Group of Dublin women walk to enjoy the views and build friendships
Originally published in DublinLife Magazine, June/July 2023 by Colleen D’Angelo
If a home in Bridge Park is like a shiny new coin, then a house in Historic Dublin is like a rare Indian Head Penny: difficult to find, and treasured by those who own one.
Today, the City of Dublin recognizes the importance of Dublin’s history and aims to protect the overall character of the city by emphasizing the preservation of architectural styles, details, and streetscape elements.
Recently I was introduced to several ladies who live in Historic Dublin and call themselves Women Who Walk. Nancy Monahan started the group in 1986 and the friends have been strolling together every day since.
“I love to connect people to one another who share common interests, and welcome newcomers to the group,” Nancy says.
I joined the group on a chilly Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., dressed in my hat and gloves, even though it was late April. We began our trek along South Riverview, aptly named for the view of the Scioto River.
We passed several homes under construction and many with historic markers reading, “This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.”
The street has one charming home after another, some with porch swings and others with rocking chairs, reminding one of a quieter time in life filled with reflection and conversation.
Much of the limestone masonry on the hoes and walls surrounding the properties was mined from local quarries. Some of the walls date back to the 19th century and are a testament to the strength of the stone.
Even the new construction tries to blend in by using stone fronts and porches, meeting the desired character of the community. The zoning codes are strict, but with good reason, as is evident by the incredible renovations taking place.
As we walked, Mary Ann Schmitt pointed out her beautiful home and the house right next door where her son and daughter-in-law live. Properties rarely go on the market here as they are frequently passed on to family or sold to friends. To find your special home in Historic Dublin is a matter of timing and perseverance,
Dublin Mayor Jane Fox also lives in the area with her husband, Dr. Thomas Fox. They built their home in 1991 and kept the original stone garage, and tried to incorporate that design throughout the rest of the home.
Jane was invited by Nancy Monahan to join Women Who Walk in 1992 and has been strolling with them ever since.
“I like that we walk at a pedestrian pace so we can really appreciate all of the changes with the seasons,” Jane says.
Continuing on our journey we went over South High Street and into the parking lot of the Dublin Community Church. The ladies recognized Kevin Langden, who was carrying canned goods into the Dublin Food Pantry.
“The pantry looks as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard,” Kevin says.
That led us to chat for a while about why there is such a lack of food right now and what could be done about it.
Once we were done, the Dublin Cemetery, which was established in July 1858, was our next destination.
The cemetery was designed to be a park, where visits can pay their respects to the deceased and amble along the tree-lined paths. Jane says on some chilly mornings, there is an icy mist that hovers in the air over the gravestones, and occasionally there are spotted fawns in the spring.
We continued in stride, discussing recent favorite books and travel destinations. Together, the ladies have helped one another through births, illnesses, deaths, divorce, graduations, marriages, children, and grandchildren.
“If someone is down, we pick them up and help out with meals or transportation or whatever they need,” Nancy says.
“It is a therapy group where we solve all of the world’s problems on our walks,” Jane says.
Seventeen women have been part of the group throughout the years and the most recent addition is Karen Strauss. She and her husband, Karl, moved to Dublin six months ago from Toledo to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren who live in Grandview.
They bought the downtown property in 2019 and hired Susan and Bob Dyas of the Epic Group to build their dream home. Unfortunately, in June 2020 when the house was two-thirds of the way complete, lightning struck their home and burned it down.
“There were a lot of tears,” Karen says, “but ultimately Historic Dublin was meant to be our home so we started the rebuild and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.”
All of the Women Who Walk talked about how much they enjoy the walkability of the area. They stroll to the library, restaurants, farmers’ markets, and even Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
On the morning we walked, the ladies continued to a birthday breakfast, waving to local business owners who they know by first names, celebrating friendships both old and new.