“If Only” for a Western Avenue Tavern

Apparently the PNC bank building at 800 Western Avenue (originally First National Bank’s western office, and later BancOhio) at the foot of University Drive is being demolished; it may be gone by now.

It’s a shame that didn’t happen 54 years ago.

Demolition underway, June 9th, 2022

Since the bank building was there first (it shows up between the 1962 and 1964 city directory), it pushed the design of University Drive to the west when that boulevard was built (it shows up between the 1966 and 1968 city directory). That caused a cut into the hillside under the nice stone cottage at 810 Western…with the new road ending almost opposite the “Martin Hess Hotel” at 807 Western.

Looking south from the convenience store in 2015, across Western Avenue, and up ‘South’ University Drive. BancOhio is on the left edge, and the Scholl House / Coppel House is up on the right. In the distance is Our Savior Lutheran Church, and behind it is the OU-C hilltop.
The c1903 Scholl House / Coppel House sits atop the little hillock at the southwest corner of Western Avenue and University Drive. This is one of a long series of snowy photos of Chillicothe and Ross County taken in February of 1940 by the Farm Security Administration, available online in the Library of Congress.

What Was It?

The vacant Hess Hotel was demolished in 1990, probably to make way for development. If University hadn’t ended there, the building (and its back building, possibly a summer kitchen / root cellar) could have been put to decent use and remained standing.

The “Martin Hess Hotel” at 807 Western Avenue about 1985, looking northwest…from the parking lot of BancOhio. University Drive ends at the traffic lights. Note the outbuilding to the right, built into the slope above Honey Creek. (I have better photos of it myself, but they’re Kodachrome slides tucked away safely…in a closet…behind a lot of books…)

John Grabb notes the building was built in the 1850s by Martin Hess. I say it could also be 1840s; the “trabeated” doorway with sidelights and transom is typical of the basic Greek Revival style in those decades.

The building was a center-passage I House, meaning the core of the building is one room deep, with a stair hall in the center with one room on either side, and a full second floor of identical plan. It also had an original two-story ell on the back left (west) side, with a two-tier porch on the inside (east side) of that ell which was later enclosed. It probably had at least ten rooms – not counting hallways, additions, and porch enclosures.

The plain white-painted medium-height frieze under the front eaves is typical of our minimal Greek Revivals. The square attic windows are common in the area, especially north of Chillicothe.

The charming banked one-and-a-half story outbuilding was probably one room on each of its three floors with an enclosed corner stairway, and later additions. It looks like it could have been the original ‘cabin’ on the site, but was probably built at the same time as the tavern, as a support structure. Any barn / livery, other sheds, and the requisite privy were long gone by the late 20th century.

The 1990s development that replaced it was “Traditions,” now part of a complex by National Church Residences, whose entrance road is a continuation of University Drive. The site of the Hess Hotel is now shared by the new street and their newest, 2011, fifth building.

A view south on ‘North’ University Drive, over the dip where Honey Creek flows under, across Western Avenue at the traffic lights, and up original ‘South’ University Drive. The octagonal Our Savior Lutheran Church is in the distance. (I presume the boulevard part of ‘North” University Drive, with the median, is a public street – while the rest is a private street of National Church Residences.)


As it was, the Hess Hotel served a a bit of a gateway for old Chillicothe – like the Kern Tavern at the north end of High Street (desperately in need of saving) and the Mione Hotel beyond the end of Paint Street at the SR 772 / Cooks Hill Road split (demolished about 1980).

The Kern Tavern at 718 North High Street, Chillicothe, in better years – about 2004
A December 1979 Gazette article about the impending doom of the the Mione Hotel at the SR 772 / Cooks Hill Road split (demolished about 1980). It had been modified with a storefront and mansard (actually Halifax) roof, but you can still see the original tavern’s second door. (From David Coyle’s response to a post in the Facebook page “You know you’re from Chillicothe, OH when…”)

All of them were taverns, which were the the hotel / motel / convention center / restaurant of the early and mid-19th century. You can identify them by the additional front side door to what otherwise looks like a house. (That second door was the direct entrance to the barroom, in case you were really thirsty!)

Further History

The Martin Hess Hotel is also documented as a “Den of Iniquity” by John Grabb on pages 39-40 in his “Little Known Tales.” Some humor resulted from an 1874 police raid on its employees…and their customers, who apparently remained anonymous.

The Hess Hotel was also near a toll house on the Milford & Chillicothe Turnpike (Western Avenue in Chillicothe), as discussed in Orval Gattens’ 2019 post in the Facebook page “You know you’re from Chillicothe, OH when…”

On the turnpike running diagonally in a crop of the 1875 Gould’s Atlas of Ross County below, you can see the tavern parcel owned by “Mr. Hess.” The toll house is on the corner of Duncan McArthur’s estate “Fruit Hill Farm,” just west of what is now the Party House of Governor’s Place (on the lot of “S.S. Cooke” (?)). Woodbridge Avenue will later run though the property of…Mr. Woodbridge. And, you can guess what road runs though the farm of Joseph H. Plyey.

Buried, Like its Mother Stream

Additionally, there is a little stream that comes down the hill along University Drive. It tumbles off the hilltop behind Bennett Hall and the Stevenson Center / Quinn Library of OU-C, along the sledding hill and disc golf course, past Our Savior Lutheran Church and Hopeton Terrace.

It was undergrounded on the west side of the BancOhio building, presumably when University Drive was built atop its route there. Its open ravine on the north side of Western Avenue was filled in a few years before Norse remodeled the 1976 convenience store there, probably when ‘North’ University Drive was expanded in the 1990s.

Looking north from Western Avenue over the now-buried ‘James Run’ beside the convenience store. (The uprooted OU-C sign is pointing the wrong way.) The city had to do some work in the earthen fill and pavement there in 2015…and the pavement is still a bit bumpy from that.

The stream is one of many tributaries of Honey Creek, which flowed out in the open behind the Hess Hotel – now largely encased there in a six-foot-diameter culvert under the entrance to the National Church Residences complex.

I think I have a c1988 photo of the farmlike rolling grassy setting there – just a short stone’s throw from the oblivious bustle of Western Avenue.

Shawnees…Rapid Forge…B&B…Mausoleum…

I’ve tentatively named the tributary James Run, since Thomas James owned the hill beside it when he met a band of Shawnees there in the 1820s. (“Run” is the Virginian version of “creek” or “stream.”)

The Shawnees were camping there while on their way to Washington, D.C. James was in the iron industry (including Rapid Forge west of Bainbridge) and saw that their body paint was based on an iron-rich mineral. The Shawnees promised to show him where it came from in Missouri, where James soon developed another ironworks and eventually moved there to live (and die).

James was a major contributor to the large, historic Willis-Spencer-James-Cook-Musser House at 58 West 5th Street…rapidly becoming a B&B again.

His family also has a c1915 fantastic little classical temple vault in Grandview Cemetery that has a stained glass window of Jesus that I like to point out in my cemetery tours.

Read more in Pat Medert’s short bio of James in her Paint Street, or 4th 5th & Caldwell, volumes.

A Sci Fi Memory

My parents banked in the BancOhio building in the 1970s. For some reason, I have one strong memory of the place.

My mom went inside for a while, and I stayed out in the car, parked behind where the drive-through was. In high school I gradually raided my dad’s science fiction shelf (it was about 12 feet long), and was working on Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”

While at the bank (banc?) I read the scene where a current-day human colonist meets a long-dead martian in some odd and unexplained time fracture. I think only a year or two later, a television minseries was produced from the sci fi classic:

In Memoriam Historiae

Oh…and since the bank building was built between 1960 and 1962, it would be historical since it was more than 50 years old.

But, not nearly as interesting and historic as the mid-nineteenth century tavern that it in part led to be destroyed..about 30 years after the bank was built, and 32 years before the bank was destroyed.

The icon of Intrepid Heritage Services • Kevin B. Coleman

Wending Through Walhalla – Exploring Clintonville’s Paradise Ravine (Walhalla Part 2)

Or, Walhalla Uncovered – As It Should Be…Unlike in Part 1.

In part one, I showed how I happened across a grilled-over well-like shaft at the edge of High Street to see Walhalla’s stream flowing deep beneath.

That took me downstream in a ravine devoid of the stream (tunnelized under West Tulane) until I reached the stream’s outlet behind Olentangy Village (itself the subject of a sideline blog).

At High Street, I peeked into the ravine proper before backing out and looking briefly at former Clinton Chapel at the street’s mouth (yet another possible sideline blog). So here, I’ll travel deeper into the Paradisiacal Vale of the Great Hall of Dead Warriors.

(However, the street is heavily traveled by pedestrians, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, and avocational naturalists, who are allowed to go both ways…unlike the infernal combustion prison-cells-on-wheels.)

Here at the last culvert crossing under the road, is the second of the three last houses on the street – recent modernistic-styled residences sitting on the road within the ravine, instead of perching atop the ravine walls. (This culvert is also featured in part one.)

“Recent” meaning 1980s: from High Street, 1981, 1980, 1987, as noted in the Franklin County Auditor’s web data.

Looking west to the far end of the tunnel of trees is a white and red building on the opposite side of where the street ends at High Street – overexposed in its lack of tree cover in contrast to verdant Walhalla.

Now looking and moving east, we’re soon at a pinch-point where the valley narrows and the stream is forced over to one side against the bedrock and glacial till valley wall. Understandably, it’s not happy, and has to be restrained by a retaining wall to prevent angrily washing out the road…which it has probably done in the past.

See? This is why you leave pretty little streams alone in their pretty little valleys. Like wild animals, they’re best left wild and appreciated in their natural context, so they don’t have to turn against you when pushed to their limits (and then executed because of stupid humans).

But yes, as Frank Lloyd Wright said about placing his “Fallingwater” house on top of its stream: If you could see it all the time, it wouldn’t stay special.

Then again, the familiarity of zipping by at 25 miles an hour might breed complacency and contempt here…but hopefully not for the pedestrians.

In the center of the road is another manhole cover to the sewer line under the road, and an asphalt patch beyond that. A little farther beyond is a small footbridge over the stream, discussed below. And past that and the orange cone is a concrete retaining wall where the road cuts into the steep slope below Weber Road, also below.
Here’s the shallowly arched concrete slab footbridge over the stream, leading to a series of steps up the slope to one of many houses overlooking the ravine from its top edge.
In this case, the 1927 Dutch Colonial backs up to California Avenue.
Beside that footbridge, straddling the lot line, are two exotic ornamental plants that fooled me at first.

On the left I thought the huge overarching yews were native hemlock, descendants of those herded slowly southward by the glaciers multiple times over the last one to two million years. On the right, I thought the…I’m still not sure what it is…arching over the bank, was the prickly invasive multiflora rose.

A sign shows the neighboring lot will soon be for sale: Homebuyers, here’s a couple unusual plant features possibly included with your piece of the ravine!
Continuing east, we reach the point where Walhalla and Weber try to touch, but never will, like Romeo and Juliet at their balcony. Walhalla on the ground gets a masculine retaining wall, while Weber leans over a feminine balustraded railing.

However, the Department of Water has dug a hole in the pavement and so the tragedy of the star-crossed streets has been delayed due to construction.
Looking back to the west, the stream continues babbling…or maybe grumbling…against the retaining wall. But its bed is widening now, so it has less to complain about. (Or rather, it’s narrowing, since we’re going upstream…but let’s keep the narrative simple.)
And here is its bed: A pleasant one, with glacial erratic boulders hauled by arctic ice from Canada, and shale bedrock pavement with rectilinear cracking from crustal warping in the distant past.

Any stream would be happy to lie down and babble here! “La la la, I’m a happy little brook…”
Continuing east, the lone bench in the whole ravine is mounted atop a culvert. (Only one? Residents, demand more!) But what looks like a simple undergrounding of the stream is a little more complex here at another pinch point. Let’s skip ahead to the house barely visible in the upper right, at the flowering redbud tree:
This is a nice little 1965 International styled house sitting on the south side of the ravine, a bit like Wright’s Fallingwater. (And that’s a compliment from me, a wild Postmodernist at heart – read my snarkiness on the stale styling of Olentangy Village and worse.)

Something that would blend in better might be preferred by some – but the contrast of simple and plain but elegant concrete block and maroon wood trim creates a dynamism with the natural setting.

And I must say it’s better than those three blander ‘Builder Modern’ houses at the west end that try too hard (or are too cheap and thoughtless), and end up breaking the rules the wrong way – e.g. oculus windows and projecting elements of the wrong size at the wrong location.

…And like Fallingwater, it partly sits atop its hydraulic setting:
Down within the stone courtyard in front of it is an odd bit of plumbing, which looks like it took a bit of calculating. The chamfered low rectangular culvert on the right feeds the creek under the road for a few hundred feet, to its end under the bench.

But that’s apparently only for times of heavy flow. The light flow of ordinary times never drops down off the shelf into the culvert – instead trickling into a much smaller semicircular culvert to the side (top left) that runs under the entry to the house…
…and then apparently out this little pipe by an erratic boulder, forming a slow pool west of the house…where it presumably overflows somewhere into the main culvert.

(If I were the owner, I would disguise that crass concrete culvert, and enhance the pool with wetland wildflowers and amphibian-friendly aquatics.)
But while the trickle flows under the gravel walkway or driveway, the big culvert is probably marked by this manhole cover over it in the centerline of the street.

Looking east, another manhole is farther along. Both probably access the sewer line, one ahead of the culvert and one atop, in case something goes wrong down there.

(Oh, and thanks for keeping the walkway or driveway halfway naturalistic with gravel – instead of a white sheet of concrete or black hole of asphalt!)
Farther west, another manhole cover is conveniently labeled. The blue paint but “dry” designation imply it is access to stormwater drainage, not sewer – and is probably fed into by this drain grate on the south edge of the road.

Either way, the two flows from the house weave westward…
…which then join together somewhere and babble out this cave-like tunnel with a cool outdraft.
Back to the hillside house: Its garage is at the top of the slope, on Weber Road. A walkway bridges that to its third floor above Walhalla. Like many houses here, its address is probably a split personality.

Below the slope is some exposed shale bedrock at the stream, and a few ferns…
…part of a charming little wildflower bed that features one of those little loaner libraries.
They’re a cute idea, and usually take after the house whose yard they are sited in…but not here.
Two species of native violets frolic here…and everywhere else. Good thing they’re edible and medicinal – otherwise they’d just be excessively pretty and overly abundant.
Two small understory trees flower over the garden: the state tree Buckeye on the left (working on conceiving mildly poisonous nuts), and the freaky legume Redbud on the right (its pea-like flowers and young seed pods are edible).
Next up, this 1934 limestone Tudor has a new stilted deck and fencing that desperately needs to weather grey. Again, this one has a split identity between above and below.
Across the way, a 1925 semi-bungalow perches on the north rim, a member of the first generation of residences in the Walhalla Park Place plat.
The same house, with its garage, backs up to California Avenue. The original clay tile roofing is an uncommon survivor.
Another modernistic looks like it was shoehorned next to the Calumet bridge
I hope the bridge is a good neighbor. Well…I know it it isn’t quite, after seeing a pizza box tossed onto the roof.
A view from the bridge. This 1940/2007 house will be for sale soon, too! (You might want to add curtains or blinds.)
Across the road is what appears to be a survivor of the original development of the ravine: a disused driveway culvert and two flying buttresses (one out of sight) reinforcing a retaining wall along the stream, all built of local limestone except…
…horizontal reinforcing of the wall by a long section of railroad rail. Judging by its smaller size, I’d say this was scrapped trolley tracks – possibly horsecar tracks made inadequate by electrification about c1890, and still lying around when the ravine was developed sometime between 1900 and 1910.
And catty-corner on the other side of the overpass is a unusual outlet from storm drains above, just upstream from the culvert under the road under the bridge.

(I know, “We want more bungalows and violets! Deer and owlets! Lose the concrete caves!” Sorry, I can’t help highlighting my irrational fears and aesthetic critiques.)
…catty-corner from the “Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum“…where I parked and started two of my visits to the ravine.
But…what do we have here, in the ravine just up from the bridge and beside the arboretum? And who’s head may have bounced down the hillside near this? Whose murderer may have hanged himself from Calumet bridge?…
…Supposedly because of an argument in this isolated house, atop forked tributaries?

More soon in part 3! (Hopefully before halloween. ; )

Olentangy Village: Pleasant but Stale Colonial Re-Re-Re-Revival…and Getting Staler

Or, Getting Snarky About Increasingly Unconsciously Overly Pretentious Minimal Traditional Style

(a.k.a Walhalla part 1.5)

Well, it’s more charming than most newer apartment buildings and complexes. Being older it probably has a few cracks in the walls and slightly crooked elements – and those are called patina: they lend character!

But even beyond that – what is the appeal of these timeless ‘old’ buildings built new at the end of the 1930s?

I literally walked into this topic while scouting out the hidden end of Walhalla Ravine (see previous blog) and couldn’t resist taking photos there. So before I got bored with the topic of…yawn…Colonial Revival, I figured I’d do a quick short blog about the Village. Yeah…famous last words.

An aerial view likewise looking south has High Street on the left, the commercial buildings guarding the entry at Kelso, and the residential space behind them to the right.

(The red line is the property border, which I can’t figure out how to eliminate from the Auditor’s aerials.)
This is the centerpiece of the campus, in the third rank from High Street but which intercepts the main entry after you get past the gauntlet of the commercial frontispiece. (“Italian carbs…ice cream…” <slobber>)

It reminds me of my 1989-1991 home at Ohio University, Bryan Hall, which was built only a decade later in the same phase of Colonial Revival.

Being symmetrical but somewhat hiding its bisection, it also reminds me of Smith school in Chillicothe, a noble 1931 high school lost recently. It also had two main entries on either side of its center.
But through the multiple archway (archways? archesway?) is a nice patio overlooking a completely wild mini-ravine, with the Olentangy River a stone’s throw away. Well, maybe two or three throws.
The design was sensitive enough to allow this tree to stay in place…or at least its predecessor, since this one doesn’t look like it was big enough 80 years ago to warrant this concession.

Perhaps the original tree was lost, and this one was planted in its place. Maybe the original tree was killed by construction…ok, this is getting increasingly pessimistic, so I’ll stop here…

Note the little divot under the end of the curve (at the window mirroring) to drain water off the patio via a shaoow channel along the outer wall. No PVC pipe or plastic drain cover from Lowe’s there – instead, original and solid design and construction.
The white cupola overlooks from center left, as trees crown the mini-ravine draining into the Olentangy at the right.
A few wildflowers persist on the grounds – surviving 220 years of deforestation, farming, development, redevelopment, footprints, mowing, and glyphosates. Native Spring Beauties flower white among yellow-flowered alien Lesser Celandine…next to a soulless concrete curb.

Admittedly, they could have spread up from the ravine, or been accidentally brought in with fill earth. But they’re here!

Where Are We, Again?

So here’s a map of the area, a screen shot from the Franklin County Auditor’s web data. The Olentangy is the blue ribbon, and High Street runs north-south at a slight diagonal right-of-center. Olentangy Village is the group of larger Tetris shapes in the center (see what I mean?). Newer units of the complex are subdivided and along the river.

Admittedly, the rectilinear zig-zagging adds variety and varied vistas in the complex. Every corner creates a new perspective, and separates units so they aren’t a continuous monotony like cheaper apartment complexes. Every projection is answered by a recess, exaggerating the already gracious undeveloped outdoor space.

Other features on the map are Clintonville residential streets running east-west on the right; Glen Echo Ravine on the south border of that; the older south part of Union Cemetery on the left side; and the OSU lab wetlands with the kidney-shaped ponds along the Olentangy.

Regarding my previous post about following the lost end of Walhalla Ravine: The rec trail runs from the upper left, crossing the river (with the sewer line dam to its right and the divot at the outlet of Walhalla creek beside that) and then splitting to go along both sides of the wetlands.

Walhalla creek itself is buried under the streets entering the north edge of the map. With Glen Echo on the south edge, the two frame the Village. Contour lines show the mini-ravine within the Village, in-line with West Kelso.
An aerial photo from the Franklin County Auditor’s web data is of the main part of the complex at about the same angle, looking north.

Kelso enters it from High Street at right center, the core with its white cupola is just left of center, and the Olentangy is barely in the lower left corner.

What Are We Talking About, Again?

Western architecture is fraught with the “Classical.” Our revered, ennobled, semi-mythical origins in Greece and Rome have been repeated ad infinitim since the Renaissance (literally, “rebirth” of classical culture) in our architecture – with columns and pediments and arches, oh my!

(The wild Medieval, like an undisciplined weed, has fared less well in Western culture.)

Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, Georgian, Adam/Federal, Neoclassical, Renaissance Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Beaux Arts, Second Renaissance Revival…the same vocabulary and rules recombined, cycling between restraint and extravagance in Europe and its spawns and mimics.

Our more recent American origins are repeated ad infinitim in the U.S. as various generations of the “Colonial Revival” style. Yes, we celebrate our independence by recycling the style of our overseas masters! – considered to start in our centennial in 1876.

Since then, each generation has developed its own version of the Colonial Revival: Creative and recombinant High Victorian that little resembled the originals, about 1876-1900; the “National” era with the boldness and simplicity of the new American empire of 1893-1918; playful jazz-age cartoonish versions 1918-1931; rigid, archaeologically accurate, true revivalism with ingenuity only in hiding modern needs in an old veneer during the cultural repression of 1929-1947; economically liberated but automotively debased Postwar 1947-1963; increasingly tepid “Minimal Traditional” 1963-1980s; a new reductionist minimalism of the 1980s…and so on.

“MinTrad” deserves the most scorn, with its veneer of imitation-clinker brick, poorly-proportioned windows, and de rigueur fake shutters on ranch houses that bear as much similarity to colonial architecture as a Chevette does to a horsecart. Gack.

(At least Olentangy Village features a decent compromise of modernity and calm traditionalism…well, the original part does. See below.)

In my opinion, the first great new version of the Classical – since the Greek Revival in its prime of the 1830s-1840s – arose in the 1970s and ’80s: the Post-Modern.

Fed up with the lies of Modernism (“less is a bore!”) and feeding on the economic rally after the low point of 1973, the new philosophy fed on glitz, snarkiness, honesty, and mannerism. Even the name hints at honest self-effacement: if “Modern” is the eternal Now, how can say we’re from the Future?

So Google some PostMod images, and stick your tongue out at Mies van der Rohe and blow raspberries at Levittown: Turn a skyscraper into a grandfather clock, add some color to a deconstructed pediment, and put neon on an outdoor sculpture!

Back to the Old New Past

In the second rank from High Street, facing away from it, this is one of the more highly styled parts, complete with quoined arcaded gablets, faux balconied stoop porches, and arcaded hyphens at both ends. These must be the more pricey apartments.

(‘Coined arched grabill…what?!’ Sorry, classically derived architecture has a vocabulary of its own. Ask me if you want to borrow a guide book.)
An aerial view of the same angle has that porch upper left of center. Note the white-roofed strongly Tetrised unit on its right. (Kudos for the white roofing – that’s better than the solar oven of traditional black.)

New units on Sunset Cove are in the lower left (more on those below) and the Olentangy is in the lower left corner.

The Old New Now

….The new “Olentangy Point” part is shoehorned to the side behind the center complex. With the Olentangy River being flood-controlled, they can build on the lower terrace. But by regulation or sensibility – and/or efficient land use and/or profitability – the ground level is only garage space.

On these rears of the units, the transomed and tripled windows are a nice touch, but barely noticeable. At least the useless fake shutters maintain the slightest reference to the Colonial Revival of the original complex!
The terraced tight triad has the Olentangy in the upper right and the mini-ravine at the upper left.

Meanwhile, Back at High Street…

The fragrance of food wafts from the turreted frontispieces.

Rather, the original theme was a cozy, semi-set-back, articulated, residential-feeling commercial pavilion – not a tall massive block. (But nice try…unless rentable space was the prime motivator.)

And it doesn’t help that a typical mall-type grocery store and its asphalt desert next up on the south yanks the architectural viewer into yet another and lesser geographical ovré.

There’s some imitation and revivalism here (specifically, from Renaissance Italy – yes, Classicism pervades!), but much more creativity and ingenuity from probably the last truly free architectural generation…before being strangled into conformity by the Great Depression, World War II, and the reflexive postwar conservatism…relieved only by the hyperventilated mania of the Post-Modern.

*Btw, I believe these are the “Lofts on High.” Some sales hype: “our newest community located directly off High Street in historical Clintonville. These homes offer an urban feel in an unbeatable location. Each loft offers an 8′ window that stretches from the living room to the open loft above and is a dramatic focal point. These newly built lofts also feature a modern and industrial kitchen. These kitchens have an open feel and are highlighted by stainless steel appliances. If you are in search of a truly unique home in a trendy neighborhood then The Lofts on High is for you.”

But What About Its Predecessor?

Plenty has been written about that, and I won’t go over all of it. But for the uninitiated, the apartment (and shopping) complex of Olentangy VILLAGE is there because it replaced an amusement park named Olentangy PARK.

It was a typical development at the end of a trolley line (in this case, the Columbus Railway Power and Light Company) that encouraged paying customers to ride the trolleys on weekends.

The park was begun in 1880, but declined in the 1930s, and its rides were finally sold off and the land redeveloped into what is there now. (The restored carousel is at the Columbus Zoo.) One aspect of the trolley line remains nearby, part of the old powerhouse on Arcadia near High.

Wikipedia has a good entry, complete with old postcard views:

Olentangy Park (1880 to 1939) was an amusement park in Columbus, Ohio. The park was once the largest in the United States…

Near the river, a large theatre was constructed. At the time, it was the largest theatre in the United States…

A significant addition to Olentangy Park in the 1920s was the world’s largest swimming pool which was constructed near the theatre…

Olentangy Park closed in September 1938. In the first part of 1939, much of the area was levelled so that the L.L. LeVeque* company could build the Olentangy Village apartment complex. The complex was designed by Raymond Snow, a Washington, D.C. architect…

The only remaining building is the park’s office and zoo keeper’s quarters. The stone building is located at the curve of North Street.** It has been divided into six apartments.

Some of the Park’s original wrought iron fencing can still be seen along the northern side of North Street from High Street to the curve at the stone office house….

*As in the LeVeque Tower, the best-looking skyscraper in downtown Columbus.

**I have not verified whether it’s still there, after the recent (and somewhat controversial) additions to the Village.

There’s also “The Lost Amusement Parks Of Columbus By Madeline Keener“…

…and a seven-minute episode of local PBS’ Columbus Neighborhoods:Olentangy Park” (Season 3, Episode 18).

Next: NOT commenting on the latest generation, Colonial Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Revival…instead, perhaps reveling in the gleeful self-deprecation of honest paradoxical Post-Modernism.

• The end…but not of Classicism! •

A Well into Walhalla – Seeking the Rest of Clintonville’s Ravine (Walhalla part 1)

Or, How Grate It Is – and Are There Any Valkyries Down There?

Walhalla Ravine: What happens to this urban micro-canyon…

…when it hits the asphalt and concrete no-man’s-land of the High Street corridor?

But first: HOW did it get that NAME?!

Wikipedia notes that “the streets in the Walhalla Park Place section of Clintonville bear the legacy of Mathias Armbruster, a Bavarian immigrant who was fascinated with Norse mythology and Wagnerian opera…”

More from “Clintonville Street Names” in Clintonville History: “Walhalla was named by Mathias Armbruster, an immigrant from Bavaria and the first owner of the ravine (1859). In Norse mythology, Walhalla means ‘The Great Hall of Dead Warriors.’

“Other streets named for mythological characters include Brynhild (a queen of Iceland), Midgard (god of the earth), Mimring (god of water) and Gudrun (a Nordic princess).”

Wikipedia includes Druid Street in its list; my Celtic heritage feels slighted that Clintonville History has omitted it, if it belongs on the list. I wouldn’t know; I haven’t watched any Wagner…except for Bugs Bunny’s interpretation.

Maybe I can dig up that old animated ‘five-minute’ explanation, but I can’t find it on Youtube…

Meanwhile, Back at the Pavement

Peering through the openings (in the direction of flow)…
…It’s a deep well-like shaft down to flowing water. On the west side, to the right, is a thick slab of poured concrete undergirding the road over about a third of the shaft. To the west-southwest, a pipe maybe four feet down drains from sumps in the adjacent driveway.

Curiously, a historical photo shows what appears to be a steel cover over this opening. Ooh…historical documentation of an underground thing that no one notices as they walk or drive over it…yummy. (There’s also a trolley or interurban line running down the center of a narrower divided High Street. If only…)
At the very bottom of the brick well is…a hole into a tunnel! This is the creek that flows through Walhalla Ravine, getting its first – and probably last – shaft of daylight after a hundred feet of tunnel.

Poor thing. This is the best it will get for the next 1,500 feet.

It’s flowing to the west, to the right. The tunnel looks like rough unreinforced concrete, which would date it maybe from 1890 to WWI.

I can’t post videos here unless I pay for the privilege, so see my moving look into this dwarvish abode on my IHS Facebok page.

A Pearl Between Paradise and Peril

Looking east (upstream) from the grate and High Street are two pavement features. The square grate is one of two drain gratings over sumps in the driveway (of the apartments to the right), which then feed in under that main grate.

In the median on the left is a row of old stone curbing, lying flat. (Yes, that edge of the street a few inches tall must go down about three feet to be solidly anchored below the frost line in this climate.) The Walhalla culvert is buried deeply just to the left of the median.

And farther back, the wooden privacy fence separates Pearl Alley and this urban oblivion from the blunt end of Walhalla Ravine and its creek trickling through verdant slopes.
In this reverse view, looking west (downstream), the main grate is at the far end of the parking lot, on the edge of High Street. I’m standing atop the creek, which flows under this side of the median.

On the far side of High is a gravel parking area. In the distance, the tall grey trees are sycamores. More below on these two subjects.

To the left (south) is a recent low-rise apartment building, and to the right (north) an oriental food establishment. Keep these landmarks in mind for orientation.

Pray, Live, Die…Wait…

This endangered historic building at 3100 North High Street has sat on the high ground to the north of Walhalla Ravine for about 180 years. A graveyard used to be behind it…and some of its inhabitants are probably still there.

(Here’s a historical photo of about the same angle, though a small image.)

This was Clinton Chapel. An entry in Shirley Hyatt’s Clintonville History reports:

“When Thomas Bull, one of Clintonville’s early settlers, died in 1823, he left land in his will to build a church for the members, and that church was erected 15 years later at 3100 North High Street near Walhalla Road & High Street. Southwick Good Fortkamp Funeral Chapel occupies that building today [or did].

“The church membership decided in 1881 to sell the chapel and move the church to the thriving community of North Columbus, and they built a new church on East Tompkins.”

In another entry:

“Alonson Bull and his brother Jason were abolitionists, Jason serving as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad from Clinton Chapel at 3100 North High Street…

“Edward L. Sebring (1839?-1905) worked with Jason Bull to aid fugitive slaves escaping to freedom in Canada from Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, to the next safe station.”

In yet another entry:

“Mathias Armbruster was born in Wurtenburg Germany in 1839 and came to the U.S.A. in 1858. He operated Armbruster Scenic Studios in Columbus—he painted scenic theatrical stage sets.

“Armbruster purchased the area around what is now known as Walhalla Ravine, and converted Clinton Chapel at 3100 North High Street into his private residence…[later the] Southwick-Good-Fortkamp funeral home…

“Mathias eventually sold most of the acreage to a real estate developer, and helped name the streets after his beloved Wagner Ring Operas. Mathias died in Columbus in 1920.”

Clintonville History has three photos of and from the house, including unfilled Walhalla Ravine. (Unfortunately, they’re small, but I think the author wants you to buy her book.)

Preservationists are worried about the fate of this site. From an August 2018 Urban Ohio forum:

“A children’s day-care center is being proposed for a shuttered Clintonville funeral home that preservation groups had listed as an endangered historic site.  Plans for the former Southwick-Good & Fortkamp Funeral Chapel, 3100 N. High Street, will be discussed at the Clintonville Area Commission meeting…

“Mark Smith of CD Advisors, which represents the day-care operators, said the building would be renovated, but the historic structure would not be altered. … He said there is a lot of demand for a day care in the Clintonville area.  Nearby residents were worried that apartments or condominiums would be built on the site near Walhalla Ravine.

“The building contains the Clinton Chapel, which dates to 1838 and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  In October 2017, Preservation Ohio listed the Clinton Chapel as among its most endangered sites in Ohio.  The Columbus Landmarks Foundation also put the building on its most endangered list last year.”

The forum also includes a link to a Dispatch article with a nice interior photo over the lobby.

I haven’t found a follow-up article, but the on-site “for sale” sign states the 1.345 acre property has been sold.

(Here’s a historical photo from a similar perspective – though from the chapel house’s rooftop – of the unfilled ravine…one of those small images.)

A Short Walk into Walhalla

A little “WATER” cover in the pavement is an accurate label for what flows alongside most of Walhalla Road in Walhalla Ravine. Looking east, the one-way street ends here anonymously at High, between the funeral home and food market.

I’m betting the road was cut into the ravine’s hillside behind the funeral home (which exposed this shale) to allow the road to climb out of the ravine. The gully veers a little southward, where its stream heads to the fill next to High Street.

Close to the exit of the ravine and across from the shale bank is an almost nondescript ‘contemporary’ house, that last house in paradise. But if you’re in a wonderful natural area – even if only one lot away from High Street – you don’t need no stylin.’

The creek flows to the south (left) of this house and into the culvert under the fence along Pearl Alley…until it empties into the Olentangy roughly 1,500 feet away.
Farther into the ravine, looking east, green paint identifies a manhole cover for the sewer line under the road. The creek is pinched in on the north (left), and a house is on the right. Weber Road skirts the edge atop the bluff ahead on the right.
Turned around to look west and returning to High Street, in this view Walhalla’s creek goes through a halfway attractive newer culvert, under its road, to switch to the south side of the road for the last time in the ravine.

I don’t know if the stream that flows through Walhalla Ravine and beside Walhalla Road is named “Walhalla” – or if it is a stream, run, creek, fork, branch, or whatever – so I’ll just refer to it as ‘Walhalla creek,’ sans capitalization of the second word.

(I believe East North Broadway was formerly just Broadway, but when the area was annexed into Columbus, it was overly renamed to avoid confusion with downtown’s Broad Street.)

Crossing Over

Again, that historical photo of High Street shows a trolley or interurban line running down the center of a divided High Street with a power line on both sides of the tracks. These manhole covers may show where those wires were (thankfully) buried where they stood. (If only ALL overhead wires were buried…grrr.)

Another manhole cover is closer in my photo, in the concrete pad for a bus stop – yet another utility only hinted at from above. But behind us…

…Looking west yet again: beyond a narrow street-side gravel parking area is another manhole – but projecting out of the slope in the fill in the center of the photo.

This is typical when a sewer line runs through a lowland, but is inexplicable here…except as an access to the covered-over culvert of Walhalla creek, where additional fill is anticipated. (Yay! Make flat Columbus more flat!)

In the distance is the unfilled continuation of the ravine, with brick buildings visible on its north (right) side.

Living in the Dry Ravine

That dark green paint is probably “Hunter Green,” named after Chillicothe’s Dard Hunter I, who popularized that shade during the Arts & Crafts movement of the first part of the 20th century.

The Tudor Re-Re-Revival style was popular when these were built.
The quad on the left attempts to inject some International styling to the neighborhood with a large cubist foyer / muzzle / schnoz.
Twins, but for a desperate attempt at differentiation.
Meanwhile, back at the poor smothered stream in the middle of this amphitheatered ravine of false-medieval buildings: looking east again, with the cul-de-sac and low-rise apartments in the background. This manhole cover in a streetside lawn is probably an access to the tubed creek underneath it.
A lightly styled storm sewer drain cover hints at when the neighborhood was built: 1922.
And beside that drain, in the wide level forelawn, is another manhole, again probably to the buried stream. Looking east, the culvert is now on the north (left) side of the street.

(Unless someone uses this grass as a golf course, football pitch, or volleyball court, it’s a total waste of a tortured monoculture.)
West Tulane is the road / street that occupies Walhalla Ravine west of High Street. An unrecognizable northern Neil Avenue swerves into it and then out again in a double intersection.
One of the few single houses on the street is an early split-level, probably dating between 1947 and 1963 (the “Early Postwar” period).

And this is a good split level – a “tri-level,” the Best New House Type of the 20th Century. (Those bi-levels are just stupid, and are the Worst New House Type of the 20th Century.)
West Tulane is rudely cut off by a fence and dumpster corral on the northern edge of Olentangy Village, where the street continues as Sunset Drive. Note three drain covers diagonally across the intersection of Tulane with the bisecting alley.
Within: nothing to write home about. Like this middle one, each shallow drain is a crumbling concrete trough that halfheartedly directs water, with flakes of concrete and asphalt rapids.
Looking back, northeast from the Village’s fence, are the same three drain covers.

(In the background is a FedEx man looking to deliver to “Tony Stank.” But he happens to be parked in Walhalla, so he really should be asking for Thor…before Loki slinks out of a drain hole and complicates matters…)

Into THE Village

…We have a pre-cast concrete drain with cast-in-place rungs leading down to a maybe 4′ pre-cast concrete culvert pipe. Boring and sanitized, like the garages. No brick! No rocks! No alligators! Meh.

I think there’s a more subtle culvert opening in the lower left. I doubt they would have built this drain over, and saddling directly into, Walhalla creek: side feeds are usually routed indirectly from the side. But they may have been more direct here, and so Walhalla creek may flow right through this pit.
Looking the opposite way: southwest towards the Olentangy River (and that radio antenna), and the gravel path from the Village to the recreational trail along the river.

From Ravine into River

Turning around and looking downstream from the bridge, one of several sewer line crossings of the river create a low-head dam. These are deceptively dangerous to swimmers and boaters, as they will twirl you vertically below them like an evil mini surfing wave, so that it takes hours to finally recover your dead body…thus the red warning sign.

But what’s that dark opening in the center, like a portal to the hall of the dead?…
…It’s Walhalla, finally coming to light after being buried since Pearl Alley and High Street! The battered concrete outlet releases the stream that starts east of Indianola Avenue near Studio 35.
…about possible sanitary sewer overflow during heavy rain or meltwater. But fortunately, the Solution to Pollution is Dilution – especially if it’s strong enough to chew away poured concrete and push debris big enough to bend rebar.
But the Oldandgrungy…er, Olentangy…is placid for now, and hosts geese below the dam and bridge.
What’s in the tunnel / culvert / gateway to / exit from Walhalla? Only future explorations will confirm if there be dragons…or armored winged women. Bring your ale and mead, for now we feast to celebrate our glorious death!

Soon, part two: From High to Indianola – Walhalla in the open, a murdering madman’s mansion, a trio of deer and of owlets and of shales, pricey properties, white bluebells, a respite from FLATlumbus, “what’s under THAT manhole?”…and more!

Ikke verdens ende…

The Columbus Trolley Barn Complex – A Great Survivor, But Can It Be Saved? And Saved Well?

Part One: Current Events

I first learned about this industrial remnant in an article about several properties in Columbus gaining tax credits. It intrigued me that there was a huge abandoned railroad building in Cap City that I didn’t know about, so I posted a summary of the tax credit praises about it on Facebook. (Railroads are one of my interests in transportation history, geography, and preservation – in addition to canals and trails.)

Signs asking voters to allow profitable alcohol licensing on the site hang from the perimeter fence of the 3.1 acre property at Kelton & Oak avenues, half a block south of Franklin Park and its conservatory, off East Broad Street in eastern Columbus.

In my internet researching of the topic, I found a 2010 web entry on Urban Ohio, with informative comments added over the last eight years. “The six brick buildings at Oak Street and Kelton Avenue just south of Franklin Park were built between 1880 and 1920 to serve the city’s streetcar system.”

The 2010 Urban Ohio post began by pointing to a Facebook page for the project. It also mentions the Columbus Compact Corporation wanting to develop the site – “a nonprofit community development corporation working to improve the quality of life in the central city” – but since their entry on it is gone now, they must have given up on being a part of it.

Comments on the Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn Facebook page have gotten corrosive about Columbus city council, so scroll past the recent screeds to get to solid information about the property. They have several photos of a community tour and visioning session on September 4th 2010, some of which include Columbus’ Bob Loversedge, a highly reputed preservation planner in Ohio who was a major part of the Ohio Statehouse renovation:

A screen shot of the 2010 tour and visioning photos on the Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn Facebook page

The Facebook page also has computer renderings from 2012. They are fairly basic, as if there was not much budget at the time and they were done on a laptop or in a web app. They also show the buildings to be used as they are, with no attempt at restoration or expansion:

A screen shot of 2012 renovation rendernings, on the Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn Facebook page

So be it; as a preservationist, I’m ok with saving things as they are, if they’re worth saving. But if there’s an opportunity to restore or better interpret a historical building or site while renovating for a new life, I want to see it.

The almighty dollar dictates terms…but with the upturn in construction activity in the recovery from the Great Recession, more might be possible now. (They way Columbus construction is now, I’m surprised they aren’t replacing some corner gas station stop-and-rob with the Tower of Babel.)

A 2012 renovation renderning, on the Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn Facebook page. (Compare to the below 2017 rendering at a similar angle – by a different developer.)

In 2014, Columbus Underground reported on the property’s sale; a commentator on Urban Ohio was exuberant: “Great news about the Franklin Park Trolley Barn property!  The bad old owner has sold it to a good new owner.  No announced plans for the property yet.  But this is a BIG step in the right direction toward its redevelopment.”

An April 21st, 2014 article reports:

Brad DeHays, who opened Rehab Tavern in Franklinton and has been working with the city on an affordable housing development Downtown, is the new owner of the property. The purchase of the site from Minnie McGee (who bought it in 2003), follows many years of legal wrangling and neighborhood complaints about the condition of the structures.

…such as a January 11, 2013 Columbus environmental court appearance by McGee:

“Essentially nothing has been done,” Judge Hale said, adding that her [McGee’s] plans are “farfetched.”  “You ain’t fooling me.  There’s no way you’re getting the millions to do this.  This place is either going to get redeveloped or sold,” Hale said.

She owned it while the community group Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn were championing its preservation and community-focused reuse. So if the judge were not overly cynical, I can see that McGee may have been either being unrealistically hopeful to redevelop the site, or was using them to delay punishment for neglecting it. Either way, conditions have changed.

On October 12th, 2017, Columbus Underground had reported ‘New Plan for Trolley Barn Site Calls for “East Market,” Restaurants and Apartments.’ The article has some good context and stronger renderings – and slightly different plans that are less artsy and more pedestrian…or rather, more automotive:

Columbus Underground reported: A Columbus Brewing Company tap room, a new concept from the owner of Ray Ray’s and an “East Market” could all be part of a new plan to revive the deteriorating brick buildings that were once used to store and repair trolleys at the northeast corner of Oak Street and Kelton Avenue on the Near East Side.

Apartments are also tentatively planned for the empty lot across Oak Street from the trolley barn site [upper right in the rendering], although developer Brad DeHays of Connect Realty stressed that nothing is set in stone, and likely won’t be until the state announces in December if the project is approved for historic tax credits.

More renderings are in the tail end of the 2010 Urban Ohio post.

I believe getting alcohol sales approval from voters in the fall 2018 ballot was part of the plan to make the site more worth renovating, as listed on the signs posted on the perimeter fence. Issues 23 and 24 were to allow all sales all hours on the site…but it’s ridiculous that my internet search can’t confirm whether they passed or failed. (So much for the internet knowing everything…or maybe it’s just user error.)

But in the search, I came across Wikipedia’s entry on the Franklin Park neighborhood/district, which includes a little bit on the trolley site, and a historical map covering the east side of Columbus in 1899. (Click on that map to find links to larger versions of it.)

The last entry on the 2010 Urban Ohio post, December 2018, is “Trolley Barn project awarded a second round of historic tax credits from the state this month.” So at least that has succeeded.

But back to the Friends of Franklin Park Trolley Barn Facebook page – the best gem I found there was a historical map. (Ooh yummy! A map! An OLD map! A detailed OLD map!) So I will steal this image from their Facebook page:

It looks like a Sanborn Fire Insurance map, but I’m not sure if it was part of a published volume – the other Columbus Sanborns I’ve been able to find lack some details present in this one. This may have been a special 1909 report expanded by Sanborn for the owners.

…Ok, I’ve rambled on, and have barely covered the existing site and all my photos of it and my interpretation of its history…so, more soon – allowing the best of my 150+ photos and videos of the site to inspire me to compose further.

Paint Shop…
…and peeking inside
Pit Room (in ruins) and Machine Shop
Office and Boiler House
Carpenter Shop and Machine Shop
Car Storage House
Brake Foundry

~ ce n’est pas la fin ~

Park Street in Columbus – Samples of Stasis and Flux in the North Market District, Goodale Park, Short North, Vicky Village…and More

The first of 17 arches reconstructed to High Street, at the south end of the “Short North” – but what’s happening ‘behind the scenes,’ behind the curtain of increasing commercial tidiness and rising rents? Here’s an abbreviated version of a slide show I might present sometime.
Where I started my photo session on the morphing edge of the Arena District…or maybe North Market District? Either way, $2 an hour parking near a lone surviving house on the edge of the I-670 canyon…on a street shorter than its name.
Yet another facadectomy to maintain appearances, but to allow a major increase in rentable space and modern comforts. The back of this old theater on Park Street opposite Swan Street, lastly a bar, has been cleared out, as well as parts or all of neighboring buildings…including the second-to-the-last house in the district, formerly in the foreground.
The final indignity to a long-neglected iron fence in front of that house – its beheaded limestone sill knocked about after demolition.  On the near, loose stone, the unsmoothed back face (now facing up) sat facing inside the fencing, covered with the uphill lawn.  The slightly crested upper surface (now left side) held the fence posts (seated into poured lead) which have been cut off. From everyday craftsmanship…to rubble.
An accidental self-portrait while looking through a window…and through the building.
OUPS! – what’s under your feet? What are they trying to avoid during demolition and construction? Much more than you might think. (I believe orange indicates electrical cables.)
Around the corner, looking into the main unit of the redevelopment – the theater lobby…and through. What will this be turned into?
The skyscrapers of the metropolis watch over the former warehouse and manufacturing districts – now well on their way to being trendy neo-urban communities that adequately reuse and recall their origins. The facade of the demolished theater is at the far right edge.
The freeway that cuts through and divides the districts, I-670, is deservedly banished under Park, Gooodale and High streets…but not after destroying linear acres of townscape and devaluing to death the railroads and Union Station in the 1960s and 1970s. Thankfully along High Street, a “cap” was added about 2002 with imitation-Union-Station micro-shops.
This c1880-1900 carved stone and wrought iron gateway to Goodale Park, on Goodale Street near Park Street, is reminiscent of the huge Victorian public institutions in Columbus with its mansarded toppings. I believe all but one of those institution buildings have been demolished – leaving the Ohio State School for the Blind (now the Columbus Department of Public Health) at Parsons and Main.
The c1900-1920 office building on the left still has more class than its new neighbor, which sports styling that turns its back on 60 years of dehumanizing modernism, and instead effects the classical vocabulary that has made buildings appealing for millennia. Park Street between Poplar and Millay, with a view of Goodale Park.
Tidy paving brick in Milay Alley indicates this was all relaid after redevelopment of the surrounding buildings – including the previous and following photographed buildings.
The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America (UCT) was formed by eight traveling salesmen on January 16, 1888, in Columbus, Ohio, as a society to provide accident insurance and other benefits for traveling salesmen, or commercial travelers, and their families.” Their former 1923 home overlooking Goodale Park and backing up to High Street commerce is eminently suitable as the Pizzuti Branch of the Columbus Museum of Art.
Hah! Witty. No further comment necessary. (Other than noting the paving stones reused as pavement here – one of my favorite Columbus topics).
Across from the insurance office (now art museum) is a 1907 monument to one of its founding members, moved back to the park recently with the help of a forklift (but missing something on each corner plinth). It’s a charming classical tripod. Charles Benton Flagg was United Commercial Traveler’s first Masonic-sounding “Supreme Secretary.”
The top of the Flagg Monument. Yes, classicism can work with curves.
Probably a very early storm sewer drain, a rare survivor and probably the earliest I’ve seen – thick cast iron or steel. The granite curb to the right is probably the same c1907 date, but everything else has been replaced. At the entry to Goodale Park at the Flagg Memorial.
The bulky but tidy side of a c1870-1900 commercial building renovated at the corner of High Street and Millay Alley. But what is that door in the base of the massive chimney? It all looks original. I’m betting it was a bakery.
Cool photo, huh?  What – you don’t see it?  I mean, them? There’s at least a dozen features of subterranea in this one view – storm sewer grates, water line valve covers, sanitary sewer manhole cover, electrical vault grille, curb cut drain…look at all that! No, don’t yawn at me. On Russel Street between the entrance to a parking garage and Victorian Gate.
“Victorian Gate” apartments, now condos, one of the first major redevelopments in the district from 1995. Decently styled infill (though I wonder what it replaced).
It looks like Victorian Gate (right) was inspired largely by the c1890-1910 apartment row catty-corner to it (left) at Buttles and Park, viewed from a corner of Goodale Park. Change the color, include creature comforts, use cheaper standard contemporary construction, let its comfy appearance sell it…yup.
That’s not stone – that’s pressed sheet metal. And it might be a Mesker, like 42 East 2nd Street in Chillicothe, 276-278 Main Street in Jackson (“The Smurf”), and 161-163 East Main Street in Circleville.
Just gotta be SO avant garde that we cut through a bearing wall.  The Russel Street side of a commercial building, facing Victorian Gate.
Clunky and crude, but at least with all the concrete, PVC pipe, and cretesoted pine, they made it easy to pull yet more cables in. (Is that pipe turning into a pumpkin?).
“Melp! I need somebody…Melp! Not just anybody…Meh-eh-elp…” Sorry, Beatles, couldn’t help it. The internet tells me the manhole cover might be abbreviating “Municipal Electric Lighting Plant,” but that’s apparently not what Columbus called their electric plant – so this and other MELP covers in the city might have been on sale from the foundry. It’s paired up with a grilled underground vault for electrical transformers or other power thingies, which can also be used as a torture device for neurotic pedestrians. Outside Victorian Gate on Russel Street.
New storm sewer and sanitary sewer access points are seated in an alley-street whose brick was clearly relaid in conjunction with new construction behind the camera. But older unrenovated c1890-1920 apartment buildings crowd this intersection…awaiting redevelopment.
…Including this c1890-1910 12-unit apartment building. Or is it 11 units? The garage bay appears to be original. The high basement would help to separate the residences a little more from traffic on the glorified alley.
A view of the rear shows it is not as solid as it looks – light wells allow air, neighborly gaps…and light…into narrow, deep L-shaped apartment units. From above, the building looks like a capital “E.”
All three of these cozy, early-twentieth-century styled residences on Park between Hubbard and Lundy are brand new, with brick veneer on steel and styrofoam, concrete block, or ferroconcrete. Hmmm…I guess people don’t like ugly buildings when they can afford better.
A row of early twentieth-century houses on Park Street are framed by equally old apartment buildings…and back up to commercial buildings on bustling High Street. Talk about two sides of one block.
Pink as a power color! And I’ll bet the yard looks much better when it’s alive. A Queen Anne with most of its details intact on Park Street near Hubbard, one of many namesakes of Victorian (or “Vicky”) Village.
Ooh…one of those manhole-in-a-manhole. Gotta get a snapshot!  Don’t worry, the light had only just turned green.  For a few seconds.
Left-to-right: The fading sunset paints the I-270 cap along High Street, mimicking the 1976-demolished Columbus Union Station; Goodale Street runs into the Columbus Collision Center…oops, sorry, Convention Center, which sprawls out from the Union Station site; and the Greek Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral awaits Greek Fest.

Want to learn more? Maybe I’ll give a presentation on the lessons Chillicothe can learn from Columbus. I’m also available for tours of any kind, even in Columbus. If I don’t know the local history, you’d be surprised how much I can interpret from what’s there – architectural styles, dates of construction, details hidden in plain sight, cultural geography, historic preservation and interpretation…

Phone Book Highlights Downtown Towers (Part 3)

(98) Horizon - The delivery of the official Horizon Chillicothe 12801104_979813132089414_8080374738426292447_n
Continuing my dialogue on my six “towers” seen on the cover of the new Horizon phone book: 

The Tower That Would Have Been

Tower number four in my list is still a tower, but would have been more towering if it weren’t for a real estate bubble.  This is the current Huntington Bank building on the corner opposite the Courthouse and Carlisle, at the northeast corner of Paint and Main.

A popular photo reproduced everywhere shows its predecessor, and the entire streetscape north past the Warner Hotel, along with a “Red Devil Tobacco” sign hanging above 3 North Paint.  The best I can figure, that photo dates to sometime between 1896 and 1899.*

This corner lot and that three-story 1836 building was tied up in an estate for almost 50 years until it was bought by the Savings Bank Company in 1893.**

The bank had apparently been created by the Central National Bank, which had been established in 1883 in the current site of “Market No. 9” at 9 West Second.  When Central National Bank moved across that street in 1887, Savings Bank moved into 9 West Second.  Then after Savings Bank had owned the corner of Paint & Main for 14 years, in 1907 Central National Bank announced plans for their new building on that site.

Confused?  Yeah, that’s why I don’t bother to keep my checkbook balanced, either.

Panic Trumps Tower

So, Central National Bank hired nationally renowned architect Frank Packard to give Chillicothe its “first skyscraper” – an eight-story tower.  Packard is known for some of Columbus’ earliest skyscrapers, including the extant Wyandotte Hotel and Seneca Hotel.***

He also designed other buildings here, though most have been lost, including the Mount Logan Sanitarium where the OU-C childhood center is, and the Scioto Valley Traction Company station on East Main where the Amvets parking lot is.

However, the Federal Reserve had not yet been created to make predictably recurring financial “panics” into profitable depressions,**** so the one that popped up in 1907 quashed the tower idea – or rather, squashed it.  It was compressed to half its height.

But you can imagine what it would have looked like – the towers of that day were modeled after classical columns: a wider, solid-looking base; simpler and repetitive narrower floors comprising the shaft; and a flaring ornamented top being the capital.  So, simply repeat the third floor of the building as-built four more times to get the idea.  (Hmm, sounds like a Photoshop project.)

If I recall correctly, Martha Gerber Rittinger has told me her family was the building  contractor, working across the street from their earlier work in the Carlisle Building.

I’m still not sure what these are. I think there’s a fasces* at the bottom, and maybe two angled cornucopia coming out the sides. If so, those are interesting symbols to put on a bank building!

Instead of a steel skyscraper frame, the Central National Bank building was built in brick, but with modern tera cotta ornament and Beaux Arts styled windows.*****  Look closely at the cornice – the paraphrased classical ornament is still very modernistic even a century later.

The bank itself was intended to occupy the basement and first floor, with offices to rent in the second and third floors, and space for a “lodge” or meeting hall on the fourth.  (Imagine 100% more real estate there as intended!)

Another Financial Curtailment

In 1934, Great Depression-era laws started restricting banks, and so Central National Bank was liquidated and Savings Bank moved from 9 West Second to Paint & Main.

A two story addition on Main Street was built in 1953, which was probably the time the inappropriate marble cladding, casement windows, and metal sheathing were installed on the first and second floors of the original building.  (Hopefully those can be removed sometime in the future to restore one of Chillicothe’s pre-eminent examples of early-20th century architecture.)

I believe Huntington National Bank absorbed Savings Bank and any remnants of Central National Bank when it occupied the building starting in 1968.

And while their neighbor was in the spotlight, Huntington hosted a meeting on renovating the Carlisle in their disused second or third floor.  Hopefully, as the economy improves, that and other parts of our stubby skyscraper will become economical and inhabited, like the Carlisle.

* In the photo, the facade on 19 N. Paint is 1896 or later, and the facade on 15-17 N. Paint is pre-1899, per Pat Medert’s information.  The electric trolley also appears to be a four-wheel “bobber,” though I forget the date of those.  (This photo is also the prototype for one of the popular 1980s series of waercolor prints offered by Citizens’ National Bank.)  

** A founding member and stockholder was Frederick Stacey, an English-native ex-Cincinnatian who was clearly financially astute.  In a recurring portrait photo, he’s  informally sitting in a chair, looking confident and maybe cocky, chewing on a stogie and wearing a bowler hat – which makes me consider him a Donald Trump of late-nineteenth-century Chillicothe (all politics aside).  I believe he was also the namesake of a real estate development in Chillicothe’s west side.  

*** For a start, see <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Packard&gt;. 

**** Yes, that’s conspiracy theory.  But I’ve seen enough proof that is far beyond theory.   Please don’t debate me unless you’ve looked into it yourself! 

***** See similar windows on the similarly styled old Post Office two blocks south.  

*(caption) Oops, not a caduceus – that’s for medicine.  I’m confusing my esoteric ancient/classical western symbols.  I’m guessing it might be a fasces – for executive power?   Even worse on a bank!  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces&gt;

Of course, many details derived from Pat Medert’s volumes, especially Paint, Main, and Second streets.


Phone Book Highlights Downtown Towers (Part 2)

Corner Rescue

…Catty-corner to the Courthouse is the Carlisle, the downtown news story of 2014-2015.  If you haven’t already learned it, the Carlisle was built in 1885 in the glory of High Victorian architecture.  I like to call it one of our “Victorian commercial palaces,” like the Warner Hotel.

Ironically, the Carlisles did not build it…but their money did.  The two Carlisle brothers died without children, so their brother-in-law Arthur B. Howson managed the estate and replaced their dated mid-nineteenth century building with a larger up-to-date edifice named after them.

However, ten years later, an addition to the Carlisle on Main Street was named after the family who managed the money.  But the Howson Building remains dark in the phone book cover photo, awaiting the right economics to renovate its interior.

In the drama and excitement of keeping the building on life support and then revitalizing it, much has been posted about it.  Read more of my chatter on it in my earlier blogs and Facebook posts.

Commercial Steamliner

Sharing a similar familial paradox is the Foulke Block, across Paint Street from the Carlisle.  (I’m bending the rules by calling the penthouse atop it a tower for the purpose of this blog – the effect of that skyline bump is similar.)


Dr. Lewis Foulke invested in real estate, including across from the Carlisle Building.  (Curiously, he was born in CARLISLE, Pennsylvania.)  For almost a decade, he worked to acquire the mish-mash of commercial buildings on this site.  He died without getting the corner 1850 building which still stands there (it was originally a shoe factory).

His son-in-law Dr. Gustavus Franklin became administrator for the estate, and Franklin completed Foulke’s apparent plan to redevelop the half-block streetscape.  The result was another building built by one family and named after the previous family whose money paid for it.

The historical society’s Franklin House at 80 South Paint was the residence of Gustavus’ children.  I am unsure of a family connection to the two brothers Dr. Franklin, associated with the 1919 medical building at 79-80 East Second Street, and their 1920s Tudor residences at 981 and 991 Western Avenue.


• Hidden fineness accents the roughness of the Foulke – in contrast to the overall fineness of the Carlisle.

Arch Styling

While the Carlisle is dressed up to give a picturesque roofline to its simple rectangular form, the styling of the later Foulke Block enhances its squareness, somewhat like a massive steamship.  Barely a decade older than the Carlisle, it features the Victorian Romanesque style.

This style is best seen in the 1903 Walnut Street Methodist Church, with its massive, circular “Roman” arches and rough-cut stone as a heavy-handed backslap to the fancifulness of the HighVictorian.

There the style is more precisely “Richardsonian Romanaesque,” named after the prominent architect who popularized that stony monochromatic version.  The Foulke Block is a less dramatic version of the style, with its predominant brick and simple silhouette.

If you look closely, you will see that its design was apparently adjusted for lacking the additional frontage of the corner property.  The facade is slightly asymmetric!  There’s four bays on the left side, and only three on the right; and even the bays are a different width on either side.  Fooled ya.

The 1896-97 building was touted as Chillicothe’s first (modern) apartment building, though it appears to have housed more offices than residents through the decades.  A two-story cafeteria was designed on the upper floor of the north end.  Of course, commercial space filled the first floor.

The most famous concern there was Schachne & Sons, which as I recall had the only escalator in town.  They also had a pneumatic tube message system like old drive-through tellers, for sending orders throughout the department store.  It had eventually spread into the corner building and a building added on Main Street.  All that is gone now, and Milwaukeean Moritz Schachne rests in Grandview Cemetery with a Star of David proudly etched onto his tombstone.


•  A view down the “Beehive” in the 2008 first Ghost Walk.  Photo by Nelson Coleman – because I was too busy being a guide.  (Yes, those are “orbs.”  No, they’re just dust!)

What’s Below

Under the front is an underground sidewalk that was reopened in 1999, and remains a favorite location when open for our Ghost Walk.  I’d say it was built in mind as possible secondary commercial real estate in the building – but in a town as small and temperate as Chillicothe, it would never make a return for any business that located there.  Instead, it has served as storage space, and office space where visibility is unimportant (like for the census bureau).

I’m not sure how this “Beehive” acquired the name of Schachne’s original 1888 store located in previous buildings on this site.


•  A view of the Foulke from an unfinished dormer window of the Carlisle.

The Foulke Block was built very well, has been continuously occupied, and has been consistently maintained very well.  If you want to preserve a building, proper and continuous maintenance is the best way!

The Foulke ‘tower,’ the penthouse, has variously served as an art studio, residence, VIP suite for visitors to the Mead Company, and a haunted radio station (ask Dan Ramey).

*Much history adapted from Pat Medert’s research

More soon in the next installment!

(And can you predict my three other towers in the photo?) 

Phone Book Highlights Downtown Towers (part 1)

(98) Horizon - The delivery of the official Horizon Chillicothe 12801104_979813132089414_8080374738426292447_n

 I guess the Homeland Security cameras at the courthouse corners didn’t alert to a “drone” flying about the county government center at night.   
Then again, the term “drone” is misused for the kind of payload these RC micro-helicopters carry.

The recently released Horizon / Chillicothe Telephone directory cover features an aerial view of the “100%” intersection in Chillicothe.

That’s the term used to describe the importance of the intersection of Paint and Main when the effort to get the Carlisle reborn was a focus of the 2007 Hyett-Palma study. (Remember that?!)

But after 12 years total, the naysayers were proven wrong last year with the patient* building’s reopening.

I’m not sure if it’s the “Carlisle-Howson Building,” “New Carlisle,” or “Adena-Carlisle” – call it what you want, just don’t call it too late for saving.

Anyhow, Tim Anderson’s aerial photo shows what I’ll count as six of the city’s ‘towers.’ I’ll cover them here in a few installments.

County Center

First and foremost is the courthouse tower, glowing in its Christmas colors. This version of the Ross County Courthouse replaced the previous famous building used as the first Ohio Statehouse.


I had too much time on my hands when I created this 3-D rendering of the Chillicothe Statehouse.  Yeah, that’s me standing by the doorway!  And I do like candles in windows…but lacked the capacity to create window sashes.

That one was demolished soon after the Great Fire of April 1st, 1852, and its stone was sold and used in anxious rebuilding of the quarter of town hollowed out by the worst disaster to befall Chillicothe.

So, the building lives  – but mainly as invisible foundation walls…and as a few stones saved away and then added to other walls in commemoration of the original 1801 building.**

It was a “Foursquare Courthouse,”*** a form popular for public buildings in this region in that era.  I have observations, comparisons, and collections of them elsewhere.

There may have been an even earlier temporary log courthouse, but even historian Pat Medert**** told me she can’t confirm that. If there were, it probably became the log jail when the stone courthouse was built. (No comments on imprisoning politicians!)

c2004 Kevin B. Coleman Ignored Tags: $0118, $0119, $8773

The 1855-1859 courthouse is actually a brick building sheathed in Greenfield Dolomite quarried near Bainbridge.*****

Dolomite is a chemically hardened limestone – but not too hard. Part of that vein was hollowed out by aeons of trickling water to create what was known as the “Seven Caves” west of Bainbridge.

The use of that stone is unusual in Chillicothe, with the Waverly Sandstone (or Berea Sandstone) readily available under the hilltops and used for its more famous buildings, like the Statehouse and Adena Mansion – but I guess there was a desire for something a little more exotic.  So, larger monochrome blue-grey slabs were chosen over variously-variegated rusty warm blocks.


That finial atop the center gable?  It’s more than six feet of saw-cut solid stone.  I was privileged to get personal with it in an inspection for contractors planning to bid on the renovations in 2006.

The brick side walls of the center part were simply painted to match the stone, with molded bricks to match the stone moulding.

So was the tower – it is timber frame, with the original metal sheathing colored to match the rest of the building.

Atop the tower’s railing, the belfry was actually an afterthought.

(Usually referred to as a cupola, the BELfry is a place for the bell, instead of a cup-shaped ventilating CUPola.)

Though clock faces with yard-long hands were originally installed on the tower, there were no clock works!  The belfry was added in 1867 to house a 3,000-pound bell for the latecomer mechanism – which featured a 110-pound steel-cable-hung mercury-filled glass pendulum that lost less than 30 seconds in its first year.


A favorite perch of a peregrine falcon who chose the tower of the Ross County Courthouse in 2010 is at the upper right of the clock face.

Recently, the tower and trim around the clock face have been the roost of peregrine falcons, feasting on pigeons.  (Look – who’s there at 2:30?)

More soon in the next installment!  

(And can you predict my five other towers from the photo?)


*Hah!  Unintentional double entendré, since the building now houses those who have patients of their own… 

**Namely, the current courthouse, the Gazette building…and one fireplace of which I’ve been told.  

***Not to be confused with the c1890-1930 “Foursquare” house type.  Same concept: a two-story cubic building with hipped roof – but a different purpose and time.  Btw, “foursquare” doesn’t necessarily mean four rooms in a square – it just means solid-looking.  

**** Personal communication about summer 2014.  Much of this section draws from her entry in her Paint Street and Main Street volumes on the courthouse. 

***** Recent repairs to the wall of the south side hyphen involved locating and reopening the original quarry!