Monday, June 18, 2012

Warther Museum, Dover OH

Since I was a kid, one of my favorite places to visit was the Warther Museum in eastern Ohio.  It is made of the home, garden, workshop, and knife factory of the Warther family.  The museum is open 9-5, 7 days a week, but closed major holidays. Admission is $13 for adults, $5 for kids aged 7-17, and ages 6 and under are free.  It's worth the price and the trip.  Trust me.


Ernest and Freida Warther settled here about 100 years ago and bought a very sloped plot of land on the edge of town and started building their home.  While he worked full days in a local factory, and she began the business of raising their growing family, together they began steadily building up the land into a suitable place for gardens and children.  In his free time in his tiny workshop, Ernest carved and assembled some of the most elaborate train models.  Freida collected Indian arrowheads they found in the surrounding area and buttons.

Their collections are mind-blowing.  My Father-in-Law is a well-known maker of model railroads, but Ernest Warther leaves him in the dust.  After your visit, you will want to throw your TV in the trash because you will realize just how much of your life you are wasting.


This is Sam and his favorite model, which was carved entirely from ivory.  The bridge it sits on is ebony with inlaid ivory "mortar."  Above hang examples of the materials he had to work with.


This is the largest engine model, Patrick's favorite, carved from walnut and inlaid with ivory and ivory parts.  The lettering laid into the stand is also ivory.


Miriam and a model of ebony and ivory.  You can see there are many other models in the background.


Nicholas favored the dynamic factory (one of two he built from memory) where Ernest Warther spent dozens of years pressing sheet metal.  It's made of walnut and ivory and has moving parts and people.


My favorite display showed how he made his models.  First he checked out the schematics of engines from libraries, then carved EACH. INDIVIDUAL. PIECE. TO SCALE. and then assembled them into a full model. HOLY CRAP.  The man was a genius.


Here's more proof of his genius above.  Those chains and frames and canes were carved from single pieces of wood.  The canes had cages built into them with balls inside- all from a single piece of wood.


Sam and the Funeral Train of Abraham Lincoln, made of ebony and ivory.


Here's the workshop where he made everything, start to finish.  Frieda arranged arrowheads they found in decorative patterns.


Just some of Frieda's button collections.


The land that they bought as practically a cliff they terraced themselves, one wheelbarrow at a time.  Ernest built a playhouse for their 5 children into a stone wall they built at the top.  Children from all over the town would play on their fantastic playground and tree swing.


I can't remember how or why this caboose came to be there, but it was fun to climb on.

In addition to all there is to see in the house and museum, there is the family knife factory, which was closed as we were there on a Sunday.  In working with all those heavy woods and the delicate ivory, Warther decided he needed better knives than ones he could buy, so he made his own and the family still makes them today.  Warther knives are awesome.  My grandmother has had several for over 60 years, and they are still super sharp.

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