An Exhibit by Historic Columbus
May 2-December 22, 2022
RiverCenter for the Performing Arts
2nd Floor Mezzanine
10AM – 5:00 PM
These buildings stood before many of us were born. Their stories may be reinterpreted over time, different values may be emphasized, but continuing the conversation about them and their significance to our town is important. These places, even though gone, give voice in a very tangible way to our past and a voice for our future.
There are important stories within these images that are not lost because the structures themselves are no longer standing. Without them, we are not as beautiful, as real, and as strong of a community as we can be.
Columbus, like many cities in the United States, lost numerous older structures in the 1940s and 1950s for many reasons, including economic hardships, suburban flight, commercial encroachment, road construction, and Mother Nature. This exhibit is only a sample of what would create the impetus for the preservation movement in Columbus over fifty years ago.
In spite of what we might obscure or overlook at times, historic places tell us the truth about ourselves. And how we elevate, protect, interpret, and activate those stories and places can offer ways to explore the truths of who we are, collectively and individually, and ways to demonstrate our respect for each other’s strengths, achievements, and legacies.
Celebrate these stories with us and the history of our town, Columbus.
The Evolution of the RiverCenter Property
The block located directly to the west of the present-day Government Center has had a significant evolution. While it currently the home of the RiverCenter, the block has historically held a mix of uses to include residential, commercial, and municipal. The southern end of the block was mostly residential through the mid-part of the twentieth century, while the northern part was commercial with its corners serving the community as hotels for many years. The central part of the block contained stables and tenements early on and then became municipal in its use. In the late 1990s, the block became unified in its purpose as a cultural arts center and performing arts venue for the community.
This Greek Revival home was built about 1840. 902 Broadway was located on the northeast corner of Broadway and 9th Street. The property was located in a transitional section of Broadway with industrial uses across the street and general commercial growing to its north. Its architectural details included Doric columns and entablature. While the actual date of demolition is not known, it was most likely razed about the same time as its next-door neighbor.
The Pease House, 904 Broadway, was constructed about 1838 with an addition in the mid-1840s. The house was purchased in 1867 by John W. Pease and remained in the Pease family until the early 1930s. The raised cottage with double curved iron stairs and beautiful ironwork balconies was turned into apartments and then demolished in 1940. The property then became the site of a skating rink.
Fire Station No. 5 was established in 1856. The company’s most significant location was 937 First Avenue in the Municipal Building, which held the headquarters for both Fire and Police Departments. This incredible Richardsonian Romanesque building was constructed in 1906 and functioned as the headquarters until 1970 when a new Police Headquarters was built.
Located on the southwest corner of First Avenue and 10th Street was the Veranda Hotel. It was built by Francis J. Springer in the 1870s. In 1920, the property was purchased by Dr. Richard H. Cobb, a dentist and the wealthiest African American in Columbus at the time, to become the home of the International Benevolent Society of America, a fraternal organization founded in Columbus in 1906. At that time, the property was valued at $50,000. It was divided into different commercial spaces over the years and was demolished at some time during the 1970s or 1980s.