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…

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Kevin B. Coleman

Pre/historian, architectural historian, re-enactor, guide, reporter, speaker, writer, gardener, craftsperson, husbandman, et al., who can work in stone (flint knapping, flintlock, silicon chip) among other things and who is determined to use my knowledge, wisdom, and personal survival to help the greater good. At least, my cats and dog here in semi-rural Ohio tell me that.

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