Heritage Hall Museum




Exhibit showing until October, 2010

The new Heritage Hall exhibit entitled “Frederick G. Mueller and the Hamilton Municipal Building”  opened April 30, 2010.  The former Municipal Building, renamed the Frederick G. Mueller Building in 2008, is 75 years old this year.  It is now the home to Heritage Hall and the Robert McCloskey Museum, as well as Hamilton’s BizTech Center.

Sam Ashworth has done a masterful job of researching and presenting the exhibit to the public.  The exhibit highlights the work of architect Frederick G. Mueller in Hamilton and the surrounding area, with a focus on one of his signature works, the former Municipal Building.  Mueller was one of the leading architects in the community during the prosperous 1920’s.

Mueller was born in 1873 and raised on Buckeye Street in Hamilton.  He attended the prestigious Armour Institute.  The Hamilton city building was commissioned in 1933 and completed in 1935.  The art deco building cost $411,175 to construct under the Federal Public Works Administration.

Bas-reliefs carved into the side of the building, depicting historical scenes from Hamilton, were created by 19-year-old Robert McCloskey.  The Robert McCloskey Museum is housed in the building

The exhibit features photographs and artifacts from the planning stages through the building dedication.  Original architectural drawings as well as a number of artifacts from Mueller’s office and prestigious career are also on display.

The firm that Frederick G. Mueller started continues in operation today in his hometown of Hamilton, Ohio as SHP leading Design, one of the few remaining architectural firms in the United States still operating after 100 years.  The committee thanks Mike Dingeldein of SHP Leading Design for his help in collecting items for this display and their sponsorship of the exhibit.

See this exhibit permanently displayed on the third floor of Heritage Hall at this time.

Jim Blount speaker at October event.

    On April 27, 2012, Heritage Hall opened a new exhibit entitled “When Butler county Went To War”.  Continuing with our current focus on World War II, this exhibit examined Butler County’s participation in the war effort.  The display features striking photographs and detailed information about the home front manufacturing, rationing, and life in Butler County during the war years.  This display provides an opportunity for the community to learn more about how Butler County played an important role helping the United States and her Allies win World War II.

   The story of World War II is usually told in terms of battles lost and won.  This exhibit has a very different focus.  Through the use of photographs and artifacts, “When Butler County Went To War” tells the story of our county in the Second World War in terms of the work men and women were doing in factories and workshops, on farms and in the fields, as well as in homes and gardens of our community. If the battle on the home front had not been won, there would have been no victory.

    Artifacts to be on display are from the collections of the Butler County Historical Society, the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument and the personal collection of Brandon Soale and Roger Miller.

    Museum Curator, Brandon Soale designed and created the display which will be open every Friday and Saturday from now until November.  The exhibit is open to the public and admission is free.

Part of the Mueller display with original            

            Mueller drafting table

Some of the buildings in Butler County that Mueller designed during the 1920’s to the 40’s.

Millstones & Milestones:  19th Century Hamilton Industries

Sam Ashworth has designed an exhibit that opened at Heritage Hall in October 2010 titled “Millstones & Milestones: 19th Century Hamilton Industries”.  The exhibit traces manufacturers operating in the city from the turn of the century back to the area’s early agricultural based industries.  In the years that followed the settling of the area, and even before Butler County was platted, saw mills and grist mills operated on small streams and rivers.  Grist mills ground grains such as wheat, rye, oat, and  barley into flower.  When the Hamilton & Rossville Hydraulic Company opened the hydraulic in 1845, it became a cheap source of water power.  Several small industries were built along the hydraulic in the 1840’s.  One example was the Miami Paper Mill, later known as the Beckett Paper Company.  The hydraulic powered many other Hamilton industries throughout the 1870’s and helped trigger the expansion that led to large Hamilton corporations like Mosler, Niles, Champion, Shuler and Benninghofen, and Long, Black & Alstatter.  Paper products, textiles, safe and agricultural implement industries were flourishing in Hamilton in 1900.  The new exhibit highlights the changes that made this transition possible. 

Display was seen at Heritage Hall, Oct. 2010
Jim Blount speaker at October 22nd Event

Local Author and Historian Jim Blount was the featured speaker in the Council Chambers October 22, 2010.  
The focus of his lecture was Hamilton’s Industrial Heritage.  Several resources and decisions led Hamilton from a flatboat economy to slogans that recognized the city as “Known in the World’s Markets” and “The Postmark of Distinctive Trademarks” and a reputation as one of the nation’s most productive industrial centers during World War II.  
According to Mr. Blount “It was more than location that led to Hamilton’s status as ‘the greatest manufacturing city of equal size in all the world’ at the start of the 20th century.  Entrepreneurs and far-sighted citizens promoted infrastructure improvements and other amenities that attracted industry and business and created jobs in the city.

Dr. Allan Winkler was the speaker

   for the Heritage Hall program       

            April 27th, 2012

The Butler Boys: Butler County in

the Civil War

    The 2011 Spring exhibit at Heritage Hall highlights Butler County’s involvement in the Civil War.  The exhibit coincides with the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.  The Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015) provides an opportunity for us to rediscover the many ways citizens of Butler County played a key role in the war, and how the conflict changed life in Ohio and in the United States.  Civil war History touches every county in the state and the new exhibit “Butler Boys: Butler County in the Civil War” has been created for these interested in the vast and fascinating history of Butler County during that time period.

    Featured in the exhibit are campaigns and battles in which soldiers  from Butler County participated, and leaders who emerged from the struggle to have an impact on our county.  The exhibit also features a timeline of events from 1863 to 1865 and artifacts from the collections of the Butler County Historical Society, the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneer Monument and the personal civil war collection of Dave Casper.

    Once again Sam Ashworth has done a terrific job of putting this exhibit together for another history highlight of Butler County.  Please come and enjoy learning about the American Civil War.

    On November 4th 2011, Heritage Hall opened a new exhibit called The Art of War: Posters From the Second World War.  During World War II the United States government attempted to capture the public’s attention with posters.  People might have chosen not to attend movies or listen to the radio but they could not ignore these decorative images intended to convey clear message about the role of the American citizen during World War II.  Wartime posters were designed to grab attention and be easily understood.  The urgent circumstances of war required home front citizens to adjust their daily peace-time routines.  Government officials understood that inducing behavior changes would not be easy; they relied on a massive publicity campaign which included posters to reach the public with wartime messages.  The posters on display convey messages about the vital need for food conservation, rationed goods, labor, safety, enlistment and the danger of careless talk.  After the rise of the advertising industry in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Advertising Council worked directly with the government to influence soldiers, citizens, housewives, factory workers, farmers, and children. 

    Brandon Soale, Heritage Hall curator, designed the exhibit with the help of the Butler County Historical Society.

    Come see these colorful posters and World War II artifacts.  They will be displayed until April of 2012 when the exhibit will continue the World War II theme with more and different articles and posters from the war.

The Art of War:

Posters From the Second World War

      Poster Art from World War II Display

The panel for opening night included veterans who served in different branches of service, held different ranks and were stationed in various theaters of operations throughout the war.  United States Air Force veteran Robert L. Cottrell moderated the panel using patriotic music  and World War II facts to add to the enlightenment and enjoyment of those attending.  The program began at 7:00 pm in the former council chambers of the Frederick G. Mueller Building.

Opening Night Veterans Panel Discussion- Nov. 2011

Panelists from left to right are: Mr. Harry L. Mehl, an enlisted Marine on the battleship Tennessee, Mr. Frank Vice, a submariner in the pacific theatre, Mr. Charles Maxfield served as a US Army captain in North Africa and retired a colonel,  Mr. William L. Merritt, an Army Air Force captain stationed in Europe, Mr. Dan Antenen, a pfc with the 20th Armored division of the US Army.

    When Butler County Went To War

            Exhibit open until November, 2012

    Dr. Winkler is Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University.  He has also taught at Yale University and the University of Oregon and, for one year each, at the University of Helsinki in Finland, the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and University of Nairobi in Kenya. A prize-winning teacher, he is the author of ten books.  He is also co-author of the college textbook, The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society and the high school textbook, America: Pathways to the Present.  His most recent work, Home Front U.S.A.: America during World War II, 3rd edition just became available at the end of March.

    Dr. Winkler spoke on “Selling the War: World War II Propaganda”.  He explored the role propaganda played in the war effort.  Setting the stage for the program, Dr. Winkler visually showed how Germany conquered country after country when the war began.  The U.S. entered the war after Pearl Harbor and the appetite of the American people for war was encouraged by the propaganda posters put out mainly by the government. 

Sacred Spaces

The 1913 Flood: Shadow Over the Miami Valley

The premier showing of this documentary created by Sam Ashworth was April 26, 2013 at Heritage Hall.  The historical societies including Heritage Hall will have copies of the film for sale. There will also be copies distributed to the schools which will include a booklet detailing how to incorporate the story of the flood into lesson plans.

The Destruction of Industrial Hamilton During the 1913 Flood

Exhibit will be open until November, 2013 with special additions in April

    In March of 1913, it had been raining over much of the Ohio and Miami Valleys everyday for a week.  By Tuesday morning, March 25th, the enormous amount of rainfall swelled the Miami River into a raging torrent.  Hamilton had reached its largest recorded flood height of 23’ 9”. 

    A rush of water swept away bridges, buildings and viaducts covering towns along the river with water a depth of four to twenty feet.  The flood water swept on, covering miles of country and cutting off the cities of Middletown and Hamilton from the outside world.   Hundreds of people drowned in their homes or as they fled.  Hamilton was the hardest hit.  More than 200 people perished, 2,000 homes were so badly damaged they had to be demolished, 10,000 people were left homeless and many businesses, factories, schools, and churches were damaged.

    As we approach 2013, Heritage Hall is participating in a city wide effort to observe the centennial of what was the most disastrous flood in Ohio history.  We have selected photographs from more than a thousand prints documenting the damage the flood visited upon Hamilton. Heritage Hall’s focus is on local industry and the damage companies such as Niles Tool Works, the Gedge-Gray Co., Long and Allstatter and Chapion Paper sustained among others.

    The exhibit will be on display in the main hall of the Mueller building.  Brandon Soale, curator of the museum, designed and facilitated the display.

Title of the program given by Kathy Creighton, Nov. 2, 2012

Kathy Creighton, Executive Director for the Butler County Historical Society was the featured speaker Nov. 2, 2012 explaining the disastrous effects of the 1913 flood.  She told stories drawn from several interesting primary sources. 

This documentary features over 500 flood photos and film clips supplied by historical societies from each city, including first hand accounts of the flood.  TV Hamilton will be airing this documentary after all flood programs are finished.


    The new Heritage Hall exhibit features information and artifacts from Hamilton’s historic churches, temples and synagogues.  “Sacred Spaces” officially opened to the public on Friday, November 1, 2013.  The contributions made by religious congregations occupy an important place in the historical record of our city.  From the clearing of the wilderness at the founding of Hamilton to the modern city of today, churches worked together for the good of the people. 

    Congregations needing a place to meet gathered together and built many unique and interesting buildings throughout the city.  From the simple Front Street Presbyterian church where the pioneers of Hamilton first met in 1810 to the ornate gothic style St Julie Billiart Church that came 100 years later.  Hamilton has a treasure-trove of beautiful structures that many take for granted.  The exhibit was designed by Curator Brandon Soale, and focuses on the architecture of historic sacred spaces.  Visit Heritage Hall for a rare opportunity to view photographs, artist renderings and artifacts from some of the city’s oldest remaining church buildings.  The exhibit will remain up until March of 2014.

Zion Lutheran Church, built in 1865 by German Immigrants.

Miami University Distinguished Professor Peter Williams

    Religion In Hamilton; A History Through Architecture was the title of  the talk given by Dr. Williams at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1st in the council chambers on the third floor of the Frederick G. Mueller building.  His talk included many slides of churches built in Hamilton in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  He said we can tell what the denominations of churches are through reading the architecture. 

    Dr. Williams is a graduate of Harvard College, he received his Ph. D. in religious studies from Yale University.  Williams has taught courses on American religious and cultural history at Miami University, where he holds the titles of Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and American Studies and Faculty Affiliate in History. 

    For several years he served as Miami’s Director of the Program in American Studies and Chair of the Department of Comparative Religion and he continues to teach part-time since his retirement in 2010.  Heritage Hall was pleased to host his talk.



2014 Robert McCloskey Centennial Programs For    

     Children, Teens &



Thank you for attending our programs!

Pictures of our year of the McCloskey Centennial celebration

Programs sponsored by Heritage Hall, the Lane Libraries, the Michael J. Colligan History Project, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Hamilton schools and the Hamilton Community foundation