June 2008 Issue
Preserving the Past
Tour Ohio’s Best Hometowns - Bowling Green
It’s hard to imagine that the tranquil, tree-lined streets of Bowling Green were once part of the Great Black Swamp: dark, mucky wetlands that stretched from the western end of Lake Erie to northeastern Indiana. When settlers drained the land in the mid-to-late 1800s, they discovered some of the most agriculturally productive soil in the country — a rich resource for what grew to be a farming community.
Bowling Green’s heritage is chronicled at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, housed in the former Wood County Infirmary that operated as a working farm for the poor from 1869 to 1971. The museum’s exhibits illustrate the years before the city’s first settler, Elisha Martindale, claimed the land in 1832, and educate guests about the Ottawa, Shawnee and Miami Indian tribes who called this region their home from as early as the late 1600s until the 1830s.
For a look at the more recent past, get your motor running at Snook’s Dream Cars, where auto enthusiasts can see vehicles that ruled the roads from the 1930s to the 1960s. Don’t let the word museum fool you: Snook’s cars are housed inside a re-created 1940s-era Texaco gas station, against backdrops portraying Bowling Green’s past. Snook’s also showcases 40 years of automobile accessories and memorabilia from the personal collection of owners Bill Snook and his son, Jeff — hanging dice included.
Feeling a little sluggish? Refuel at the Stone Ridge Golf Club’s restaurant, Traditions Grille. Surrounded by six lakes and lush greens, the restaurant offers dishes such as Steak Salad a la Renee, mixed greens tossed with pecans, red onion, cucumbers, roma tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese and raspberry vinaigrette, topped with julienned grilled sirloin. Afterward, tee off at the 18-hole course designed by Arthur Hills, whose résumé also includes Nashport’s Longaberger Golf Club and Lebanon’s Shaker Run Golf Club.
Once you’re rejuvenated, lace up your sneakers and hit the downtown streets of Bowling Green for a self-guided walking tour (maps are available at the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau, 119 E. Court St.) through the historic Boomtown and Main Street districts. Since 1987, the Boomtown Historic District has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The centerpiece of the 1.67-mile walking tour is the collection of nearly 100 historic residences. A stroll through the Main Street Historic District reveals late-19th- and early-20th-century architectural gems, such as the Wood County Courthouse and The Nearing House, home of former Wood County Court Judge Charles Nearing.
Next, splurge on one of the items offered at Bowling Green’s downtown boutiques. Discover a one-of-a-kind gift at For Keeps, find a funky purse to accentuate your wardrobe at Diversity Boutique or purchase an elegant frame for your cherished photograph at Ben Franklin Variety and Crafts.
There’s no better time than now to visit this Best Hometown. The city celebrates its terquasquicentennial (175th anniversary) this year. “We are having a great time celebrating community and reminding citizens, old and new, of our heritage,” says Mayor John Quinn.