Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Mariemont boathouse is being restored

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MARIEMONT — The restoration of the village's boathouse, at Pleasant Avenue and Wooster Pike, opens up a treasury of childhood memories for Virginia Conover, 83.

        She and her friends used to go there in their teens, to get a boat and go rowing on a lagoon that stretched about a mile from the boathouse to the southwest corner of Dogwood Park.

        “We didn't have to pay anything,” she recalled. “But we had to have three or four boys or at least a couple of strong girls to do the rowing.”

        That was almost 70 years ago, when the boathouse held a special place in the culture of this east-side village. No one wanted to see the end of that piece of Mariemont: gliding across a lagoon in the moonlight in the summer and ice-skating on it in the winter.

        But in 1942, the lagoon dried up and was filled with dirt. And for the last half century, the boathouse has been used as a meeting place for Boy Scout troops.

        Today, the boathouse is being refurbished as a part of the village 75th anniversary restoration project.

        Mrs. Conover is glad.

        “It holds a lot of pleasant memories,” said Mrs. Conover. “I can't imagine bringing it back to what it was in my teens, but just to recapture and restore some of its splendor is marvelous.”

        When finished, the boathouse will serve as headquarters for a nature trail in Dogwood Park, said former Councilwoman Christina Beatty, project coordinator.

        “It will also be available for small meeting groups,” Mrs. Beatty said.

        The restoration project also includes:

        • Clearing out a nature trail.

        • Building an open pavilion in Dogwood Park to commemorate Indians who lived there from 1400 to 1600.

        • Developing a public garden on the median of Wooster Pike, which is the main street through the village.

        “This year will be the conclusion of the restoration project, which started in 1998,” said Millard Rogers, president of the Mariemont Restoration Foundation. “We have $600,000 from many sources for this project. The main contribution came from the Thomas J. Emery Memorial Foundation.”

        Workers have completed the exterior of the boathouse building, putting in drainage pipes and stone steps along a curved wall.

        Mr. Rogers said they will begin placing imported stones from Wales on the roof this week.

        “These are actual stones. They are 10 inches by 6 inches and will be placed on the roof like the scales on an armadillo,” Mr. Rogers said.


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