City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
After photo

Featured Article

Preserving the Past

Loveland Museum Center: The Heart of History and Tradition, Memories and Moments

Article by Nicole Browning

Photography by Matthew J. Capps

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

When you think of a museum, you may be transported to halls full of art, glass display cases of pictures, relics from times past. Museums are special places that curate and cultivate a community’s history, and in a place as amazing as Loveland, we’d be remiss not to bring attention to the Loveland Museum Center—a space dedicated to the one-of-a-kind history this part of Ohio has to offer.

“The Loveland Museum Center is vital to the ever-growing community through its mission of collecting, preserving and displaying historical information pertinent to the Greater Loveland area,” says Jenny Shives, Loveland Museum Center Curator, someone chock-full of information and history about this amazing space. “It helps in creating a cultural understanding of development and expression between new, existing and former residents.”

Opening its doors to the public on July 7, 1984, the Bonaventure House became the home for the Loveland Historical Society Museum. This house, built in 1862 on Riverside Avenue, was first occupied by Dr. John S. Law, the father of Loveland’s first Mayor. It contains a multitude of rooms that have been carefully, lovingly refurbished and renovated to mimic their appearance from the Victorian era. 

Also on the grounds is the Rich Family Log Cabin. “In 1995, under JoAnn Richardson’s directorship, a ‘Save the Cabin Campaign’ was created to help fund the resettlement and restoration of the 1797 cabin,” Jenny explains. “It was completed in 1996.” That same year, “the museum began to aggressively enlarge our collection of photographs by one of the foremost American pictorialists, Nancy Ford Cones (1869-1962).” And while Cones’s work is featured in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Loveland Museum Center boasts the largest collection of her work in existence. 

Throughout the years as this community has grown, so has the Loveland Museum Center itself—and Loveland-local John Hill (owner of John Hill Construction) has been the tried-and-true go-to for the job. It just makes sense that a man with deep roots here would also be the one helping to preserve the Loveland Museum Center’s beauty—inside and out. “I was born and raised here; we made our living here,” explains John, whose offices are in downtown Loveland, completely intertwining his business in the community. “Our great relationship with the historical society goes back to 2007, when we built the JoAnn Richardson Library and Conference Center,” explaining how his involvement with the museum began. JHC did a historic bedroom renovation in 2016, and also were hired for the World War II memorial that stands on Museum Center grounds.

JHC’s most recent project was a facelift to the outside of the Bonaventure house, removing the siding and remodeling the wrap-around porch. “There were some not-so-historically accurate adjustments to the house—aluminum siding, for example. The goal of the project was to refresh it back to its authentic, architectural elegance,” John remarks. And while it was a big job, John was up for the task. “The fun parts of the project were seeking out correct-looking pieces, as best we can get them today. Because we do major remodeling projects, we have a deep respect for that old-world craftsmanship.” 

Recently, the Museum Center has been closed for interior renovations on its gift shop—with the goal of being able to offer a larger variety of gifts and goods, and have more storage spaces—but there is plenty to look forward to when the doors to the Bonaventure House reopen at the beginning of this month, including “a display of its newest painting acquisitions by well-known Loveland resident artist Dierde Dyson,” Jenny shares. Also among the museum’s permanent collections will be a display focused on several early Loveland families and businesses.

Additionally, a new generation of artists has revived the craft group that has historically been associated with the Museum Center. “The Loveland Museum Design Group has been established to create seasonal displays to enhance Bonaventure House,” Jenny states. Not to be missed are the Lunch and Learn lectures—“The Amazing Civil War, History in Your Backyard” on May 8, presented by Peter Bronson, former editor and reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer; and an October 24 wine-tasting event called “Fall Back in Time.” In mid-December, the museum will open its doors for guests to visit “Victorian Splendor,” in which the Bonaventure House will be decked out for the holidays.


Jan Beller, current Director of the Loveland Museum Center, is tied to this community not only through her position at the Center, but also through the land on which she lives. Goodnough Hill, the property she now occupies, has been in her family since the 1870s. “Both my great-grandfather, Archibald Buchannan Brock, and WW Brock started the first lumber mill, followed by a hardware store, then Building and Loan Co.,” Jan explains of her links to the Loveland area. “I have boxes of letters, memorabilia, pictures of relatives and friends, certificates and diaries … dating from before my grandmother’s marriage to Archie C. Brock.” Much of which can be seen on display at the Museum Center.

Jan, who has held the position of director since 1999, found herself learning the ways of the museum from JoAnn Richarson.“Jo was fun to work with, and I called her my mentor,” Jan explains. “She taught me all about running the Museum and more.”

With a passion for Loveland and the Museum Center, Jan says she has loved working with volunteers, and the opportunity to represent LMC’s amassing growth over the last 20 years. Another favorite of hers? “When I can work with someone wanting to find background information on a distant relative and they find something unknown—it’s like a treasure hunt!”

“Our mission statement: to collect, preserve and display historical information pertinent to the Greater Loveland area, be regarded as a local authority on historical designation, serve as curator of locally significant art, and foster within our community an appreciation and curiosity regarding our area’s past.” - Jenny Shives

“One of the best times, one of my favorite times, was in 2016 when Jenny and I helped supervise converting a storeroom into the Victorian Lincoln Room—using items from our collection.” - Jan Beller

  • Photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • Photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • Photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • Photo provided
  • Before photo
  • Before photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • Photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • Photo provided by John Hill Construction
  • After photo
  • Nancy Ford Cones Display