Visitors and Guests at Fiddlestix in Ohio’s Hocking Hills will enjoy viewing the three large window displays of several hundred vintage salt and pepper shakers at the newest cottage, aptly named “The Salt and Pepper Museum.”  The shakers are mostly figural and are organized by shelves in such categories as people, cats, dogs, birds, chickens, cows, holidays, far-away places, buildings and many, many more.  A fourth, smaller window hosts a monthly display. Through September visitors can explore long-ago vacation souvenir shakers from destinations from Lake Hope to Las Vegas.

The displays are designed to be viewed from outside the cottage and are accessible by either steps or a ramp.  Suggested viewing times are between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless Guests are in residence.

“This is less than half of the current collection,” says Sue Maxwell, Fiddlestix owner.  “The displays will completely change periodically,” she adds.  Sue explains that the collection accidentally began a few years ago when she found a box full at a yard sale; and intending to clean them up to use she never got around to it and forgot about them.

This cottage and another one were once little shops on the Fiddlestix property, along with the original farmhouse.  The farmhouse was turned into a Guest cottage a couple of years ago, and because of other personal considerations, Maxwell temporarily closed the gift shops. Last year at about this time the electric company asked that the small buildings which were under the big trees be either moved or torn down, as they were upgrading the high-power lines above them and were cutting down the four big trees.  Both little buildings were moved a bit uphill and a little further north .  New gardens have been started where the trees once stood.

At about the same time Sue acquired several more boxes of shakers for just a few dollars at an auction, and had one of those “aha” moments, as she describes it.  Thus the idea of a whimsical little country village of lodging was born. One little building had already become “Cookie Cottage” decorated with vintage cookie jars and cutters, and the other one with its big windows would house the shakers as décor.

Throughout the past year, she found many more interesting shakers.  “Their quaint old-fashioned nature just makes you smile,” she says, asking “didn’t you have a set of colorful roosters on your kitchen table when you were a child?”  She has found yard sales and thrift shops as well as antique malls good places to find these “cheap but charming” collectibles.

Although Maxwell’s Historic Host lodging business offers restored historic buildings with interesting stories, both of these newer cottages feature vintage interiors, collectibles and décor.  Cookie Cottage features 1930s kitchen  and bedroom furniture; and the new museum cottage has a wonderful primitive “Shaker-style” kitchenette built by Vinton County artisans Dave and Mary Thompson of Thompson’s Primitives.  Cottage bathrooms incorporate ornate antique dressers as vanities.

Maxwell has plans to re-open the Fiddlestix gift shop on weekends to feature “made in America” merchandise, with half of the space devoted to a workshop area for weekend classes in Heritage Arts.   Hopefully the restoration of the Martin Store which was moved to the Fiddlestix property will be finished next year, she says.  This will become a Guest lodging with shelves full of “country store” items that Guests can use and play with.

Maxwell bases her Historic Host lodging on the British model she and her husband enjoyed while traveling.  In many European countries where history and heritage are valued, historic buildings with interesting connections to regional heritage are rescued and restored as guest lodging.  Ideally, income from guest rentals is then used to support the buildings and acquire and restore the next one.  “Sustainable preservation through tourism,” she calls it.

Although Historic Host rental income doesn’t equal costs yet, she says, her business has rescued and restored a couple of other properties such as the one-room Dunkle Schoolhouse and a large house in nearby Zaleski that, by local legend,  was built in 1907 around the stairway once rescued from the Polish count’s Zaleski Castle  above the long-ago mining town.

For more information call 740-596-2408; or visit www.HistoricHost.com