If you've visited Harmon Museum recently (or just driven by) you probably noticed that the front steps have been closed off. The steps have begun to crumble and are no longer safe to climb. Having been patched throughout the years, they are now beyond repair and need to be replaced. The Warren County Historical Society which owns and operates Harmon Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, privately funded by donations, admissions, and fundraising activities. We receive less than 5% of our annual budget in government support. If you would like to help please click on the donate button at the top of this page. We also accept checks in the mail and cash at the museum.
The front steps of Harmon Museum are not just a way into the museum. The building is set high above the street making those steps a great vantage point for viewing parades and other happenings in downtown Lebanon. When John McCain and Sarah Palin visited Lebanon during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Senator McCain walked down Broadway to Harmon Museum to shake hands with 50 or so people who were watching the event from Harmon Museum’s steps. On the first Saturday in December the steps are packed with folks watching the horse drawn carriages turn from Broadway onto Main Street during Lebanon’s annual Christmas Festival. Other times you see high school seniors, family groups or even brides having their picture taken on the steps.
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John J. Zimkus has lectured and written about the history of Lebanon and Warren County, Ohio for over 30 years.
He has been the historian of the Warren County Historical Society since 1990, and in 2008 was named the education director of the society’s Harmon Museum. He has also been the house historian of The Golden Lamb, Ohio's oldest inn, since 2007.
Holding degrees from both, Miami University and Wright State University, John was a teacher in the Lebanon City School District for 35 years. He was a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Foundation Award from the Area Progress Council of Warren County, Inc. in both 1990 and 1998.
In 2006, he was honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution as Ohio’s Outstanding Teacher of American History, and was inducted into the Lebanon City Schools Hall of Fame in 2008.
John is the author of Historical Footnotes of Lebanon, Ohio, which is composed of 29 stories that cover over 200 years of the vivid history of the city of Lebanon.
In April 2012, John was recognized by the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce as its “2012 - Citizen of the Year”.
In 2015, John received the Robert and Virginia Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation Inc. in appreciation for his efforts “toward preserving, improving and enhancing the historic fabric and quality of life in the community of greater Lebanon.”
From the desk of John Zimkus:
For 35 years as a teacher, twenty of them teaching Ohio history, I began each day with my 7th graders with an “Ohioan of the Day”. It started before the internet so I couldn’t “Google” the “Ohioans.” All of my research was done with almanacs and encyclopedias. That first year was a bear!
We lost two of my favorite “Ohioans” in the last couple of days - Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on May 13, and Thomas Daniel Conway on May 14.
Doris was born in Cincinnati on April 3, 1922. She was a German through and through. In fact, some sources say her full name was Doris VON Kappelhoff.
Her earliest dream was to become a dancer. That hope was crushed in 1937, along with her right leg, when a car in which she was riding was hit by a train when she was 15. While recuperating she started to take singing lessons. Her first professional job as a vocalist was on the WLW Radio in Cincinnati.
Doris then caught the attention of Barney Rapp, who was looking for a female vocalist for his band. (Rapp was married in 1936 to singer Ruby Wright. Ohioans out there might remember that Ruby sang for years on the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club in TV and radio in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton.)
It was Barney Rapp, in 1939, who had Doris change her last name. He thought "Kappelhoff" was too long for marquees, so he suggested she become - Doris DAY.
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Thomas Daniel Conway was on December 15, 1933, in Willoughby, Ohio to an Irish father and a Rumanian mother. Tom grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1956. Tom Conway always wanted to be a disc jockey and actually was one in college at WWBG on a show called “Sunny Side Up.”
While working in advertising at Cleveland TV station WKYW, Tom often would help fill in time on the station’s afternoon movie show by playing goofy characters and doing hilarious skits with the host. One day, Rose Marie, who would in a few years be a regular on the classic “Dick Van Dyke Show,” saw him and helped him get a Hollywood audition. Steve Allen was the one who first gave him national attention. There was one problem, however, his name.
The Screen Actors Guild makes every effort to avoid enrolling members with the same name or with very similar names. (Thats why Michael J. Fox all of a sudden got a middle initial that he never had before.) In the early 1960s there already was a Tom Conway in SAG. He was actor George Sanders’ younger brother who made dozens of “B” movie in the 1940s, several as the detective known as “The Falcon.” So when Ohio’s Tom Conway got his SAG card he became TIM Conway.
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I saw Tim Conway in person twice. Once in a “new comedy” play in the early 1980s called “Wally’s Cafe” in Dayton, Ohio as part of the summer-stock Kenley Payers. (“Wally’s Cafe” would go to Broadway in 1981 starring James Coco and last for only 12 performances) This photo of Tim Conway is from the “Wally’s Cafe” program.
The second time was in Cincinnati at the Taft Theater about 15 years ago. Tim Conway was performing with his old pal from “The Carol Burnett Show,” Harvey Korman. The two were touring in the stage show, “Together Again with Tim and Harvey,” and doing many classic bits from the old Burnett Show. They toured for over 10 years to sold out markets until Korman’s death in 2008.
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