Historic Buildings in Imminent Danger of Demolition

Columbus, like many cities, has a decidedly mixed history with historic preservation. It has lost so much, and it continues to lose more with every passing year. The Columbus Landmarks Foundation puts out of list every year of Columbus’ most endangered. Her is 2019’s list. Not all of the threatened old buildings in Columbus get attention. Here are a few more that are likely to meet the wrecking ball relatively soon.

Highland and 11th Block
1619 Highland Street
Built: 1905
Ohio State recently purchased this building after reportedly trying to buy it for decades. The university now owns the entire block that this building sits on, and the plans are for eventual redevelopment within a few years. What might replace it is not yet known.

1619 Highland in 2019.

141 W. 11th Avenue
Built: 1890s
If OSU decides to redevelop the entire block, and that seems to be the plan, another historic building near 1619 Highland could also be lost. The German House is the last remaining original home this far west on 11th Avenue in what was once a historic neighborhood. OSU has systematically demolished almost all of the other homes along 11th Avenue, beginning in the 1950s. While there are no announced plans for its demolition, news of the block’s redevelopment seem to predict this old home’s doom.

The German House in 2015.

King and High Block
1343-1347 N. High Street
Built: Around 1920

1343-1347 North High in 2017.

1355-1359 N. High Street
Built: Around 1890

1355-1359 N. High Street in 2015.

Both of these High Street properties, directly across the street from the Weinland Park Kroger, are under threat from a proposed redevelopment plan. Originally, the developer had proposed an 11-story, mixed-use building for this block with the intention of incorporating both of the old buildings into the plan. However, it seems that they became frustrated with the approvals process, and so, in seemingly a total spite move, greatly reduced the size of the project as well as any intention of saving the old buildings. The out-of-state developer’s new design doesn’t require any variances, and so it seems like the final product is out of the hands of the local neighborhood commission and city, unfortunately. What could’ve been a great project is now essentially a middle finger from the developer and arguably one of the worst-designed proposals in recent years.

Before and After: Downtown

**Some photos have been updated since the original post.

Downtown, more than any other neighborhood, has seen major changes over the years. Here are just a few.

Before: The Central German School at 400 S. 4th Street in 1916

After: 2017

The school was originally opened in December, 1863. In 1920, the school began an expansion and opened as an institution for physically challenged children in March, 1922. The building met its demise in December, 1967 to clear the right of way for I-70/I-71. The highway split the northern sections of German Village off from the rest of the neighborhood. Eventually, almost every historic building left to the north of the highway was demolished. One of the few still remaining is the nearby Trinity Lutheran Church at the corner of S. 3rd and E. Fulton Street, which was dedicated on December 20, 1857.

Before: Southern Theater in 1905

After: 2018

The Southern Theater came about out of the ashes of it’s predecessors. Fires had destroyed 5 separate Columbus theaters between 1889 and 1893, and with the sudden absence of major city theaters, the concept of the Southern Theater was born. The theater opened on September 21, 1896 and has changed very little over the years. Today, it is one of the oldest surviving theaters in Ohio. Very few other buildings can be seen in the old photo, but the 1895 building next door on High and Noble also survives.

Before: The Columbus Auditorium at 570 N. Front Street in 1901

After: 2018

Opened on March 17, 1885, the Park Roller Skating Rink was a large, beautiful building across from where Nationwide Arena sits today. Originally for amusement, the rink only lasted a bit over a decade before being bought and remodeled to become the Columbus Auditorium in 1897. It’s large expanse of flat roof doomed the building however. After more than 15″ of snow fell on the city from February 16-18, 1910, the roof simply could not handle the load, and collapsed on the 18th. The building was deemed a total loss and was torn down not long after.

Before: The Ohio State Arsenal building at 139 W. Main Street in 1898

After: 2017

The Ohio State Arsenal building at 139 W. Main Street, seems to have a bit of disagreement as to when it was actually built (1861 vs. 1863), but regardless, it was a Civil War era arsenal that was used for this purpose for well over 100 years. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and became a cultural arts center in 1978, which it remains so to this day.

Before and After: Franklinton

*Some photos have been updated since the time of the original post.

Before: South Central Avenue, looking north, during the flood of January 21-24, 1959.

After: 2015

The 1959 flood was the 2nd worst in the history of Franklinton after the 1913 disaster. The Frank Road crest on the Scioto River came on January 22, 1959 and was 27.22 ft, 3.22 ft above flood stage and a few feet below the 1913 crest. This crest would not cause serious flooding in Franklinton today, as the Franklinton Floodwall, completed in 2004, will protect the area to crests of up to 30.9 ft. Few people know that, prior to the wall’s completion, federal guidelines prohibited almost all types of construction in Franklinton, a contributing factor in the gradual decline it faced after the 1950s.

Before: Bellows Avenue Elementary on Bellows Avenue in 1922.

After: 2017

Bellows Elementary was opened in 1905 and barely escaped destruction during the I-70/315 highway construction. The building remained a school through the 1970s before closing and being sold by the city in 1984. It has remained vacant since then. Recent proposals to turn it into apartments, particularly as Franklinton has begun a massive revitalization, and the building has received a new roof, so further deterioration has been stopped for now. The building, however, is threatened by possible demolition once the 70/71 split is reconstructed in sometime in the mid-2020s.

Before: The Columbus Heating and Ventilation Company building at 433 W. Town Street in 1916.

After: 2016

The Columbus Heating and Ventilating Company began in 1903 and still exists in the city, although obviously not at its original location. It later served as factories and parts of the complex were even used to enrich uranium for the Manhattan Project. The old building eventually went into severe disrepair and most of the roof had collapsed by the time it was demolished in 2011 as one of the first steps in the area’s rebirth. Multiple redevelopment plans have come and gone for the site, but so far, nothing has come of them.

Before: Mt. Carmel Hospital, looking southwest on Davis, in 1909.

After: 2018

Mt. Carmel was originally known as Hawkes Hospital. The first section was completed in 1886, with later expansions in 1891 and 1908. Eventually, the old structures were deemed outdated for modern hospital purposes, and the entire complex was demolished in the late 1940s. Today, the site is very different, with the current buildings built on top of the old Davis and State Street intersection. The hospital moved most services to a new location in Grove City in recent years, with plans to demolish part of the complex to create a new mixed-use development.