This view of the downtown crossroads of Louisville is not all that complimentary. However, having at least a few old brick buildings with a bit of class lining the streets looked much better in real life! On my drives into Louisville I noticed that the houses were all very well-kept with beautiful lawns and many large old trees throughout the city - the community looked affluent.
Louisville was founded in 1834 by immigrants from Germany and France and was named Lewisville after a son of the German immigrant. However, the name had to be changed to Louisville three years later when they found out their previous name had already been registered by the Ohio post office system. By 1872 the population had grown to 800, transforming the community into a village which continued to prosper - thanks to numerous industries. Its first paved streets came in 1913 and by the 1950s, when the population of the community passed the 8,000 mark, the village became a city (what ever happened to 'towns'?). The present population is just under 9,000.
If you have some time to spend, both Louisville itself and the surrounding countryside look like interesting places in which to do some exploring. I did not really have enough time to fully check out the attractions of either Alliance or Louisville.
I had enjoyed the forested nature of the rolling countryside of Ohio as I drove down from Cleveland, so when I wrapped up my first day at the transformer plant in Louisville (my 'OTBP' tip), I decided to take a 'scenic' route back to Alliance. To tell the truth, I never even looked at my map - just headed straight out into the countryside on Highway 173 instead of turning for the main highway I had driven in on.
It was quite enjoyable, not much traffic and with pleasant hills and large trees dotting the landscape as I took my time cruising along. This scene out the front windshield shows what you will see straight ahead, but it looks nicer out to the sides! All those large chestnut and poplar trees may look beautiful, but they ended up contributing to the August, 2003 North American power blackout - the worst in history (see my 'General' tip for the details)! I quite enjoyed this little drive back to my hotel even though I ended up getting lost and caught in the worst lightning storm I've seen in a long time.
By far, the most impressive thing I saw in this part of Ohio was Glamorgan Castle, an amazing relic of a by-gone era when grand estates were built on European models by the 'new-rich' barons of American industrialism. When I heard that I would be making a business trip that would involve staying in Alliance, I checked out the VT website to see what the members had to say - and I will have to credit VT-member 'Buckeye4u' with awakening me to the fact that such a structure existed there!
Construction on Glamorgan Castle began in 1904, thanks to the efforts of local businessman William Henry Morgan who named it after his father's birthplace in Wales. In keeping with his engineering instincts and with lots of cash to play with, Morgan did not skimp on the construction details for this mansion on a 50-acre plot of land. His architects were first sent to Europe to check out the most impressive building styles and then work began on what was to become Glamorgan Castle. With a hundred tons of structural steel underpinning it all, ninety-six railcar loads of Vermont marble is what you see when you gaze on this structure. The Morgan family moved in after the first year of construction, even though it took $400,000 and until 1909 before work was completed.
Although it looked like a castle of old and was built just as solidly, Glamorgan Castle had the most modern amenities of the time - such as bowling alleys, a billiard room and a large swimming pool in the basement. It also did not hurt that their staff included a butler, upstairs and downstairs maids, a gardener and a chauffeur. I arrived on the scene late on the afternoon of my first day in Alliance and took a clockwise walk around its exterior - taking these photos as I went. Just as I completed my circular walk, splatters of rain began to fall and there were cracks of thunder to be heard as I made a dash for the car.
These views give a glimpse or two of the beauty of the grounds surrounding Glamorgan Castle, including large mature trees, decorative ponds, old brick driveways and neatly laid out plans for the lawns. It took quite a bit of doing to achieve these views because, after being rained out on my first day I came back on the second day but, by then, a tremendous rain, wind and lightning storm was in full swing. My final chance arose on my last day in town when I was able to sneak in these photos from the street before leaving for Cleveland. The other mansions along this street are worth a good look themselves - but time was of the essence for me.
But back to Glamorgan itself, William Henry Morgan was the son of a Welsh immigrant who established himself in heavy equipment during the 1880s - including the world's first electric overhead travelling cranes, as well as punching and shearing equipment and heavy gun carriages for the military. The Morgan Engineering Company enjoyed great success and its reins eventually passed to W.H. Morgan in 1897 upon his father's death. W. H. Morgan himself died in 1928, just before the Great Depression, and the estate was subsequently sold to the Elks Lodge in 1939 for $25,000. Today, thanks to a $774,350 preservation grant that allowed the Alliance City Schools to purchase the castle and 20.5 acres of land in 1973, the building houses the school district's central administrative offices. It is open for tours but they close at 4 PM - before I could get there.