Sunday, August 26, 2012

Merry Olde Mariemont

Dexter Waits for a Tour of Mariemont Village
      I planted my Cincinnati roots in Madison Place 26 years ago after falling in love with Mariemont, and soon realizing I couldn't afford a home there.  The planned community (one of only a few in the U.S.) was the vision of Mary Emery in the early 1900's, and is based on a typical English village.  The detailed tudor structures are evident in the town centers (both old and new) as well as those homes originally constructed in
the village.  The town square is complete with its own version of a roundabout and formal garden for people watching.  
Some of the Original Homes
on Sheldon Close
      All of this began when Mary Emery became fed up with the poor housing and congestion in the city which she felt could be eliminated by the principles of town planning.  Named after her summer home in Rhode Island, Mariemont began when Emery acquired 420 acres and employed the top 25 architects in the country along with town planner John Nolen to begin construction in 1923.  Of course, the irony of Mariemont is that it was constructed for moderate income families, but was so charming everyone wanted to live there thus driving the prices up.
The Mariemont Inn
      I had lunch at the National Exemplar one day with Paul and decided to wander into some of the new businesses as well as some old favorites.  By the way…the National Exemplar should be a model formula for all restaurants.  It's a Gem!  (See our previous post from July 2011.)  It is located in the Mariemont Inn, a four star hotel completely renovated with the latest conveniences and still sporting the look of an English country inn. Don't miss the talking buffalo head above the lobby entrance…a must for all ages. 

Lolli's Boutique
       My first stop was across Madisonville Road at Lolli's, a shop full of unique women's accessories, gifts, and home furnishings beautifully displayed.  Leah Osgood, the owner, has plenty of work experience in national retail stores so knowing what the customer fancies combines well with her taste level.  If you're searching for something special, this would be a good place to start.  Moving next door to 
The Villager
The Villager is a 180º turn in aesthetics.  It's what I refer to as a millennium version of Woolworth's.  There's a large kid's section, card shop, home and women's accessories, gifts, even a limited service post office.  It's a place that you walk around with a smile on your face.  I could, however, live without seeing another Vera Bradley outpost.  For dining, the rest of Madisonville Road offers a LaRosa's Pizza takeout and Mio's Italian fare.

Mariemont Square
      Walking toward the square, you'll find the Mariemont Theatre showing commercial and independent movies.  Flanking it is The Quarter Bistro serving dinner and Sunday Brunch, and CIncinnati's own Graeter's Ice Cream (although it's now made in Columbus).  A re-imagined Hugo (2012 top ten restaurant) is slated to open on the square after closing its original space in March.  The shift will be to more casual fare. 

Outdoor Seating at Mariemont Strand
Pomegranite & Lime
      From there, I moved to the other side of the Mariemont Inn known as The Strand.  It's a two story newer structure that is home to Starbucks and the Dilly Deli.  My first encounter with the Dllly Deli was when it was near the Old Town Center and it was much smaller, but still was one of the first places to offer outdoor dining.  It was another selling point for my move to the area.  Today, it occupies a substantial outdoor dining space encompassing a fireplace and entertainment on the weekends.  Indoors, you'll find more dining space and a superb wine shop with excellent service and suggestions.  Moving along Wooster Pike is Pomegranate & Lime, a boutique featuring gifts and accessories for women, men, and babies.  Further down
Lollibean's Organic Baby Store
The Strand is Murphy Brown and Me (everything for dogs) combined with Lollibean's (everything organic for babies).  Not a conventional combo, but nevertheless an incubator for the father/daughter team of Donald Lang and Sarah Bollman who both started online businesses and decided to share expenses to try out a physical store space.  Both businesses are growing with the anticipation that each will sprout into its own space soon.  Murphy Brown and Me features dog beds, supplement nutrition, and unique accessories, toys and apparel for man's best friend.  Lollibean's focuses on everything organic for the baby from furniture to cloth diapers.  They're one of only a few places to find the diapers and exclusive all natural accessories for making the process an easy one.  They're both growing niches that appears to be working well for them.   We wish them luck!  If women's designer and boutique fashions are your thing, then visit Sara Benjamins and One Mode also located on Wooster Pike.

Carillon Tower

      Leaving the commercial center of the village and driving on Wooster Pike toward Cincinnati, take any of the side streets on the left to wander into the residential area.  You'll also find the Carillon Tower featuring live concerts every Sunday afternoon in the summers.

Community Church
Old Town Center
On the right side of the pike, you'll find the nondenominational Community Church built entirely of stone brought over from England.  It is located along the Old Town Center, which is mostly inhabited by design studios today.  There are some

One of the Homes Near the Old Town Center
great examples of stone and Tudor homes adjacent to the shops with the early apartment buildings constructed for the village spreading in both directions.

Dexter Strolls Past the New Condos Near Mariemont Square

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