Westcott House to debut virtual tour series of Springfield landmarks

A modified version of one of Springfield’s long-running and popular interactive summer series will go online starting this week.

The Westcott Center for Architecture + Design’s Virtual Tour Series will debut at noon Wednesday, Aug. 19 on Westcott House social media sites. This will take the place of the annual Summer Tour Series that explores the city’s unique architecture and sometimes outside it, but was unable to be offered this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Given the Westcott House’s success with several interactive videos in recent months, this was an obvious progression. The eight-week series will offer four to five-minute-long videos focusing on a certain aspect of a unique location. The first installment will explore Mast Castle’s library.

“We want to keep the brand similar, to honor the legacy of our tours,” said Kevin Rose, a local historian who is leading the project with wife Marta Wojcik, executive director of the Westcott House, and others. “These will be like mini documentaries, a lot of fun. People are there to experience it. This will be like dropping into a tour for four or five minutes.”

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There were about 14 subjects that Rose whittled down to eight. Some subjects are still being finalized. While the research is there, getting enough photos and video to go along with it are the challenge with limited or no access due to social distancing and pandemic precautions at certain locations.

He stresses that while the videos may seem short in length, they’ll be packed with content.

“We don’t just scratch the surface, we go in depth. We’ve dug through archives and gotten dusty to gather new info,” Rose said, laughing.

When someone views the Mast Castle library segment, they’ll learn about how it was one of Ohio’s great example of the Aesthetic Movement of the time. The hope is to get people more curious about not just that area but the whole castle and other similar structures.

Another week, a stained window at Christ Episcopal Church will be the focus. While stained glass windows are common in churches, this virtual tour will talk about the artist who designed it, Robert Metcalf, who was from Springfield and became one of the country’s stained glass experts.

The series will also go live once or twice, with Rose and Wojcik highlighting the architecture of Charles Creager, who designed what is now the Heritage Center of Clark County and St. Raphael Church one one occasion.

“This will highlight something beautiful in our community each week and that people can go see on their own,” said Wojcik. “The beauty is it also reaches people outside of Springfield. We want those people to have a perception of our unique community.”

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A Zoom question and answer session will also be available to Westcott House members. The organization is always accepting memberships.

Rose also likes the flexibility of the format.

“We put these out at lunchtime on Wednesday, but you can watch them at 2 a.m. or at 10 a.m. with your coffee, over the next few months or even a year from now,” he said.

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