Great Stone Viaduct Winter Lecture Series Returns to Bellaire Public Library

The Bellaire Public Library and the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society forged a partnership in 2013 to sponsor public lectures during the months of February and March. The partnership was named the Winter Lecture Series. This year marks the 11th year of this partnership which now begins its second decade of service to the local area. Over the past decade, noted speakers have presented topics relating to the local heritage of the tri-state area. The community room of the Bellaire Library has served as the venue for these presentations, and the lineup of speakers for 2023 on a variety of topics has been set for each Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. during February and March.

Since the inception of the program more than 10 years ago, audiences have enjoyed presentations by noted authors, educators, attorneys, judges, librarians, and skilled artisans who have discussed their craft. This year will once again be no different than in the past. The day, time, and location remain the same. The presentations will be live-streamed for the convenience of those who are not able to attend in person.

The Wednesday, February 1 presentation will kick off the 2023 Lecture Series drawing upon the photographic archives of the Bellaire Public Library. The Bellaire Public Library is fortunate to have received, in the last year, a donation of dozens of black and white photographs that chronicle the story of how the famous entertainer and comedian Bob Hope was drawn to the All-American Town to preview the movie My Favorite Spy in November of 1951. In “Thanks for the Memories”, the first lecture of this year’s series, local author and attorney, Daniel Frizzi, Jr., will narrate this photographic nostalgia. The lecture will begin with a reenactment of the actual radio broadcast that was heard nationwide in 1951 telling how Bob Hope planned to premiere My Favorite Spy in the living room of some lucky American family. That family became Michael and Anne Kuchinka of Bellaire, Ohio.

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Erin Rothenbuehler, Director of the Bellaire Public Library Director and Erica Keller, Great Stone Viaduct Board Member and Committee Chair for the Winter Lecture Series, review photographs and newspapers from the Library’s archival collection documenting Bob Hope’s 1951 visit to Bellaire. Hope’s visit will be the subject of the kick-off lecture of the 2023 lecture series on February 1.

While in town, Hope and his entourage of movie stars were entertained by the late Michael and Anne Kuchinka at their Belview Heights home where the movie was indeed premiered in their living room. Following a well-attended parade through town which ended at Nelson Field, Hope also broadcast his radio show from the Bellaire High School auditorium. Visiting Bellaire with Hope were actresses Jan Sterling, Gloria Graham, Marilyn Maxwell, Mary Murphy, Susan Morrow, and comedian Jerry Colonna while Les Brown and his “Band of Reknown” supplied the music for the radio show broadcast from the Bellaire High School.

Following the kick-off lecture, the Bellaire Public Library will also be having a movie night, Thursday, February 2, at 6 p.m., where My Favorite Spy will be shown once again here in Bellaire. The library has also arranged to obtain the actual recording of the Bob Hope Radio Show broadcast from the Bellaire High School Auditorium.

A full schedule for the 2023 Winter Lecture Series includes the following:

February 1: “Thanks for the Memories-Bob Hope in Bellaire” presented by Attorney Daniel L. Frizzi, Jr. (with a February 2, 6 pm viewing of the movie My Favorite Spy);

February 8: “The Moonlight Mill Murders of Stuebenville, Ohio” presented by author Susan Guy;

February 15: “Belmont County – The Bedrock of Historical Preservation” presented by educators and craftsmen Jon Smith, Jeffery Forster, and Sarel Venter

February 22: “The Inception of the New Industrial Training Center” presented by Training Director Jason Dean and Architect Wendy Scatterday

March 1: “Belmont County’s Dangerfield Newbie: From John Brown’s Raid to his Fight for Freedom” presented by Jon-Erik Gilot

March 8: “The Steamboat Scioto” presented by Taylor Abbott

March 15: “It All Started in a Janitor’s Closet” presented by Tom Raticzak

March 22: “Wheeling Secessionists – Recollections of two local women from the Civil War” presented by Judi Hendrickson and Jeanne Finstein

Learn more about the 2023 Winter Lecture Series by visiting the Bellaire Public Library’s website.