Shakespeare in the Park

The lovely Robin and I spent this evening in Eden Park (home of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park, etc.) at a free performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, staged by members of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

It was a delightful performance, with a five-minute intermission. Rain threatened--we felt a few drops, but that was all. We had front row seats until our dear friends (and former Cobbleheads) Ryan and Sarah Schilling showed up, and they sat on a blanket right in front of us. We also had the blessing of sitting with former Cobblehead Marc LeRoux, whose bride, Lauren Shively (also a former Cobblehead) was in the company (that's her at the far right of the stage in the photo above). (We also feel cool because we had the privilege of marrying both those couples!).

We loved the performance and the setting (the Seasongood Pavilion always brings back memories; I remember it as the scene of Easter Sunrise Services in my childhood and teen years). The adaptation and staging was imaginative, the six actors were excellent, the comedy was effective, and the text wasn't too shabby, either.

Eight more performances remain in this Summer's Shakespeare in the Park schedule (check it out here): four more of A Midsummer Night's Dream and four of Hamlet. And they're all free. You can't beat the price. And I've long been a fan of these folks and their productions.

Southern Charm, Hospitality, and History

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a hot and humid whirlwind visit to Charleston, South Carolina, last weekend. We were there for the wedding of Brittany Lillibridge to B.J. Lester (and a beautiful and blessed event it was!).

Charleston is the home of The Citadel (above), the military college of South Carolina, and the site of the wedding (see my Desperate Pastor blog for a posting about Summerall Chapel, where the wedding was held).

It is sometimes called "The Holy City," for the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape, particularly the numerous steeples which dot the city's skyline, and for the fact that it was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance, albeit restricted to non-catholics. Above is the French Huguenots Church at Church and Queen Street, founded in approximately 1681 by Huguenot refugees from the Protestant persecutions in France (some of these churches will be featured in coming weeks on the Monday "Church of the Week" feature on my Desperate Pastor blog).

We were blessed to stay at the Mills House Hotel in the old town of Charleston (originally named Charles Towne, for King Charles II, in 1680), and I enjoyed a Saturday morning stroll up and down scenic Meeting Street (above), which is lined by venerable mansions (see below) and beautiful churches. At frequent places along the street, women were set up, weaving and selling their handmade sweetgrass baskets.

The terminus of my walk was The Battery, the point of the Charleston peninsula, bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.

Fort Sumter is visible from the Cooper River side, and a park known as White Point Gardens (below) shades this pleasant spot.

I wish I had had time to tour the beautiful Calhoun Mansion (named not for favorite son John C. Calhoun, but for his grandson, who inherited the house in the early twentieth century):

The Calhoun Mansion is the largest in Charleston, has 35 rooms, a grand ballroom, japanese water gardens, 35 fireplaces, 75 foot high domed stairhall ceiling, khoi ponds, private elevator, three levels of piazzas, ornate chandeliers, and a 90 foot cupola....more than 24,000 square feet! Built by George Walton Williams, a Charleston businessman and humanitarian who wanted to revive Charleston while Union soldiers occupied the city in 1876, it remains a private residence today.

Charleston exudes Southern charm, hospitality, and history. In spite of the all-too-characteristic heat and humidity, we left reluctantly, plotting a return visit as soon as possible.

Historic Mills House Hotel

On our recent whirlwind trip to Charleston, South Carolina, our gracious hosts (and dear friends) booked us in the historic Mills House Hotel, the only hotel in Charleston's Museum Mile.

Originally built in 1853 by entrepreneur Otis Mills and designed by architect John E. Earle, this hotel’s prime location was chosen for its proximity to the nearby market, businesses and grand homes. When it opened its doors in November of 1853, it boasted a wrought-iron balcony imported from Philadelphia, terra-cotta window cornices from New England and conveniences liked steam heat and running water.

Through the years, The Mills House, a jewel among Charleston South Carolina hotels, has been host to many distinguished guests including General Robert E. Lee during the Democratic National Convention in 1860 and Theodore Roosevelt during the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in 1901-1902. After changing hands through the 1900s and surviving a fire in 1939, the interior of the Mills House Hotel underwent a complete renovation in the 1970. Although the original height was left intact, the building was divided into seven levels (I was also told the wrought-iron balcony is original).

I loved the hotel's location on Meeting Street. I took a walk Saturday morning to the Circular Congregational Church (and three or four other historic churches), the John C. Calhoun Mansion, numerous historic homes, all the way to The Battery and Charleston Harbor.

It was a lovely stay, in a distinctive hotel, in a breathtaking city.

Wholly Enjoyable Indianapolis

Earlier this week (Wednesday and Thursday), I had the joy of spending a couple days with my fellow Cobblestone staff members in Indianapolis, while attending the North American Christian Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center. We stayed at the Hilton right downtown (my roommate was Andrew Holzworth, who made me sleep on a rollaway bed while HE luxuriated in the room's king size bed).

The Indianapolis Hilton is situated just a block from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (which has an observation deck in the tower):

And half a block in the opposite direction is the Indiana Statehouse (below), built in 1888, the fifth building to house the state government. I would have loved to have had the chance to enter and see a little of the inside of this building, but our schedule was just a tad too packed.

We did, however, on a lunch break on Wednesday, have time to walk a few blocks for lunch in the Wholesale District:

Our whirlwind visit to Indianapolis was wholly enjoyable, in every way, and made a return visit to the area very attractive.