Special Events

Thank You for Another Great Semester!

We’re thankful you joined us this past fall. These classes or events have already been held, but are kept here to offer you a glimpse of the programming we offer. Each semester’s offerings will vary, so check back soon for next semester’s content.

Somewhere in Time*

Hillforest Victorian House Museum, Ertel Winery, Batesville, Oldenburg
Wednesday, September 28
(Includes Lunch): $75 Member; $90 Non-Member**

Above the charming Ohio River town of Aurora, Indiana, sits Hillforest House, a stately 1855 Italian Renaissance mansion designed for industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff. Situated on 10 acres and built into a hillside in the manner in which Renaissance villas in Italy were built into the mountains, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

As a young man, Gaff learned the distilling business and, in 1843, established with his brother the T. & J. W. Gaff & Co. distillery in Aurora. The distillery produced bourbon, rye, and Thistle Dew scotch whiskey. The Gaffs also owned the Crescent Brewing Company, which produced Aurora Lager Beer. The beer’s quality was so high that it was even exported to Germany.

With their heavy reliance on the Ohio River for shipping, the Gaff brothers owned a fleet of steamboats. Hillforest’s impressive steamboat-influenced architecture is reflected in its full-width front porch reminiscent of a paddlewheeler’s deck, circular porches and colonnades, curved doors and windows, and a circular rooftop belvedere with round-arched windows that resemble a pilothouse. The interior features a flying staircase in the entrance hall that is typical of the better steamboats of the time period.

Lunch will lead us to Ertel Cellars Winery, set amidst chateau-styled architecture, sprawling vineyards, and breathtaking views. Located on 200 beautiful rolling acres near Batesville, this family-owned winery has maintained its own vineyard since 1999 and is a dream come true for Indiana native and founder, Tom Ertel.

We’ll make a brief stop in downtown Batesville to snap a few photos of The Umbrella Sky Project, a unique traveling art installation. Started in Portugal in 2011, this pop-up summertime installation has developed a cult following around the world, but few U.S. cities have witnessed its beauty.

Oldenburg village, settled in 1817, is one of Indiana’s oldest communities. In the 1830s, large numbers of southern Germans began pouring into Cincinnati before migrating elsewhere in the tristate. They designated their little Indiana hamlet “Neu Oldenburg” in honor of Oldenburg, Germany. The new villagers retained their language, architecture, religion, and cultural traditions from the old country. These characteristics were passed down through the years and give the village today its “old world” German character. Street signs are bilingual (German and English), and fire hydrants are painted works of art, reflecting German themes. Given the architectural and historical significance of many buildings, the Oldenburg Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The tiny town is known for its religious structures, particularly the concentration of steeples found on the churches and convent. This unique architecture has earned Oldenburg the nickname “The Village of Spires.” After guided tours of both the Sisters of St. Francis Convent and the historic district, your visit may just leave you humming a few bars of “Danke Schoen” in appreciation of this town’s preservation efforts.

NOTE: These are walking tours. Hillforest House has staircases, but there is an optional video for those choosing not to climb stairs. You will be asked to bring $10 cash for locations that “charge” donations only.


  • 8:30 a.m. - Assemble at SE corner of Ditmer parking lot for first pickup
  • 8:45 a.m. - Depart Oxford
  • 9 a.m. - Assemble at Lowe’s on Colerain Ave. for second pickup
  • 9:15 a.m. - Depart Lowe’s
  • 10 a.m. - Hillforest House
  • 11:45 a.m. - Ertel Winery (lunch)
  • 1 p.m. - Batesville (Umbrella Sky exhibit)
  • 1:45 p.m. - Oldenburg
  • 4:30 p.m. - Return to Lowe’s
  • 5:15 p.m. - Return to Oxford

Lunch (choose one)

  • California Club Sandwich
  • Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich
  • Fried Cod Sandwich
  • Balsamic Glazed Chicken Sandwich
  • Spinach Salad w/goat cheese, pecans, fruit

Kickoff Party

Friday, September 30; Noon–2 p.m.
Location: Berkeley Square, Theobald Dining Room
Cost (includes lunch): $12 Member; $15 Non-Member**

Join familiar friends and meet new ones as we enjoy a pizza/pasta lunch and kick off another exciting year of becoming engaged, enriched, and enlightened through ILR. Featured lecture: Russia’s War on Ukraine – Stephen Norris is the Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian History and Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami. He teaches courses on Russian imperial history, Soviet history, film and history, and the history of the world wars.