The Kahiki Supper Club

The Kahiki Supper Club was one of the best known restaurants in Columbus.  Open from 1961 to 2000 , it was located on East Broad Street.  Thirteen years after its closure, many still hold fond memories of the restaurant.

Glass from the Kahiki Supper Club from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society (catalog number H 88221).

Glass from the Kahiki Supper Club from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society (catalog number H 88221).


After World War II, soldiers returned to the United States with stories and pictures from the South Pacific. This experience, in addition to a general increase in consumer spending, spurred Tiki culture, a “romanticized mix of Polynesian and Pacific Rim food and tropical décor.”[1] By the time Hawaii became a state in 1959, Tiki culture was in full swing. Luaus became a popular theme for parties in the suburbs and tropical themed drinks, like Mai Tais and Pina Coladas, made their way onto many restaurant menus across the country. Restaurants with Tiki themes began to open during the 1950s, holding hundreds of people. The Tiki theme extended beyond drinks and food; the Tiki themed grocery store, Trader’s Joe opened its doors in 1958. As one Tiki historian has noted, “the Tiki culture provided an outlet for having fun in an otherwise conservative society.”[2] The largest Tiki themed restaurant in the country would soon open its doors in Columbus.
Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club, a tiki themed restaurant formerly in Columbus, Ohio.

Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club, a tiki themed restaurant formerly in Columbus, Ohio.


Originally it was a Tiki bar known as The Grass Shack, but a fire in 1959 led owners Bill Sapp and Lee Henry to conceive of building the largest Polynesian restaurant in the continental United States to be called the Kahiki Supper Club. The restaurant, designed by Columbus architect Coburn Morgan was built in 1960 at the reported cost of $1 million dollars. The building could hold over  500 guests, waterfalls, tanks of fish, live birds, large drums, and an iconic monkey fountain known as “George”; at the center of the building was a giant stone Moai fireplace. For most visitors though, the main draw was the variety of exotic drinks. The restaurant featured three bars and served drinks in over 30 different cups, goblets, and bowls. Visitors and celebrities came to the Kahiki from across the country; the first Columbus Asian Festival was planned in the basement of the Kahiki.  In 1988, Michael Tsao bought out his partner and started a frozen food company next door to the restaurant.

As Tiki culture went out of fashion by the 1970s, many Tiki bars and restaurants fell by the wayside. In 1997, the Kahiki was put on the National Registrar of Historic Places. Sadly, the Kahiki closed its doors in 2000 and was demolished afterwards; the giant stone Moai fireplace was removed by a giant crane before the building was demolished. The Kahiki brand continues to thrive today selling frozen Polynesian food in grocery stores across the country. There has been a renewed interest in Tiki culture across the country. Fans of the restaurant in Columbus can still visit George at the recently opened Grass Skirt Tiki Room.

Drink Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club formerly in Columbus, Ohio.

Drink Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club formerly in Columbus, Ohio.


Tiki God Mask from the Kahiki Supper Club recently acquired by the Ohio Historical Society.

Tiki God Mask from the Kahiki Supper Club recently acquired by the Ohio Historical Society.


The Ohio Historical Society has some objects in its collection from the Kahiki including a dining and drink menu from 1999 exhibiting the food and drink the Kahiki was serving at the time of its closure, a Tiki god ceramic cup which once held one of the infamous cocktail drinks, and, our most recent acquisition, a wooden Tiki god mask that was once on the walls of the restaurant.  While the restaurant is long gone, its legacy lives on in Ohio and across the country today.

Sources:

Kirsten, Sven A. The Book of Tiki: the Cult of Polynesian Pop in Fifties America. Köln: Taschen, 2000.

Rodgers, Rick, and Heather Maclean. The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook. New York: Running Press, 2012.

Whitaker, Jan. “Ohio + Tahiti = Kahiki.” Restauranting Through History. http://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.com/2013/05/28/ohio-tahiti-kahiki/ (accessed December 6, 2013).

[1] Rodgers, Rick, and Heather Maclean. The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook. New York: Running Press, 2012.

[2] Kirsten, Sven A. The Book of Tiki: the Cult of Polynesian Pop in Fifties America. Köln: Taschen, 2000.

Emily Lang, History Curator

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“Some Problems Solved for Housewives”: Cooking, Cleaning, Dressing and Entertaining in Historic Newspapers

When you think of reasons to read a newspaper, either in its traditional print or dynamic online format, it probably goes without saying that one of the first things you think of is news, whether it is local, state, national or international. We rely on newspapers and other media outlets to keep us abreast of current affairs, and it was no different for our ancestors living in an era before the Internet and television.

Other items that might compel you to pick up a newspaper are (to name a few): opinion pieces, entertainment features, advice columns, weather forecasts, music and movie reviews, comic strips and advertisements. And this was also no different for our ancestors. Newspapers served as one of their primary forms of communication and, as such, were jam-packed with a variety of content. Reading historical newspapers is a great way to find information about specific events, people and places—but it is also a wonderful way to gain insight into the culture of the times during which our ancestors lived.

Header from a newspaper section geared toward women (Ogden Standard, December 29, 1917, p. 22, via Chronicling America).

Header from a newspaper section geared toward women (Ogden Standard, December 29, 1917, p. 22, via Chronicling America).

An article featuring general tips for baking a cake (Marion Daily Mirror, April 15, 1911, p. 6, via Chronicling America).

An article featuring general tips for baking a cake (Marion Daily Mirror, April 15, 1911, p. 6, via Chronicling America).

One easy and fun way to find information about the domestic life of the 19th and early 20th century is by looking at newspapers available through Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’s free digital newspaper website. From the Marion Daily Mirror, you can learn the “Mysteries of Cake Baking”; in the Mt. Vernon Democratic Banner, read about the newest trends (as of 1918) in repurposing old materials to make new clothes; and in the Hillsboro News-Herald, learn how to play Edythe Wilson’s The Fortune Teller on piano.

Clipping from the Hillsboro News-Herald (January 12, 1905, p. 3, via Chronicling America).

Clipping from the Hillsboro News-Herald (January 12, 1905, p. 3, via Chronicling America).

There are over six million pages of historic American newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 available on this website, including over 200,000 pages from Ohio. That means countless articles related to household matters.   Wondering what sort of food your family might have prepared for dinner during the early 20th century? You can find that in the newspapers. Are you curious about what games they played at parties? You’ll find the answer to that question too. You can also learn what outfits were fashionable for spring, summer, fall and winter; gardening advice; cleaning tips; dancing instructions and more.

Click here to see one of these topics, recipes and cooking tips, featured in an Ohio Historical Society’s Chronicling America Search Strategy Video available through YouTube. In addition to showing you how to find recipes in Chronicling America, this short video will teach you why and when to use the proximity search option when performing other searches on the website. Be sure to check out the Recipes and Cooking Tips Subject Guide, available through the Ohio Digital Newspaper Portal Subject Guide Collection, for even more information.

Learn to dance the “‘Hesitation’…a variation of the Modern Waltz” (Washington Herald, June 21, 1914, Image 7, via Chronicling America).

Learn to dance the “‘Hesitation’…a variation of the Modern Waltz” (Washington Herald, June 21, 1914, Image 7, via Chronicling America).

The Chronicling America Search Strategy Videos  was developed by the Ohio Historical Society with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress  as part of the  National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio staff. Please visit the Ohio Digital Newspaper Portal for more information.

The National Digital Newspaper Program is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress and state projects to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. NEH awards support state projects to select and digitize historically significant titles that are aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress. As part of the project, the Ohio Historical Society contributed 200,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2012 and will contribute an additional 100,000 pages by the end of August 2014.

Jenni Salamon, Project Coordinator, NDNP-OH

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Curators Talks for January Take Visitors through Exhibits

Will you be visiting the Ohio History Center in January?

Be sure to join our curatorial staff for exhibit tours!

Time: 2 P.M.

Place: Meet on the Red Carpet area in the center of the Museum Floor

January 4
Faces of Appalachia: Photographs of Albert J. Ewing
Unidentified Young Woman, Albert Ewing Collection
New objects and photographs related to Albert Ewing and his family are now on exhibit. There is also a whole new selection of never before exhibited glass plate negatives. Join visual resources curator Lisa Wood for an exhibit tour that highlights these recent additions.

January 11
Transforming Ohio: Urbanization, Industrialization and Immigration in the late 1800s
Ohio: Centuries of Change
How did new machines, new people, and new ideas change Ohio in the late 1800s? Join history curator Cliff Eckle for a tour of the Ohio: Centuries of Change exhibit that explains how growing cities, improving technology, and social changes led Ohio to become an important manufacturing center.

January 18
What was Made in Ohio in the 1950s?
1950s: Building the American Dream
From refrigerators to paint-by-number kits there were many consumer products made in the Buckeye state in the 1950s. Join history curator Cameron Wood for a tour of the Lustron house that highlights the many things inside that were “Made in Ohio.”

January 25
Skeletons from the Ice Age
Nature of Ohio
How are mastodons and mammoths different? Which is the most like modern elephants? What kinds of animals lived in Ohio during the Ice Age? Learn more about the animal skeletons that we study to answer these questions with natural history curator David Dyer.

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Who’s Who of the Ohio Penitentiary (pre-1923 edition)

Scene at the Ohio Penitentiary Illustration (via Ohio Memory)

Scene at the Ohio Penitentiary Illustration (via Ohio Memory)

The Ohio Penitentiary saw many prisoners escorted into the confines of its stone walls with chains around their ankles, keeping them segregated from the rest of the world.  The prison held those who committed crimes as petty as theft or as egregious as cold-blooded murder responsible for their deeds by making the guilty pay penance for their wrong-doings.  The men, and women, who called this place “home” were not faceless beings but real people with interesting stories of their own.

Prisoner George How became a local “celebrity” after he was incarcerated for forging an order of 25-cents worth of tobacco.  Entering into a brand new prison, How found out about a $100 reward for any prisoner who could break out of this inescapable fortress.  It took him 24 hours.  Now on the run, bloodhounds were dispatched to track and catch up to the escaped convict.  The dogs did eventually find How, and the unlikely group became best friends.  He soon sold the dogs, however, to a local farmer to fund his escape to Michigan.  How would eventually be captured in Michigan where he demanded he be given his $100 reward for accomplishing the task put forth.  How was denied his money and later sued the county for his rightful earnings.  The suit was also denied, and he was given the limit of the law, serving the next 10 years in the Ohio Penitentiary.

Have you ever heard the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin?  How about the Pied Piper of the Ohio Penitentiary?  Prisoner Morgan McSweeney, convicted of killing a man in Washington County in 1898, was a gentle giant in prison.  Described as a “medieval hermit,” he spent his time with his rodent companions in the depths of The Pen while watching the wheels and pistons in the steam pump room.  McSweeney gave names to many of his whiskered friends, fed them, and let them come and go as they pleased.   It was estimated that he entertained over 200 rats at once with his peculiar whistle and had them so tame that they would “perch on his shoulder, delve into his pockets, and indulge in other familiar antics.”

If you have ever seen the movie “Inside Man,” you would know that one of the main characters, a bank robber, makes his escape by (Spoiler Alert!) walking out the front door.  In 1893, that’s exactly how two prisoners escaped the Ohio Penitentiary.  Charles Meyers, a pickpocket, and Thomas Wing, a burglar, climbed through the roof and broke into the warden’s apartment.  Once inside, they both put on suits belonging to the man charged with keeping the guilty inside the prison walls.  Now disguised, they were assumed to just be visitors, and the pair walked right out the front gate passed the guards.  It didn’t take long for someone to realize that the two had gone missing and were re-captured “after a lively chase of ten miles.”

Cupid’s arrow can strike anyone and anytime, even in the Ohio Penitentiary.  In 1873, Thomas Miles, serving a 2-year sentence for burglary in Licking County, entered the Ohio Penitentiary with Ann McFarland who had been convicted of being Miles’ accomplice.  After several months, Ann had started making inquiries to the guards about Thomas and his well-being.  Ann soon revealed her secret that she was, in fact, innocent and purposefully had herself convicted in order to remain close her lover, Thomas, during his incarceration.  On January 31, 1875, the day that the two prisoners were granted their release, a wedding was held in the prison chapel joining Thomas Miles and Ann McFarland (whose actual name turned out to be Nancy Jane Scott) in holy matrimony.  The guards even pitched in and bought the bride a wedding dress.

Drawing of Cassie Chadwick published in the Barbour County Index (January 4, 1905, image 7, col. 1 [via Chronicling America]).

Drawing of Cassie Chadwick published in the Barbour County Index (January 4, 1905, image 7, col. 1 [via Chronicling America]).

The Ohio Penitentiary also had its fair share of women prisoners.  One of their biggest “celebrities” was Ms. Cassie Chadwick, guilty of seven counts of forgery and seven counts of conspiracy.  Cassie Chadwick was actually one her of many aliases.  She was born Elizabeth Bigley, a resident of Ontario, Canada, and quickly entered a life of crime by committing her first act of forgery at the age of 14.  She was let off with a warning, but her criminal appetite could not be satisfied.  She was again arrested at the age of 22, but pleaded insanity and was let go.  She then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she would eventually be arrested for forgery again.  She would not escape without penalty this time, serving three years in the Ohio Penitentiary before being pardoned by Gov. William McKinley in 1891.  After release, she changed her name to “Cassie Hoover” before marrying Dr. Leroy Chadwick.  In 1897 she embarked on her crime that would make her infamous.  She tricked several Cleveland area banks into thinking that she was the illegitimate daughter of rich industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and was loaned between $10 and $20 million dollars.  She was finally exposed as a fraud in 1904 and sent to prison in 1906.  She arrived with trunks filled with clothes, jewelry, furniture, and photos, which was allowed due to her celebrity status.  She did not last long in prison, suffering from a nervous breakdown that left her blind.  She died on her birthday in 1907.

These are just a small sampling of the intriguing stories of Ohio Penitentiary prisoners.  All of these stories, and many more, can be found in Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’ digital newspaper database, as well as on Ohio Memory!

Kevin Latta, Quality Control Technician, NDNP-OH

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Unique Holiday Gift Ideas from OHS

usb-drive“Back Up” Stocking Stuffers

Looking for stocking stuffers for the student, researcher, or professional in your life? Instead of throwing another candy bar in that stocking – why not include an Ohio History 4GB USB drive? We can all use a little back up! Available for purchase in the Archives Library or the Ohio History Store for $9.36 plus tax.

OhioPixOhioPix for Historic Pictures

Ohio Presidents and Civil War generals? Historic views of Ohio cities? Ohio Stadium?

You can get pictures of those!

Order high quality reproductions of unique historic photographs from the Society’s extensive photographic archives. Online ordering is secure and seamless. Choose from high resolution digital files or photographic prints in a variety of sizes. Visit http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/ohiopix.

Please allow 1-2 weeks for shipping for photographic print orders. Need help ordering/determining an estimated arrival time? Contact the images team before ordering at images@ohiohistory.org.

archivalkit1OHS Family History Archival Kits

These kits contain high quality, professional-grade archival products appropriate for the long term storage of your treasured mementos. The kits contains: an archival storage box, white cotton gloves, letter size folders, 35mm slide sleeves to hold up to 100 slides, envelopes, polyester sleeves and acid free paper. All of these products are used by the Ohio Historical Society to house manuscripts and photographic materials in the archives.

Two kit sizes are available for purchase in the Ohio History Store for $37.50 or $52.50.

For questions, or further information about genealogy workshops, packages and merchandise, please contact the Ohio Historical Society at reference@ohiohistory.org or 614.297.2510.

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Who Was Samuel Medary?

Praised by Democrats, denigrated by Whigs and Republicans and a household name to all, Samuel Medary, the “Old Wheel-horse of Democracy”, was a 19th century newspaper publisher, politician and spokesperson for the Democratic Party in Ohio. Though he wore many hats throughout his lifetime, it was his journalistic endeavors that seemed to bring him the most acclaim…and infamy.

Portrait of Samuel Medary published in the New Ulm Review (September 1, 1909, Image 8, col. 1 [via Chronicling America]).

Portrait of Samuel Medary published in the New Ulm Review (September 1, 1909, Image 8, col. 1 [via Chronicling America]).


Medary, a native of Pennsylvania who moved to Bethel, Clermont County, Ohio in 1825, began his first paper, the Democratic Ohio Sun, in 1828. A staunch supporter of Andrew Jackson, its motto read “Unawed by the influence of the rich, the great or the noble, the people must be heard and respected.” Medary believed it was the responsibility of United States citizens to be informed of their nation’s happenings and be familiar enough with the Constitution to hold politicians and public servants accountable to its principles. He believed it was the responsibility of newspaper editors to help with these efforts (Krumm, 1978, pp. 42-44). This philosophy was reflected in his editorial style.

Within months, the paper, and Medary, had moved to the county seat of Batavia, where he began his political career. He served as both a representative and senator in the Ohio General Assembly throughout the mid-1830s and moved to the state capital, Columbus, in 1836. Two years later, he returned to journalism and began to edit the Ohio Statesman, the mouthpiece of the Ohio Democratic Party. The Statesman influenced newspapers around the state through its endorsement of Democratic candidates and policies, criticism of their Whig and Republican opponents and, for a time, position as the official state printer. This allowed Medary to “eschew advertising and to concentrate on political reportage, or, perhaps better put, political editorializing” (Krumm, 1978, p. 58). Medary was active in Democratic Party Conventions, both locally and nationally, and contributed to James Buchanan’s 1856 presidential nomination. His support of Buchanan led to his appointments as Territorial Governor of Minnesota in 1857 and of Kansas in 1858.

Excerpt from the Dayton Daily Empire, a fellow Copperhead newspaper, about the Crisis (November 20, 1863, Image 2, col. 2 [via Chronicling America]).

Excerpt from the Dayton Daily Empire, a fellow Copperhead newspaper, about the Crisis (November 20, 1863, Image 2, col. 2 [via Chronicling America]).


Medary returned to Columbus in 1860 and established a Copperhead (Peace Democrat) newspaper known as the Crisis. Lauded by the Dayton Daily Empire as “one of the best Democratic papers published in the West—or anywhere else”, the paper was comprised of editorials critical of President Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party and the Civil War. These views were widely unpopular in a state dominated by Republican sentiment. Even the editor of the still Democratic Ohio Statesman was at odds with Medary at one point: on October 24, 1861, the Holmes County Republican reported on “hostilities between the editors of the two Democratic papers published in [Columbus], which was inaugurated by a skirmish this morning, on State street, between Col. Medary…and Mat. Martin, Esq., editor of the Statesman”. Eventually, Medary’s controversial paper led to the destruction of his newspaper office by a mob of “indignant soldiers” on March 5, 1863. The offices of the Ohio Statesman were also attacked. The Statesman blamed “the Abolition papers and orators who constantly endeavor to inflame the people and lead them to acts of violence”; the Ohio State Journal, one of those so-named “Abolition papers”, denied this accusation vehemently, claiming these assertions were “utterly unfounded”.

The wheel of fortune that had once taken the “Old Wheel-horse” so high took him even lower the next year when he was arrested and charged with conspiracy against the government. He was said to have been connected to the “Thomas-Cathcart conspiracy”, a plot to release Confederate prisoners, including John Morgan, from Camp Chase. Medary’s case never went to trial as he died six months later on November 7, 1864. Democratic newspapers bemoaned his death, while some Republican newspapers barely gave it a mention. Despite his polarizing political ideas, a monument was erected in his honor in 1869 in Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus. The accompanying inscription reads “In commemoration of his public services, his private virtues, distinguished ability, and devotion to principle, this monument is erected by the Democracy of Ohio.”

After the death of Samuel Medary, the newspapermen of Columbus, including those of the Republican Ohio State Journal, gathered together to pass a resolution expressing their sympathy for his passing and honoring his accomplishments (Ohio State Journal, November 9, 1864, Page 3, col. 2 [via Ohio Memory]).

After the death of Samuel Medary, the newspapermen of Columbus, including those of the Republican Ohio State Journal, gathered together to pass a resolution expressing their sympathy for his passing and honoring his accomplishments (Ohio State Journal, November 9, 1864, Page 3, col. 2 [via Ohio Memory]).


Interested in learning more about Samuel Medary? Check out some of Ohio’s historic newspapers on Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’ digital newspaper database, and Ohio Memory! Papers from all over the country printed stories with varying opinions on this colorful character. For search tips and more information about this colorful character, see the Samuel Medary Subject Guide (available through the Ohio Digital Newspaper Portal).

For further reading, see (available in the Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library): Krumm, T. (1978). The Gethsemane factor: A historical portrait of Samuel Medary of Ohio and an analysis of the rhetorical dilemma of his Crisis years, 1861-1864. The Ohio State University: Columbus.

By Jenni Salamon, Project Coordinator, NDNP-OH

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George Bellows and His Ohio Roots

On November 8th and 9th I had the opportunity to attend the 7th Annual Art of Concern Symposium on American Art: George Bellows Revisited at the Columbus Museum of Art. Curator Melissa Wolfe took the symposium attendees on a tour of their new exhibition, George Bellows and the American Experience which includes some supplementary material from the OHS Archives/Library.

George Bellows was born on August 19, 1882 in Columbus, Ohio. His father was an architect and a builder who designed some of Columbus’s landmark buildings, including the Ohio School for the Deaf. Bellows grew up in the prominent neighborhood of Olde Towne East in a house his father designed. He attended Central High School and then, under pressure from his father, went on to attend the Ohio State University. Bellows had a summer job drawing cartoons for the Columbus Dispatch and contributed drawings to Ohio State’s Makio yearbook. He studied under Columbus artist Silas Martin at Ohio State among other professors. However, he quickly realized he did not want to pursue an architectural degree. Though his father was not supportive initially, Bellows moved to New York City to study art.

Artist's box used later in his career by George Bellows.

Artist’s box used later in his career by George Bellows; from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.


While in New York City, Bellows studied under fellow Ohio born artist Robert Henri. Bellows quickly became one of the most promising artists in the city known for his urban scenes, portraits, and realistic images of everyday life. Bellows became a full academician at the National Academy of Design, the youngest painter to ever do so. Revered by many, Bellows continued to push artistic limits in his critiques of life during the 1910s and 1920s. Sadly, Bellows passed away at the age of 43 of appendicitis.

Lithograph by George Bellows titled "The Charge," from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.

Lithograph by George Bellows titled “The Charge,” from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.


The Ohio Historical Society is fortunate to own a lithograph created by Bellows (H 52824) and the artist’s box (H 52829). The lithograph, entitled The Charge, was part of a series created by Bellows expressing his disdain for German war crimes he read about during World War I. In the lithograph, Bellows depicts a bloody battlefield scene taking place during a charge in the trenches. An artist’s box that he used later in his career was donated to OHS by one of his granddaughters.

The Society also holds several paintings by Bellows’ former teacher, Silas Martin. In the Archives/Library is a manuscript collection from the Pen and Pencil Club, of which Bellows was a member. He did not participate in many club gatherings after he moved to New York City, but did contribute pieces to their art shows.

Detail of lithograph by George Bellows titled "The Charge."  It depicts a violent image of World War I trench warfare.

Detail of lithograph by George Bellows titled “The Charge.” It depicts a violent image of World War I trench warfare.


Have you seen the exhibition yet at the Columbus Museum of Art?

What lasting impact do you think Bellows has had on Ohio art?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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