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Is Columbus, Ohio a bucket list destination?  Well, I guess everyone’s answer to that would be different.  But, it wasn’t … for me.  I didn’t go there for work, and I don’t have family there either.  How I ended up there isn’t important, but what is important is it was an extremely unique, and unexpectedly enjoyable trip.

Columbus is the capital of Ohio and is the largest city in the state.  I was actually surprised to find this out though, because I would never have thought so when I was there.  I rented a car, and found it was very easy to get around Columbus.  There is very good signage, not a lot of traffic, and it doesn’t have a “big city” feel.  I found it to be very scenic with a lot of mature greenery.

I stayed in the historic suburb of Worthington which is north of Columbus.  Worthington is a very quaint village-type town which was founded in 1803 and is full of beautiful historic buildings and architecture, not to mention a kick-ass farmer’s market which I had the pleasure of visiting!

I really didn’t know anything about Columbus before going there, so I was surprised at the treats that lay ahead.

Bogie & Bacall

When I was younger, I had a fascination with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  I had read Lauren Bacall’s autobiographies, and was very enchanted with her rise to fame in Hollywood, and her relationship and marriage to Humphrey Bogart.  

They were married on May 21, 1945 at Malabar Farm, the home of Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield, who was a friend of Mr. Bogart’s.  Mr. Bromfield was also a very prominent conservationalist and agriculturist.  Malabar Farm is now owned by the state of Ohio, and tours are offered of the property, the surrounding area, and of the house itself.  Oh, and Malabar Farm just happens to be an hour’s drive north of Columbus.

Aside from being able to stand in the exact spot as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as they cut their wedding cake, as well as the room in which they spent their wedding night!, the tour of Malabar Farm offers a ride on a horse-drawn farm wagon around the farm and surrounding area.  

A Ghost Story

One of the highlights of the farm tour is a stop at Rose House, and the story of Ceely Rose.  Ceely Rose was a mentally challenged young lady who lived with her mother, father and brother, down the road from Malabar Farm.  

The story goes that Ceely was laughed at because of her challenges, and she was befriended by a young man, who treated her very kindly.  Ceely mistook his kindness for love, and began telling everyone in the area that they were going to be married.  The young man began to be uncomfortable with the situation, but not wanting to hurt her feelings, he asked her father if he could do something to put a stop to it.

Ceely’s family responded by telling Ceely that she could not longer see the young man.  Ceely was very upset by this and decided that the only way she and the young man could be together would be if her family were … shall we say … out of the picture … so she put arsenic in their morning oatmeal.  Her father died first, and then her brother, but her mother recovered, and figuring out what had happened, she told Ceely that they were going to move out of the area so that she could protect Ceely from the authorities.  Ceely was again upset that she would lose her love, so she poisoned her mother again, and this time, she succeeded.  

The authorities finally figured out what had happened, but they couldn’t prove it, so they asked a friend of Ceely’s family to speak to Ceely to coerce her into confessing.  Her friend was successful, and Ceely was tried for the murders and convicted by reason of insanity.  Because she was now a ward of the state, she spent the rest of her life in an asylum.

One of the interesting things is that residents and visitors to the area have experienced many paranormal experiences, and the area has been the subject of an episode of the television show “Ghost Hunters”. 

It is said that at night, many people have seen a lone figure standing in the window of Rose House, and that they believe it is Ceely looking for her lost love, as this is a habit that she had when she was alive.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Columbus is also home to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and our visit there was a huge highlight of our trip.  This is one of the most beautiful attractions I have ever visited.  Many of the exhibits are housed in warm rooms, as they require controlled temperature environments.  

The Blooms and Butterflies exhibit is a beautiful stroll through a garden of flowers where many different species of butterflies fly at random, and there is a beautiful exhibit of orchids.

The Conservatory is also home to a beautiful collection of stunning glass art work by artist Dale Chihuly.  These pieces are very colourful and truly stunning, and the experience is not to be missed.  The building is surrounded by Franklin Park, a great place to round out the day with a picnic, which is exactly what we did!  Here’s a link to the Conservatory website Franklin Park Conservatory and Garden.

My trip to Columbus ranks as one of my all-time favourite memories, but I would never have planned a trip there if hadn’t been for my son.  You see, he made a friend through the Internet who happened to live in Columbus, and before I knew what was happening, I was on the red eye to the hub of Chicago to catch a connecting flight to Columbus.  

A bucket list destination?  Maybe not.  But for Bogie and Bacall fans … priceless …  


Photograph courtesy of Pixaday