The door today is on a house located on West William Street close to Curtis Street which runs perpendicular to the house. It almost seems like Curtis would run straight into the surrounding wooded area. The house disguised by the woods “hides” the possible past home of a famous Delaware, Ohio family.
The house is currently painted gray, has black details and a Victorian front door. The porch which leads up to the door is decorated with white painted lattice work which I generally say may be found on “gingerbread houses.”
The white door may not be the original door. It has four small windows at the top of this rather tall door. It has three sets of panels with wooden strips framing them, all painted white.
Again, picture a gray house, black outlines and white details. A door which seems looming in size, with more details seen close up than far away.
I wonder if the famous family had a taller male as head of household?
Do Victorian homes tend to have taller doors?
I would need a step stool to decorate around this door with strings of leaves on a vine, which I had done on my last home. I like the idea of getting this house ready for Halloween.
In September, I would hang a grape vine wreath on this door. It would have golden silk sunflowers with a pretty ribbon of fall colors coming to a bow at the bottom.
The door recently seen, has no decoration on it. The large picture window, opening over the porch, has many panes outlined with black painted wood strips. The woodwork has some cracks in the paint once you climb the five steps onto the porch.
The curtains were a deep blue which held anything behind them “hostage” in the hidden recesses.
A closer look shows a small placard with a wooden frame. It reveals the past homeowners. It is not on a historical registry. It was a stop along the road of many stops chosen by a film director who had one singular famous wife and child.
The outstanding porch chandelier which on a snowy night was lit, had caught my eyes.
It seemed to beckon visitors. It may have meant the house was ready for company. I imagined a long lost family member, errant but expected to return.
It is the crystal chandelier which is the only sign this is a special house. It distinguished the house and set it apart. The door doesn’t have a door knob, it has one of those handles with a curlicue at the base. It looks like it is painted black but this makes me wonder.
Would stripping the black paint off reveal brass?
I was driving past this house often, back in 1991 and 1992. My good friend and fellow single mother, Lori, had 3 children close to the same ages as mine. She lived about ten houses from this lovely, old house.
The house once the light was left on, shone through the bare wooded area surrounding this home set back from a busy road.
Had the light not been shining brightly with the way crystal reflects, especially on snow and icicles hanging from the porch roof . . .
Had one of my children asked me a question, taking my mind off looking at the scenery while driving a slow paced 30 miles per hour down this snow covered familiar road . . .
I may have missed seeing this home. I may have not realized it’s “lineage.” So many times houses are missed due to their location.
The porch has a pair of white worn rocking chairs. They have left grooves on the worn gray painted wooden planks on the porch floor.
* 311 North Washington Street, Delaware, Ohio 43015
has the privelege of being a house on a hill which was designated the inspiration for “Meet Me at St. Louis,” a film Vincente Minnelli directed in 1944.
When I suggested to my friend, Lori, that we walk down the sidewalk and head west from her house to Trick or Treat, she thought this was a great idea. We usually piled into her van and went to one of the nearby neighborhoods. Houses close by, easier to go up and down short driveways had been our plan a few years in a row. She had moved from a smaller house in one such neighborhood and on this particular long time past Halloween, now lived in an older, bigger place.
We got to the Vincent Minneli house around dark, it had taken us 45 minutes to cover 9 houses. These older homes have gracious hosts with kind offers to sit on edges of porches and eat marshmallow rice krispie squares, caramel apples and frosted cookies. Apple cider, Kool Aid and water pitchers poured into paper cups, to wash down the sugary treats.
When we got to the beautiful Minnelli house, we felt like the driveway was a mile long. I had Felicia up on my shoulders, she had her younger Jacob upon her hip.
The house had the elegant chandelier shining brightly as our feet crunched through the fallen leaves.
We were very excited to read the framed listing of residents:
Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Minnelli
Retired from film making,
Lived within these walls.
Whose first wife was,
Whose daughter was
I remember reading this aloud to our children while we waited for the people to arrive and answer the door.
There were only two children listed in family members names in Vincente Minneli’s biography, Liza and Christiane.
My son (age 11) said rather amusingly,
“As long as the people don’t have scary flying monkeys we will like this, Mom.”
The elderly couple must have been between 85 and 90. One was a tall, white haired gentleman who leaned on his cane and the other was a stooped, gray haired woman in a dress and apron.
We were not sure how many people had traipsed up this driveway but we were warmly received.
You may be shocked but we were escorted into a kitchen that had a fireplace blazing, treats in brown paper lunch bags with an orange gingham ribbon tying each one.
We will never forget this unusual feature in the kitchen: a dumbwaiter! It worked, too.
Last, but not least, the residents told us they were not relatives of any Minelli family members.
~Written by Robin Oldrieve Cochran
This is a part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday’s Doors and you may find his post where links to other blogs with Door posts are displayed through photographs, descriptions and history frequently given at:
This next part was my previously published post:
It was a Character Study of a homeless woman. If you have read it before feel free to skip it.
I decided to have a connection built in this practice in character development with someone famous. . .
When I started to write about characters, I chose to
begin with two homeless men. I mentioned that there
are a few different people who I have seen in
Delaware, through inclement weather and over a year.
The men I gave names to, helping me to become ‘real’
and giving them character traits.
I used my imagination as a ‘springboard’ to create
some depth and authenticity.
After all, when we write, unless we are sticking to the
total truth of our own lives, we need to learn how to
develop characters. I will not be writing a memoir
someday, although many of you are or may.
I think I am destined for writing fiction, using partly
truths based on people I have met, while adding
details to create interest and variety.
These ‘character studies’ have been my way of
practicing and honing my writing skills.
Something important that is easy to accidentally do,
when we start to write, is to make the people in our
books into ‘caricatures.’ One’s aim should be to create
people who are able to ‘walk off the pages of your
book.’ After reading, over the years, a few books on
writing (another post’s focused on the ‘experts’ I have
studied) I did find out when it is considered
acceptable to incorporate some stereotypes.
These times can be when you are going for a broad
comedy, a science fiction or comic book type of style.
When you are creating sy-fy, in most situations you
wish the story to become believable and transport to
the foreign land of the future. It could be a stylistic,
polished picture that you may paint, like a top hat,
black tie book.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby,” comes
to mind where the characters are painted with rather
broad strokes… The character of Daisy’s husband is
abusive but she doesn’t seem to mind. She is
controlled by him, much to her friend, Gatsby’s
dismay. He may not have the appropriate lineage
to fit into the Jazz age, outlandishly extravagant upper
class picture that F.S.F. imparts. But Gatsby is the
most ‘real’ man, in my opinion, other than the narrator,
I feel for both men’s tough situations. Gatsby tried so
hard to fit into society, out of love for Daisy. His
lifestyle, on the surface appears to be wealthy by his
buying a mansion and throwing lavish parties.
My character of “Billie” is a woman who has been
around Delaware,Ohio for over a year. She has been
seen by my youngest daughter and me, on a park
bench in Mingo Park, along the walking trail
between William Street and Winter Street and on the
sidewalk by a plaza on Sandusky Street.
I have noticed this woman’s wavy, sometimes
tangled strawberry blonde hair. It is not a brightly
colored shiny head of hair, but mostly a faded,
She has a big backpack, which she may store
somewhere in the summertime, hiding it so she
doesn’t have to carry it constantly. It looks heavy.
Since we have seen her, wearing shorts, a tank top
and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist. There
was no physical evidence, on that occasion, to appear
Only once in the half dozen times where I have noted
her appearance, did I see her hair, woven into a loose
braid with a red rubber band at the end of it.
“Billie” makes me think of Pippi Longstocking, a
creation of the author, Astrid Lindgren. I imagine her
to have had a special life, once upon a time, like the
The books about 9 year old, Pippi, were published
between 1945 and 1948. The chapter books are funny,
unusual and I would hesitate to ever try to imitate the
zaniness of the children’s story lines of those amazing
I can imagine “Billie” as a rebellious and interesting
person, who may have been a “hippie” in the seventies.
I tried to visualize her as an affluent woman, who may
have lost her path in life. I don’t ‘see’ that in her,
if my views on her are at all possibly going to be
realistic, I have to think she made some choices that
took her away from a traditional working life. I have
to hope she doesn’t have children, although her losing
them to foster care, then a financial struggle could
be part of her past.
“Billie” was wearing dirty and raggedy jeans, a khaki
Army jacket, and wore on her back, the brown rolled
sleeping bag peeking out of her knapsack. The last
time I saw her, she was standing out in the rain. She
had one hand in her pocket and the other raised to
push her loose locks back into the hooded gray
sweatshirt that was under her jacket.
The layered look was a necessity because the nights
were ranging in the low 30’s.
Although this Army jacket may seem to give a glimpse
of her Life’s choices and personal history which may
include she may have been enrolled at one time, we
can not be sure of this. The local Salvation Army and
Goodwill stores often have Army jackets, among their
I would like to envision a happier past for “Billie,” one
out in the country. Maybe she was a Girl Scout, a 4-H
member or her family went camping. This would have
taught her the skills to be able to survive all four
seasons here in Delaware.
I could visualize her skipping stones along the creek,
fishing with her father and maybe, if he were an
outdoorsman, going along while he pulled or checked
I wonder if “Billie” has an Army knife?
I wonder if she eats at the three different churches
that serve homeless or ‘down on their luck’ families?
Then, on the last week which is not covered by these
meals, does she go to Andrews House?
Has she ever slept there in one of the bunk beds?
That is the only ‘loft’ for homeless people we have,
usually with a long waiting list.
When I saw her last summer, “Billie” seemed to have a
wistful look in her eyes. She was sitting on a park
bench, watching a group of ducks on the tributary of
the Olentangy River.
She doesn’t have a hardened look, at least through my
eyes. I see her as not dissatisfied with her plight in
Acceptance and courage resonate from her freckled
face to the way she holds herself. That jaunty hand in
the pocket, the once, braided hair. Most of the time,
the tangled mess of hair seems to shout,
“I don’t give a hoot what people think!”
Does she take a knife or scissors to the hair so that
she has less of it in the summer?
Did she ever stop and talk to “Joe,” last summer, the
younger man with his dog? (Who frequented the
library and I had hoped had made it South or out
West.) His tan face and sun-bleached blonde hair, had
given me a ‘surfer’ sort of impression…
I don’t see her liking that ‘cowboy’ or Irish looking
“Brian,” who was straddling the big dumpster. He
seems to be too odd to trust, maybe even a little scary
to the short, 5′ 3″ or so, woman.
I may seem a dreamer, maybe a woman with her ‘rose
colored glasses’ firmly in place, but I think that “Billie”
is not unhappy in this location.
Due to a bit of whimsy attached to that unmanageable
blondish red hair, I guess “Billie” caught my attention.
Once upon a time, Liza Minnelli with her mother, Judy
Garland and grandfather, Vincente Minnelli may have
visited Delaware, Ohio.
After all, Vincente’s paternal grandparents lived in
Vincenzo Minnelli, had been a traveling piano
salesman, from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. He was
working for the Knabe Piano Company, when
Vincenzo met Nina Pinket, his future wife in Delaware,
Although there is no proof in the biographical
information that I found, Vincente’s father, may have
taught music at Ohio Wesleyan University.
I would like to wonder, ponder and imagine that “Billie”
could have some famous roots. It would be interesting
if she had turned up her nose at those in her famous
What could the possibilities be for “Billie” were she
sought out by distant cousins, siblings or others,
finding her in this town, not far from where she was
meant to be?
If so, she isn’t in Kansas anymore…