The city, the Upper Arlington Historical Society and UA Public Library will hold an old-fashion ice cream social in Miller Park from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 7, to dedicate the permanent installation of a carriage step once used at the James T. Miller farm.
The carriage step is just north of the entrance to the Miller Park Library, near an existing Ohio historical marker. The afternoon will include performances by Upper Arlington High School's Vocal Ensemble, comments from city leaders and other guests and other activities.
The carriage step, according to historical society executive director Melanie Circle Brown, is an artifact from horse-and-buggy days. Such steps assisted travelers as they stepped in and out of buggies, or as they mounted and dismounted from horses.
The one installed at Miller Park comes from the 1,000-acre farm James T. Miller owned that now is home to First Community Village near the intersection of Riverside Drive and West Fifth Avenue.
Miller, Upper Arlington's first mayor from 1918 to 1919, sold 840 acres of the farm to developers King and Ben Thompson in 1913, becoming the first part of Upper Arlington to be developed.
When the Miller farm was sold, Miller's granddaughter, Esther Miller, lived with her family for a time on Cambridge Boulevard in a home across the street from what now is Miller Park.
Esther saved the family carriage step and eventually donated it to the historical society before she died in January 2015, Brown said.
"Esther was a big historian, a lover of history and a lover of Upper Arlington," Brown said.
"She retrieved and saved the step. We thought it would be perfect to display as a permanent artifact at Miller Park."
The carriage step is installed next to a sign noting its origins and on top of bricks the historical society retained from a trolley line that used to run along Arlington Avenue.
The bricks were manufactured by Nelsonville Block and Hocking Block in Nelsonville during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Miller Park Library Branch Manager Kate Albers credited Brown with being a "driving force" behind the carriage step project, but noted its installation is the culmination of a collaboration among Brown, Upper Arlington City Forester Steve Cothrel and the library.
"Several months ago, Steve Cothrel, Melanie Brown and I met, and decided that the step would be a valuable addition to Miller Park, the park honoring the Miller Family name," Albers said.
"We felt that the best location was next to the historic marker that shares information about the history of the area and includes information specifically about the Miller family.
"We believe the step and the information about the Miller family will be a great addition and will add a piece of history to Miller Park to be enjoyed by all of our community."
Brown said she hopes the pieces will serve to educate the public about the community's heritage.
She also hopes the ice cream social May 7 will serve to bring the community together and to honor Esther's "aunties," who frequently held similar events.
"We hope that seeing something tangible like the step can bring history to life," Brown said.
"(Esther) used to say, 'Before Upper Arlington was a city, it was a village. It was small enough that families knew each other and they knew each other's dogs,' " Brown added. "We're trying to build that sense of community."