Tapestry of a Town – Weaving your way through Westerville
We hope you enjoy this look at historic Westerville and that you’ll join us for the 2021 Tapestry tour next July.
Starting at Walnut Street, heading north on the east side of State Street:
168 S. State St. ERA Real Solutions Realty – Built in 1901, this home is a clear example of the Arts & Crafts style of architecture popular at the turn of the last century. It has served as a home, business, and real estate office and has anchored this major Westerville intersection for years. The integrity of the building has been carefully maintained by the current owner. From the 2018 tour.
130 S. State St. Masonic Temple – Dedicated in 1932, the Masonic Temple is a striking example of the neo-classical revival style. The local Blendon Lodge, chartered in 1862, met above Uptown businesses until this large and stately building became their headquarters. From the 2014 tour.
110 S. State St. Anti-Saloon League Museum at the Westerville Library – In 1909, the Anti-Saloon League was gifted this 1850s house and the land it sits on to entice them to locate their printing headquarters in Westerville. The museum shares the story of the League’s influence on the country through the tons of anti-alcohol literature produced here and mailed around the world, earning Westerville the title “Dry Capital of the World.” From the 2013 tour and several others
50 S. State St. Hanby Elementary School – Built in 1923, the Westerville High Schools was the pride of the citizens of the community. It alleviated serious over-crowding problems at the Vine Street School (Emerson today) and has been used as a junior high and finally as an elementary school named for favorite son of Westerville Benjamin Hanby, composer of “Up on the Housetop.” From the 2014 tour.
28 S. State St. Old Post Office – During the Depression, WPA labor built this post office building at a cost of $33,500. For almost fifty years it served the community in that capacity until a larger post office was built further south on State Street. After that it housed various city departments, most recently, the detective bureau of the Westerville Police. From the 2014 tour.
20 S. State St. Java Central – Originally built in 1945 to house Wilkin and Smith Hardware, this structure was converted into use as a bowling alley in 1950 (consider the length of the building.) Because of its proximity to the 1930s era post office building to the south, it was used as the post office annex for a while. Now, it is a popular gathering spot, meeting place, and exhibition site for local artists. From the 2013 tour.
8 N. State St. Barrel & Boar – As indicated by its iconic marquee sign, this building was originally the State Theatre, which opened in 1927 when movie tickets cost 15 cents. It became the Amish Originals furniture store in 1992, was converted into a restaurant in 2014, and is now a popular gastropub. From the 2019 tour.
14 N. State St. Pearlescent Photography (upstairs) – This building was the former site of Williams Grill, a Westerville legend for over 80 years. Located on the second floor, the current studio overlooks State Street from what was the “Crystal Room,” a community banquet hall used for special occasions, including the 1958 Westerville Centennial. From the 2019 tour.
14 N. State St. Asterisk Supper Club (street level) – Built in 1927 by the Williams family in coordination with the adjacent Curfman-owned movie theater, Williams Grill was the place to go, whether you were a student or a businessman. The cold fudge sundae was a special treat and a prized family secret recipe. From the 2018 tour.
18 N. State St. Pure Roots Boutique – Built in 1883, this building housed the Bank of Westerville, the only bank in Westerville for many years. In 1917 it became the University Bookstore, owned and operated by three generations of the Morrison/Jones family. The present boutique offers unique gift items. From the 2017 tour.
20 N. State St. A Gal Named Cinda Lou – This structure built in 1895, was home to Day’s Bakery in 1900 and later to Day’s Dry Goods. The Day brothers, twins born in 1868 on February 29th Leap Day, were known for their big caramel iced cookies. Over the past 60+ years this location has housed an electric store, a jeweler’s, Forget Me Not Embroidery and Sour Records. Since 2008, A Gal Named Cinda Lou has been selling furniture and other items from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. From the 2015 tour.
24 – 26 N. State St. Old Bag of Nails – This Italianate brick building has a projecting cornice with a central gable giving the name of the building and the date it was built, 1883. The Weyant Building has been home to many businesses, including Bates 5 & 10 and Calico Cupboard in more recent years. The third floor was originally used as an opera house. In 1886, a tragic fire broke out on this floor which resulted in the deaths of three people. From the 2013 tour.
38 N. State St. Amish Originals Furniture Company – This was the site of hardware stores from 1892 until 1945. In 1946 “Mac” McVay remodeled the building and relocated his furniture store here where he remained until 1971. Westerville Interiors then occupied the building until 1998. At present, the Amish-made furnishings offered here continue the tradition of fine furniture available in Uptown Westerville. From the 2017 tour.
30 N. State St. Ohio Art Market – Citizens in Westerville were delighted when Isaly’s ice cream company decided to build one of their shops on this corner. From 1941 until 1967, that business was operating in this structure, later Toots’ tobacco shop and used book store, and now a boutique offering handmade items from Ohio artisans and crafters. From the 2015 tour.
114 N. State St. Uptown Eye Care – This lovely brick home was built in 1900 as the home of the William Young family. Son of the family Curtis Young fought in France during World War I and died of influenza. He is buried in LeMans, France. When the local American Legion post was formed, it was named the Young-Budd post in honor of this young fallen soldier and George Budd, who died of meningitis. It has long been repurposed as an optometrist office. From the 2016 tour.
Starting from County Line Road, heading south on the west side of State Street:
313 N. State St. St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church – Long the spiritual anchor of Westerville’s north end and site of larger community funerals and events, this Romanesque-designed church is the newest structure of a 100+ year old parish. Both inside and out, this is a stunning building, with 164 stained glass windows and impressive pipe organ in the sanctuary. From the 2019 tour.
259 N. State St. Alkire House – Now an art gallery, this historic residence was built in 1849 by Garrit Sharp, one of the earliest settlers in Westerville and a prominent Methodist who was very active in the Underground Railroad. The house, used both as a residence and as a slave-smuggling safehouse, retains much of its original structure, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. From the 2019 tour.
51 N. State St. Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church – The first Methodist church on this site was built in 1838 on land donated by Matthew and Abiah Westervelt. That building was replaced in 1887 and enlarged in 1923. The current sanctuary was completed in 1959 and the former building torn down. The congregation celebrated the bicentennial of the church’s actual establishment in 2017. From the 2017 tour.
31 N. State St. Morgan’s Treasure – One of the oldest retail buildings in Uptown Westerville, this structure was built in 1870. The first floor housed a series of dry goods stores until 1928. In the 1930s, this was the first location in the community to house a Kroger grocery store. Currently, it is an outlet for fine jewelry. From the 2014 tour.
15 N. State St. Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn (formerly Outside Envy) – this Italianate brick retail establishment was built in 1910. It has been home to many local businesses including furniture stores, shoe shops, barber shops, and even a pool hall. It’s rumored the upstairs may have been a speakeasy during Prohibition. From the 2014 tour.
21 S. State St. City Hall – The northern portion of this building is an1880s home renovated in the 1930s, providing employment for out-of-work laborers during the Depression. The old building housed the city offices on the first floor, the public library on the second floor and the volunteer fire department in the rear. In 1988, the city completed the new portion of the building, including the city council chambers. From the 2014 tour.
33 S. State St. George Stoner House – Stoner established this building in 1852 as a place people came to take advantage of the medicinal spring in the rear of the property. It has figured in almost every element of Westerville’s history: stagecoach inn, stop on the Underground Railroad, auxiliary building for the Anti-Saloon League, and home to many businesses. Current owners have honored and continued the heritage of this iconic structure. From the 2019 tour.
Cross streets and sites of interest:
66 W. Lincoln St. (dead ends in a surprise) – Old Methodist Cemetery – In 1849 Garrit Sharp gave a half acre to the Methodist Church for a cemetery. No longer used for burials, it houses the graves of prominent citizens, early pioneers, and veterans, some from the Civil War. This small area adjoins the properties of Otterbein University. From the 2014 tour.
64 E. Main St. Uptown on Main Built and still used as a home, this structure has also been the site of businesses, as it is today. The Jaycox family lived in it for a time. William Jaycox owned a second-hand furniture store on State St. Today, this nicely restored house/business is an interesting place to find fine varieties of tea and spices. Sometimes high tea has been served in the adjoining garden. From the 2017 tour.
7 W. Main St. Holmes Hotel (David Myers Art Studio & Gallery) – In April 1889, Thomas Holmes opened his 30-room hotel at the corner of State and Main with great fanfare, hosting a Board of Trade banquet with visitors from as far away as Dayton. The local paper declared “The Holmes House is a blaze of glory from attic to basement.” This Romanesque Revival structure with its highly decorative façade also housed two retail businesses. The site where the 1889 building stands was lot #1 on the plat map of 1839 and was where the log cabin of James Westervelt stood. From the 2013 tour.
39 W. Main St. Corbin’s Saloon – Local businessman Henry Corbin opened a saloon at the corner of Knox and Main Streets in 1875 and the townspeople protested vehemently. Leaders of the community used strong language in denouncing Corbin and a series of acts of vandalism followed, eventually culminating in dynamite explosions. Corbin closed this establishment and tried again in 1879 with similar reactions and results. This structure, however, still survives as witness to Westerville’s “Whiskey Wars.” From the 2013 tour.
160 W. Main St. Hanby House – The home of Bishop William Hanby, active in the Underground Railroad, and son Benjamin, a famous songwriter, was originally located at the corner of Main and Grove where the Church of the Master stands today. Fugitive slaves were hidden in the barn behind the home and brought in after dark to break bread with the family. Benjamin Hanby’s most famous ballad “Darling Nelly Gray” is based on a tragic true story of star-crossed lovers separated by slavery and death. He also wrote the popular holiday song “Up on the Housetop.” The house is now a museum. From the 2013 and several later tours.
Otterbein University has been a great friend to the Westerville Habitat Partnership and has allowed us to visit many of their buildings. Here are some of the campus sites that were opened to us:
60 Collegeview Ave. The Point – Otterbein has partnered with leading organizations from the private and public sectors in central Ohio to create this science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) Innovation Center that combines academics with the business and manufacturing needs of our community. It is housed in the original, but much remodeled Toledo Scale building and has a great deal of flexible space inside for various needs and configurations, including a maker space with 3-D printers. From the 2017 tour.
111 N. West St. Clements House – this Georgian Colonial structure was designed and built in 1940 for Frank and Vida Clements upon Frank’s retirement as director of General Motors Research Laboratory. Both Clements were Otterbein alumni and philanthropists with their generosity including bequeathing this home to Otterbein for use as the president’s residence. It served in this capacity for many decades. From the 2015 tour.
130 Center St. Otterbein Stadium – Memorial Stadium is dedicated to 14 citizens who gave their lives serving the country during WWII. The stadium has state-of-the-art locker rooms, a training room, the “O” Club Room for small group meetings and receptions, an equipment room, and a 400 meter outdoor track. The stadium was rebuilt in 2005 and has 32,000 square feet and a great view of Westerville from the pressbox. From the 2018 tour.
24 N. Grove St. Church of the Master United Methodist –Otterbein University was founded in 1847 as a United Brethren denomination college. Four years later, the denomination chartered a congregation in Westerville. The church held services at a series of locations on the college campus, including 45 years in Towers Hall. In 1916, the congregation built this structure. For many years its sanctuary was the largest auditorium in town. As a result of a 1968 merger, it became a Methodist congregation known as Church of the Master. Although serving the entire community, it is still regarded by many as “the campus church.” From the 2016 tour.
102 W. College Ave. Clippinger Hall – right around the corner from the church, this building opened its doors in 1908 as the Otterbein Library funded with a gift from Andrew Carnegie. Converted into the college administration building in 1955, it was named Clippinger Hall in honor of Walter G. Clippinger, president of Otterbein from 1909 – 1939. It is now the Admissions Office for the university. From the 2014 tour.
1 S. Grove St. Towers Hall –Fire claimed the Main Building at Otterbein in 1870. Out of the ashes arose the centerpiece of the campus, towers Hall, also on the National Register of Historic Places. After the fire, Dayton sought to persuade the institution to move its operations to their town, but the citizens of Westerville raised funds to build Towers Hall and keep Otterbein University in the community. The third floor of the building was home to the literary societies, founded beginning in the early 1850s and continuing until the 1930s. These elaborate rooms hosted debates, recitations, and even scenes from dramatic plays. The Philomathean Room remains and has been restored to offer a glimpse of this bygone era. It is still used frequently for small groups attending a visiting lecturer’s presentation. From the 2013 tour.
170 W. Park St. Battelle Fine Arts Center/Riley Auditorium – Completed in 1928 shortly before the Great Depression affected construction projects, this alumni Gymnasium provided a site for male athletic activity until the Rike Center was opened in 1975. (The vanished Association Building offered the similar space for female athletes.) Battelle Memorial Institute provided financial support to transform this building into a space dedicated to the arts. From the 2015 tour.
Corner Walnut and Grove Streets Otterbein Cemetery Mausoleum –the Otterbein Mausoleum, constructed in 1924, is on the National Register of Historic Places. With its beautiful stained glass windows, Indiana limestone exterior and marble interior, it is an architectural gem. Its 290 crypts are the burial place for veterans of many wars and for many prominent business and civic leaders. The cemetery itself is worth a stroll. There are monuments to leaders of the Anti-Saloon League, former Otterbein presidents, and other well-known Westerville figures here. From the 2013 and 2019 tours.
While you are here, you might want to continue south on Grove St. to Hiawatha to see Westerville’s third oldest school building.
120 Hiawatha Ave. – Longfellow Elementary School – This structure was the first school built in Westerville for the sole purpose of housing only elementary age students. When the Vine Street School (Emerson) was built, it housed all grades. On February 2, 1931, students who were being moved from Emerson to Longfellow, packed up their supplies and books and sadly left some of their classmates behind as they walked to this new school. Today it houses an all-day kindergarten program. And maybe a few ghosts! From the 2016 tour.
A few sites on College Ave., from west to east:
41 W. College Ave. First Presbyterian Church – The first church on this site opened its doors in 1865. First Presbyterian outgrew the original brick building, and the current church replaced it in 1913. The bell you may hear ringing on Sunday mornings and during 4th Fridays was taken from that original building. It was cast by Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, which also made bells for all naval vessels used by both sides in the Civil War. The organ was constructed in 1911. This church recently underwent a significant renovation and expansion of its facilities. From the 2015 tour.
30 E. College Ave. St. Matthew’s Episcopal House – William Moses bought this home in 1888 for $3000 and brought his bride here the following year. This home was the first in Westerville to be wired for electricity. William’s daughter Helen taught in the Westerville schools and lived in the home until her death in 1971. Some in the community may remember this building as a popular florist shop. From the 2018 tour.
43 E. College Ave. Gemma Shop – Constructed as part of the 1870-80 boom after the railroad came to town, this building is a great example of the brick Italianate architecture that was popular during the era. One important owner of the property was Frank Culver, founder of Culer Art and Frame Co. who used the building at the rear of his lot to house his business. From the 2018 tour.
Some Vine St. sites, not to be missed:
39 S. Vine St. Frank Museum – Built in 1877 at a cost of $2,346, this structure served as the home of the Salem Evangelical Church until 1950 when it became the Grange Hall. In 1956, Lillian and Paul Frank, faculty members at Otterbein, purchased the building and renovated it to be their residence. An art instructor, Lillian lived in the home until her death in 1999 when it was bequeathed to Otterbein to be a place of learning. Now it is one of Otterbein’s three art museums. From the 2016 tour.
44 N. Vine St. Emerson Elementary School – The Union School, which was located on Vine, was town down in 1895 to pave the way for this Frank Packard-designed building. On March 19, 1896, this “Temple of Learning,” as the Public Opinion (local newspaper) described it, was dedicated with Ohio’s Governor Bushnell addressing the throngs in attendance. Still in operation as a school these many years later, this building, with its cloakrooms, high ceilings, transoms, and towers, has seen many generations of Westerville students begin their education within its walls. From the 2013 and 2018 tours.
Also notable from our first tour in 2013:
115 E. Park St. Westerville Legacy Train Depot (Hanby Park) – The bike trail follows the route that the railroad took through Westerville. When the railroad came to town in 1873, new businesses located along the tracks and passengers made the train depot an important spot in the community. Dedicated in the summer of 2012, this reproduction train depot has panels describing the transportation history of Westerville and is used as a stop for bike riders. From the 2013 tour.