Mudhouse Mansion

One of my favorite road trips was to Mudhouse Mansion.  This road trip is the one that set the standard for all others.  I know, sounds odd, but it’s true.  To understand me, you should know a few things.  I love cemeteries.  And old things.  And abandoned buildings.  And ice cream.   This trip had all of that…and more.  This is how it all began…

I have the bad habit of getting tangled up in the web.  If I see/hear about or find something cool, I end up researching it like crazy, which means I’m sure to stumble upon something else, which makes me research the crap out of THAT….and the next thing you know the husband is asking what’s for dinner.  What?  I seriously JUST sat down to drink my morning coffee.  That’s how I found Mudhouse Mansion.  One of my employees introduced me to Grave Addiction (link is under my favorites).  I love the old headstones…the design and love that is put into them is amazing.  On the flip side, it can also be very sad to see the ones that are very simple…just names and dates.  On that website, Forgotten Ohio was mentioned.  Wow.  This was like putting me in the middle of a candy store!!!  Stories and pictures of a TON of abandoned buildings and places in Ohio.  That, of course, lead me to other states with abandoned stuff…see what happens to me?!?!?!?!?!

Anyway, there are some really cool places in Ohio that are abandoned.  Some freak me out so bad that I am fine just to read about them….some are torn down…..others….well…I.  Must.  See.  And take pictures…..tons of pictures!!!  There’s the Knox County Poorhouse (been in that one when it was a haunted house…it would creep me out without all the theatrics),  Chippewa Lake Park (old amusement park…been there), The Lima Tuberculosis Hospital (on my list), The Ridges Tuberculosis Ward (At OU…been there, they tore it down recently), Moonville Tunnel (going this Spring when we do our cabin weekend with my son).  And then there is Mudhouse.

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Every time I look at pictures of this place or even when I went back there for a second visit, I always think about what a grand and stately home this was back in it’s day.  Beautiful.  And so sad that it now sits empty and in total disrepair.  It is still owned by the same family that purchased it back in 1919.  You can go to forgottenoh.com and read about all the people who have trespassed onto the property to get a look inside, and the legal troubles that followed, or you can read about it supposedly being haunted by a slave that escaped and murdered the entire family or about the lady that owns it and keeps  a close eye on it.  I had no desire to trespass onto private property, being arrested scares me too much.  I just wanted to SEE it.  I have a couple friends (C & L) that like this stuff too…..so I set out to plan a road trip down there.  My 9 year old decided she wanted in on the fun.

The date was set….the Mapbook was marked.  It’s about 2 hours away from me.  We decided that since we were taking the scenic route, we would pack a cooler and find a park to have lunch at.  We were leaving at 8am.  My husband thought we were crazy to drive that far for an abandoned house.  Now don’t get me wrong, he likes going for drives as much as I do, but he really had no interest in an old house.  At first.  C & L arrived a little before 8.  We moved stuff from their car to the mini-van, packed the cooler, made sure we had The Mapbook..and 3-4 cameras……and could not stop talking about how excited we were to be going.  The more we talked about it, the more interested the husband became.  C & L had found an old cemetery that was on our way down there…..next to an Amish farm.  It was just a little off the beaten path…but that’s ok, that’s what road trips are made of.  We also packed big sheets of paper and charcoal…for headstone rubbings (good idea, but I got the charcoal all over me…I quit early).  So here we are, talking and carrying on about the trip….next thing you know, he wants to go.  We told him No…he didn’t want to go with us from the beginning…and even made fun of us a little bit about it.  This was a girls only road trip.  I started to back out of the driveway.  And, I kid you not, he hung his head down like a little boy, slumped his shoulders, and s  l  o  w  l  y  walked towards the front door.  C turns to me and says….”Are you kidding??  You have to let him go….he looks too sad!!”   So, we packed him into the back row of seats, and told him he couldn’t talk…couldn’t complain….couldn’t comment on my driving….couldn’t ask if we were there yet….couldn’t ask when we were going home…….and couldn’t whine.  We “shushed” him quite a bit that day.

We hit the cemetery, spend about an hour there and get back on the highway.  Well, Route 13, because we were doing the scenic route.  We’re enjoying the scenery as we pass Lanning’s Market.  We make a note to stop there on the way back…..they have the best steaks.  Then we come across one of the most awesome things I have seen in a long time.  Ye Olde Mill.  Doesn’t sound too interesting…until you realize it is the home of Velvet Ice Cream.  And it is SUMMER.  All is right in the world.  As crazy as it sounds, we did not stop….BUT….we make a note to stop here on our way back as well.  The poor Mapbook is going to take a beating today.  We wanted to make sure we had enough time to spend at Mudhouse Mansion.  We still have a little way to go…about an hour maybe.  Of course we found something else to stop at.  Dawes Arboretum.  Wow.  Circle it in the Mapbook!!! We CANNOT stop here now…we will stop on our way back!!  I don’t even know what time it is, I just know we are getting closer and closer.  And we are excited.  Like going to Disney World excited.  We stop at a little convenience store not far from the house (potty break).  We all laugh because they are still so very proud that Joe Biden had stopped there at some point.  We find out it was during the campaign…so 2008.  They are so proud, they keep “Welcome Mr. Biden” on the reader board out front.  We are soooooooooo close now…and it is killing us.  We hit the road again….and turn down Mudhouse Road.  Seriously, at this point I am inching along so I “don’t miss it”.  We crest a small hill….and there she is!!  We were  a) “Disney World” excited…on a caffeine high  b) glad for the potty break  c) giddy.  Yes, we were giddy.  Giddy two year olds.  I think I clapped at the excitement of seeing it.  I had read about this place for a couple of years.  And there it was.  Right.  In.  Front.  Of.  Us.  Beautiful…and sad.  Even the husband was excited.  You would have thought we had won the lottery.   We stopped the car…piled out…and started taking pictures.  A lot of pictures.  C had a very nice camera that still took film.  The kind you have to actually take some where and get developed.  But it took The BEST pictures.  But she ran out of film.  No lie.  We had to go in to town and get more film.  Which was not an easy task.  But hey, there’s a Tim Horton’s…so that made it ok.  I cannot even guess how many pictures we took.  There were so many taken you would think there was a celebrity there.  Even the husband grabbed a camera.  After every possible camera angle was taken, and even a different view from a side road….we decided it was time to head back home.  We did not step foot on the property, just stayed on the road and admired it from afar (sounds romantic that way).  We hung out with the buzzards that were sitting in the trees…..kid you not, there was at least 8 of them.  Not sure if they were watching for food…or eyeing us.

Our first stop on the way back is Dawes.  What a gem.  I never knew this place existed.  It’s mission is to increase the love and knowledge of trees, history and the natural world.  Not a bad mission to live by.  They have Japanese gardens, a log cabin, the Daweswood House/Museum, buckeye trees, a lake, a viewing tower to see the shrub art….and a bald cypress swamp.  Google it.  Bald Cypress Roots.  Go ahead, I will wait.  Check out the pictures.  Pretty cool stuff right there.  Never knew those existed either.  See….thirst for knowledge.

It is a beautiful and peaceful place.  We are on the viewing tower overlooking the lake…and the huge shrubs that spell out DAWES ARBORETUM.  We have gone back a couple of times.  Love it there….a lot like Kingwood Center back here at home.

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Back in the mini-van we go…..we have two more stops to make…and we still haven’t had lunch….and it’s 3:30!  Destination Uttica.  I don’t even know what time we rolled into the parking lot here, but I know what my Mom taught me…no ice cream till you eat all your dinner.  So, this is where we decided to eat lunch.  At the ice cream factory.  They have a pavilion with picnic tables…this was our view:

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On the left is where they make the ice cream.  Velvet Ice Cream.  Yes, they really make it there.  Yes, you can walk into the white building and watch them make/package it.  Yes, you can lick the window…but you can’t taste anything.  At least that is what I’ve heard……

Ye Olde Mill is on the right.  It has a little museum in there where you can see all the different ways they used to make ice cream.  There is another little building with a video of the company history playing.  Do you see the lighter brown brick?  On the other side of the brick is heaven.  Or what might appear to be heaven.  If you like ice cream (Who DOESN’T?!?!?!).  They have flavors I could never dream of…and some you can’t get in the grocery stores.  They will even let you try a little bit before you make the big decision.  They have your normal chocolate…..vanilla….butter pecan…and frozen banana?!?!  YES PLEASE!!!!  Oh, wait….what the heck is Kettle Korn Ice Cream??  Seriously Velvet…have you gone too far?  That’s gotta be gross.  Kind of like the buttered popcorn jelly beans.  Sorry…can’t stand ’em.  So the kind man in the ice cream parlor says….”Have you TRIED it?”.  Negative, ghostrider.  He says…you really need to try it….(I’ve heard that before, didn’t turn out well).  He then explains to me that it is special because it was made specifically for the Ohio State Fair.  The fair board invites Velvet to create a new flavor every year just for the fair.  This year (2009), they came up with Kettle Korn.  I think their heads have brain freeze.   But, who am I to say no to ice cream?  He hands me the little spoon….and I am hooked.  Oh sweet dairy….what is this creation?!?!?!?!  It’s got popcorn in it for sure….but there is carmel in there somewhere too!!  Everyone else got their normal, boring ice cream….I was in heaven…and wouldn’t shut up about it!!!  My husband finished his 8 scoops of chocolate ice cream, decided to have a taste of mine…and was hooked!  He ate 2 (TWO) ice cream cones that day.  Are ya kidding me???  I gained the weight for him.  This has become our favorite.  The problem was, they don’t sell it in the stores.  And they only sell it in the 3 gallon ‘drums’.  Two weeks later, me and the husband had to drive back down there for the Big One.  I got 2 bowls out of it…..my husband ate the rest.  Again, I gained the weight for him.  They did not make any this year, so we are sad.  For the 2013 State Fair, Velvet made Maple Bacon Ice Cream.  We refrained from going down there last year.  Probably a good thing.

Our bellies full, we pile into the mini-van again…it’s started to feel like the Mystery Machine.  It’s a mystery when we will get home.  And the husband is afraid to ask.  Next stop…Lanning’s Market.  Just for the steaks.  It is a quick stop compared to the other ones.  They have a really good beef ball dip, if you ever go.  The calories/weight is all on you.

We had to make one more stop.  The majority of L’s family is buried in a cemetery in this area, so we must find it.  Good thing…we found it….bad thing…we found another one too.  (The other one was REAL old…REAL COOL).

This is me.  At 8pm.  12 hours after we hit the road.  My mouth is not wide open because I am scared.

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We set off for one reason: Mudhouse Mansion.  Mission accomplished….and so much more.  The worst thing about this road trip……we ran out of day light.