shell.

The facility is equipped with an E.M. Skinner pipe organ, with a 4-manual console and 4,000 pipes ranging from a few inches to 32 feet. It's on the National Register of Historic Places.

The dream of industrialist and philanthropist Henry Stambaugh, Will Rogers was the first famous person to appear there. It was built at a cost of $1.3 million.

Although it wasn't open that day -- it's only open the first Monday of each month -- I stopped by the Austin Log Cabin in Austintown, which is owned by the local historical society.

The cabin dates to 1814 and its first residents were the Packard families. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church bought it in 1973 and began to tear it down, but discovered its log beams.

The two-story relic has been restored and is now a National Historic Landmark. It houses old furnishings, including a spinning wheel and yarn winder and Ohio bicentennial memorabilia.

A one-room schoolhouse is part of the display, complete with a coal stove, desks, and old primers and yearbooks from Austintown Fitch High School.

Antique farm implements grace the yard

and basement, including a horse-drawn hay cutter and hay rake like the ones my grandpa used when I was a lad.

The grounds also boast a corn crib, three-seat outhouse, smokehouse and a small coal hauling car from an old Austintown mine.

A Youngstown State professor's archaeological dig revealed that a chicken coop, well, two outhouses, two barns, a hog shed, cistern and summer house once were on the property.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

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