If you’ve visited the Ohio History Center recently, you may have noticed that part of the exhibit “Ohio: Centuries of Change” is now closed. This area, which we lovingly refer to as the History Mall, is undergoing some much-needed maintenance to replace old water pipes and update the lighting. Though we are sad to see this section on 20th century Ohio history go, we are excited about using some of the displaced objects in new exhibits throughout the Ohio History Center.
One of my favorite objects in the history collections, the Winton automobile (catalog number H 30477), is one of the objects that had to be removed from the History Mall. The Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, Ohio, manufactured this motorized carriage-form automobile in 1899. This car is literally a horse-less carriage: it looks exactly like a carriage, except it has an engine in the back. Scottish immigrant Alexander Winton (1860-1932) organized the Winton Motor Carriage Company on March 15, 1897. He previously manufactured bicycles in Cleveland, Ohio, but by the mid-1890s, Winton became interested in designing an automobile. He built his first motorized vehicle in 1896 using bicycle tires, and on March 24, 1898, made the first commercial sale of an automobile in the United States.
The Winton in our collection had the privilege of being the first automobile used in Columbus, Ohio. E. T. Mithoff gave it to his grandson, Campbell Chittenden, and his new wife, Alice Fitch Chittenden, as a wedding present. The newlyweds used the automobile on their honeymoon. Can you imagine seeing a car roll down High Street in downtown Columbus for the first time? And can you imagine riding in this car with everyone on the street stopping to stare at you?
Luckily, you’ll still be able to see the fabulous Winton automobile at the Ohio History Center. It and the Seneca automobile, the GOHIO gas pump and the tire-making machine have all been moved upstairs to the plaza level. This was no small feat! Check out the photos of our riggers carefully unloading the Winton and maneuvering it through the doors.
These objects join the mail wagon, the Lola racing car, the Alliance ARGO airplane and the Aeronca C-2 airplane on the Ohio History Center’s plaza level. New text for the exhibit will be coming soon. Be sure to stop in and check out the changes and updates we’ve made throughout the museum!
Becky Odom, History Curator