Upper Arlington News

Residents asked to share Tremont Center memories

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An Upper Arlington landmark will be the featured topic for the first of what local history enthusiasts hope will be regular forums to remember and celebrate community heritage.

The Upper Arlington Historical Society is inviting community members to share memories, photographs and other artifacts related to the Tremont Center June 19 at the Amelita Mirolo Barn at Sunny 95 Park, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane.

The meeting, to be held at 7 p.m., will start what the historical society hopes will become quarterly gatherings in which Upper Arlington residents and others with ties to the community will share stories and mementos connected to local sites, people and events.

"The nice thing about the meeting at the Barn is it will be open to the public," said Kate Kallmes, Upper Arlington Historical Society executive director.

Kallmes noted the historical society last year selected the Tremont Center clock -- said to be one of only a few four-sided clocks still in operation in Ohio -- as its logo.

She said the June 19 meeting not only will serve as a chance for people to meet historical society governors and learn about membership and volunteer opportunities, but also to reflect on a storied piece of local history.

"The Tremont Center is a central place in the community and everybody knows it," she said. "We just thought it would be nice to focus on it. It should be a fun, casual event."

According to information provided by Sara Klein, digital collections coordinator for the Upper Arlington Public Library, the Tremont Center was established in 1954.

It was home to King Gibson Thompson's Upper Arlington Co., and the center and its historic clock still are owned by Thompson's descendants.

Among other Tremont Center historic facts provided by Klein:

* The Chef-O-Nette restaurant, still in operation today, opened in the center in 1955.

* From 1955 through 1959, the Tremont Branch of what was then the Grandview Heights Public Library System was located in the Tremont Center. All of the books were moved across the street when the current library building was constructed at 2800 Tremont Road in 1959. In 1967, the Upper Arlington Public Library System was created, and the building at 2800 Tremont Road became its Main Library location.

* In the mid-1950s, Tremont Center had a landscaped courtyard, complete with a waterfall fountain and exotic birds, including peacocks, within its fenced borders.

* Street clocks such as the one at Tremont Center were once ubiquitous on main streets throughout America from the late-1800s through the mid-1900s. They served a practical purpose by keeping the time but were also used as advertising tools by the businesses that commissioned them.

* The clock was commissioned in the 1920s by jeweler H.J. Heimberger, who moved the clock from its downtown Columbus location to Tremont Center in the 1950s.

The four-faced Seth Thomas clock weighs more than 1,000 pounds and is one of few originals left in Ohio. It was maintained for more than 25 years by Tremont Center jeweler John Proicou.

"We want to get people's memories and get those compiled," said Charlie Groezinger, Upper Arlington Historical Society president. "We're talking about having quarterly get-togethers and this meeting is to kick that off.

"We're also trying to get more exposure any time we can. In the past, the historical society has been a pretty well-kept secret and we want to change that."

In addition to chronicling Tremont Center stories and other memories, Kallmes said the historical society is interested to see what photos and artifacts people from the community have. In some cases, the organization might wish to photograph the items to include in its archives.

"Our new photo exhibit, 'Now & Then,' also is up at the Barn and people can see that," she said. "It's also an opportunity for people to sign up for (historic society) activities and it's a good chance for them to get involved or meet our board."

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