The Museum of Fulton County fills their space not only with items of historical value but also embraces the diversity of each item that is showcased in their exhibits.
How does something so uniquely and intricately made live in its habitat (natural or otherwise), endure life’s circumstances, and still flourish or fail? Come find out at the museum’s special exhibits on display each year.
John Swearingen, Director of the Museum of Fulton County, cleverly curated the Sound of the Hammer – Stroke of the Pen collection by painting a true picture of the legacy that Carl Britsch, former Archbold and Toledo resident, left behind.
Britsch’s story starts out like many other American immigrant stories. En route to America from Switzerland, his grandfather died and left his dad, Hans George Britsch, to settle in Ohio in November 1865.
George became a master carpenter at Gotshall Brothers sawmill in the town of Archbold. He built the family home on Defiance Street for his wife, Emma, after they married in 1878. He also built many homes and barns in the surrounding area.
On George’s 80th birthday, he drew Carl an intricate map of homestead life in his motherland. Some might say that the detail and depth of the map not only shed light into the life he used to live but was a true work of art.
Like father, like son, as the old saying goes. Carl was gifted with the pen, as an architect, and as an artist and with the hammer building commercial buildings, homes, and barns in the area. His designs are still around for us to see today.
Gotshall Brothers sawmill is where Carl Britsch got his architectural start training under his father’s supervision. He continued this line of work most of his life save for his enlistment in the army during World War I.
All of Carl’s original architectural drawings were penciled on vellum. Carefully measured and precise blueprints were drawn up for each building and sight.
Being an architect wasn’t something that Carl Britsch took lightly. He started his quest to learn to design and build buildings while still in high school by taking a mail order class. Britsch then went to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh to earn his degree in architecture.
He earned the highest award an architect can receive, to be elected as a Member Emeritus of the American Institute of Architects. He was a person who was commended for his commitment to his lifelong passion.
Britsch was considered a community minded man not only because he volunteered his time by leading various boards and committees but because people’s stories were important to him.
Britsch wrote a book in 1963, Sound of the Hammer, explaining how the now Fulton County area was settled. It tells the stories of the hardships that early Northwest Ohio families fought to build homes for themselves in the Black Swamp area. He also wrote an article about classical architecture in the Toledo Blade newspaper in the 1950s.
Details were important to him. He liked to chronicle the events of something important to him such as his family’s trips in a journal. One interesting example is a book in the collection that lies open showing a detailed account of a trip that he, his wife, and grandsons made.
Britsch also painted with watercolors. Most every Christmas, he created the family Christmas card by painting a lush scene from one of the many places they had visited. Some of his works can be seen in the museum exhibit.
In the exhibit, Sound of the Hammer – Stroke of the Pen, at the Museum of Fulton County, Carl Britsch leaves a visible legacy for us not only to admire but hopefully to inspire.