The Piqua Tourism Council, in cooperation with the Local History department of the Piqua Public Library and Mainstreet Piqua have teamed up to offer five different walking tours of Piqua to occur this spring and fall. The tour series starts on Saturday, March 19 with the Piqua Industrialists Tour. The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Ash & Caldwell Streets and will focus on the Piqua Caldwell Historic District. The grand mansions of Piqua were built by union suit makers, California Gold rush investors, merchants and politicians. They reflect an era of prosperity and a time without income taxes. With architectural styles as varied as Second Empire, Empress Anne, Colonial Revival and Chateauesque, these homes reflect an era of servants and massive spaces suitable for large social gatherings. This guided tour highlights the changing lifestyles of the community’s successful business owners. This will be an exclusively exterior tour.
The next tour will be held on Saturday, April 16 and it is entitled Commerce, Community & Comradery. The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Wood & South Downing Streets. Piqua’s neighborhoods were once dotted with corner grocery stores and retail establishments with deep roots in their area. This walking tour will focus on how these businesses impacted their neighborhoods and contributed to the quality of life and social structure of the areas they served.
The final spring tour will be the History of Transportation in Piqua and will be held on Saturday, May 21 at 10:30 a.m. at Lock 9 Park. The canal flowed through the downtown area from 1837 to 1913 on its way north to Toledo and south to Cincinnati. Parts of Lock Nine are still visible in the city park located between the canal route and the Great Miami River. A guided tour along the former path of the canal shows how the canal era buildings faced toward the canal and away from Main Street. The rear entrances of solid brick stores show evidence of how goods were lifted off the canal books and swung into second floor storage areas. Also learn about the growth of the street network in Piqua and impact of interstate 75 on the community.
The Forest Hill Cemetery Tour will be held on Saturday, September 24 at 10:30 a.m. and will begin at the main Broadway Street entrance at the office. Opened in 1868, Forest Hill gradually absorbed all but two area cemeteries. The winding paths pass gentle hills, trees and natural growth that induce a sense of peace and tranquility. Civil War monuments, markers of artistic beauty and tombstones marking disasters and sorrow make this an interesting tour and a great break from a long day of travel. Guides will provide interesting stories and poignant memories of from over 150 years of community history.
The final tour will focus on the Fountain Park Area and will be held on Saturday, October 15, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The tour begins at the main (center) entrance of Fountain Park. The walking tour will explore the history of Fountain Park, Chautauqua and Hance Pavilion. Many of the Queen Anne Style homes were built to take advantage of the natural beauty of the park. This will be a gentle walk that is generally ADA compliant.
Tickets are available for the tours at $5.00 each. Tickets may be purchased at the Mainstreet Piqua office at 326 North Main. The tours will be led by Piqua historian Jim Oda. This project is sponsored by the Piqua Tourism Council with additional assistance from Mainstreet Piqua and the Piqua Public Library. Call Mainstreet Piqua at 773-9355 for additional information.