History Center 2015

by Leslie Wagner, Historian

The history department is proud to display its exhibits for the year: the Japanese Garden, Rufus and Ephraim Dawes, Heisey Glass collection of Bertie Dawes and Tree Dedicator Johnny Clem.

The Japanese Garden 50th anniversary makes a great reason to create an exhibit about the Arboretum’s most popular garden.  While looking through our collections, I noticed we didn’t have much.  Pictures and paperwork was all that was saved, so I had to get creative.  The most interesting artifacts we had were the original blueprints of the garden done by architect Dr. Makoto Nakamura in 1963.  To fit this period, I put together a drafting work station that an architect from the early 1960s would have used.  Maintenance had the table and tools, I had the prints and photos, and voilà!

Civil War heroes Rufus and Ephraim Dawes (our cofounder Beman’s father and uncle) are well-known amongst war historians but probably not by our visitors.  Many great artifacts belonging to the two are in our collections, ranging from artwork to their uniform coats.  The Dawes family considers the brothers one of the highlights of their ancestral roots, and the popularity of Civil War artifacts should make a crowd-pleasing exhibit.

Cofounder Bertie Dawes collected Heisey Glass produced right here in Newark.  Her favorite line included a peacock etching, as Bertie collected peacock items her entire life.  I’m no Heisey expert, so I called on curator/director Jack Burriss from the Heisey Glass Museum to help identify the pieces with dates and patters.  He also had a great idea to set up the glassware like a luncheon, which is likely how Bertie used her pieces.  The glass from this exhibit will go on loan to the Heisey Glass Museum after our exhibit is over for another great display featuring Bertie’s pieces.

Johnny Clem is quite well known in the Newark area, but did you know he dedicated a tree here in 1930?  Beman Dawes has asked men and women of importance to dedicated trees on our grounds starting in 1927.  This exhibit will not only show Clem’s bravery and accomplishments during the Civil War, but also show how Clem became a tree dedicator.  To help tell Clem’s story, four items are on loan from the Licking County Historical Society.

The exhibits are on display in the History Center behind the Daweswood House Museum from May through October.  Open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm-3pm.  Photography is not allowed in the exhibit space.