Upper Arlington News

Map owned by UA's first mayor goes on display at library


One of the earliest-known maps of what would become a cornerstone of Upper Arlington and its history was placed on display this week at the Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch.

Following a nearly yearlong restoration project, the Upper Arlington Historical Society installed a map that once belonged to James T. Miller in the stairwell to the lower level of the UAPL's main branch, 2800 Tremont Road.

The map dates back to 1891 and represents Marble Cliff Farm, the 840-acre estate on which Miller lived before he sold it to UA founders Ben and King Thompson for $1 per acre in December 1913.

The map was donated about four years ago to the historical society by Miller's granddaughter, Esther Miller. It is expected to be on permanent display at the library after a $2,500 grant from the Upper Arlington Rotary allowed for its restoration.

"That's an area we know as Old Arlington today," said Melanie Circle Brown, historical society executive director.

She said the map is "a treasure."

"There's just nothing like it. It's irreplaceable and it's historically significant," Brown said.

After the map was donated and the grant was provided for its restoration, former historical society executive director Kate Kallmes drove it to Oberlin, Ohio, where it was repaired by SCCS Conservation.

"When we received it, the map was ripped and creased and very brittle," Brown said. "We couldn't unroll it because we were afraid it would be damaged further. It had a linen backing that was completely damaged from bugs, the environment and mold."

Brown said SCCS Conservation flattened the map using weights and a humidifying process.

The company also cleaned the map, replaced its backing and repaired tears throughout the document.

After a return drive to UA, once again courtesy of Kallmes, the map was framed using materials designed to block out ultraviolet light and protect its integrity.

Those who view the piece, Brown said, not only will witness a document owned by UA's first mayor and representing land that became a premier central Ohio community, but also can see the area's road network circa the 19th century.

"(U.S. Route) 33 is identified as Dublin Pike," she said. "It's oriented at the bottom of the map, and that's Fifth Avenue."

In addition to the donation from Esther Miller, Brown said an integral part of Upper Arlington's history could not have been shared with the public if not for the UA Rotary Club's support -- which also allowed the historical society to purchase new software for its digital archives -- and that of the UA library.

"We've had it, but we didn't have the funds to properly restore it," Brown said. "That's where the UA Rotary comes in. It's truly a community treasure, and (the UA Rotary) made that possible for everyone to enjoy."

Brown said the historical society also has obtained a map owned by the Thompson brothers that's dated January 1914, one year after Miller sold the farm to them.

She said the second map shows the early stages of street development in the community, and the historical society plans to display it once funds are obtained to restore it.