Large murals throughout downtown help tell the history of Minerva. Downtown’s newest mural, displayed on three separate panels on the side of the Chuckalovchak building , depicts Market Street in the 1950s. The panels show vintage cars lining the brick street and a crowd of people standing along the sidewalk waiting to get into the Roxy Theater. The Isaly’s store and the Hart Mansion also appear in the background. The artwork is an enlargement of a painting by Ohio artist Dave Barnhouse that hangs in the Hart Mansion. Another mural can be found on seven windows of the Minerva Area Historical Society’s Haas Museum , painted by Canton artist Patrick Buckohr in 2005. The panels display historical scenes of the village, including the Minerva Cabin—which is the birthplace of the town’s namesake, Minerva Ann Thomas—and Union School, Pennock House, Minerva Park, Minerva Milling Co., Jackson Hotel and the Minerva Power Plant.
Henri’s Cloud Nine
If you see cars with out-of-state license plates and hear the squeal of delighted girls, chances are you’re close to Henri’s Cloud Nine. The two-floor store carries one of the nation’s most extensive selection of dresses for proms, homecomings, pageants and weddings. It typically has about 300 gowns in stock, and its dress registry ensures that it never will sell the same dress for the same event. Henri’s, which has opened a second store in Columbus, welcomes roughly 5,000 girls and women to its Minerva store every year. Some have come from as far away as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and California.
The flat-iron building began as a hotel 138 years ago, with its tower serving as a lookout for trains rolling on the railroad tracks that run along the south side of the building. A few tourist guides say the inn got its name in 1944, when prize fighter Mickey Finn returned to Minerva after fighting on the cliffs of Normandy, France, during World War II. He called the inn “Normandy” to commemorate the loss of his friend who was killed alongside him during the battle. A Repository dated Feb. 22, 1939, shows a classified ad offering to sell the eight-room house and its 2 acres of land. The ad said the owner was leaving town, and offers were to be sent to “Normandy Inn, 114 S. Market st, Minerva, O.” The restaurant now serves steaks and seafood and offers a build-your-own burger night.
Stark County’s first micro-distillers operate from a renovated storefront. Business partners George Hayes and Drew Higgins first began making Uncle Higgins Olde Fashion Rum in 2014, and then launched their best-seller, Uncle Higgins Vodka, a few months later. Like their liquor, the store also has been handcrafted. The distillery bar is made from wood and other materials found in the basement of the building. The walls are covered in corrugated metal, and the floor is made of salvaged wood. A chandelier has been made from a wagon wheel. Higgins himself made the bottle labeler. The distillery also offers tastings.
The longtime fixture has taken on many reincarnations through the years. From its heyday as the Roxy Theater, where crowds of people lined up along the sidewalk under its marquee, to being renamed the Mohawk Theater in the 1960s, to becoming a church in the ’80s. In 2011, the Minerva Area Chamber of Commerce acquired the building and has refurbished its roughly 180-seat theater as well as restored the Roxy name to the marquee, which now boasts an electronic display that advertises community activities. Now used for music performances, theater groups and other community and business events, it also is rented for private functions. This summer, it hosted “Minerva Monster,” a documentary about the 1978 Bigfoot sightings.
Hart Mansion Restaurant
Perched on a hill at the north end of downtown, the stately Hart Mansion Restaurant serves up a fine-dining experience with a fine view of Minerva. The 146-year-old, Italianate-style mansion became a restaurant in 2008 and now specializes in steaks, seafood and pasta. The mansion, which has retained nearly all of its original features, offers diners the choice of a more formal dining room with tables draped in white linen on the first floor, or a more cozy dining space with a bar upstairs.