Historical plaques added to another 17 Uptown buildings

Jan 9, 2024 | By Joe Meyer, Uptown News


Seventeen more stories of local history await your next stroll through Uptown Westerville.

The stories are featured on new decorative plaques, added this past summer and fall to historic commercial buildings across Uptown. The 17 new markers join the 20 installed in 2019 through Uptown Westerville Inc.’s Uptown Historical Plaques Program.

The 2022 expansion came courtesy of a program jointly sponsored by Uptown Westerville Inc. and the Westerville Historical Society, and funded by donations and a grant from the J. Terry Hayman Fund with the Columbus Foundation.

From church to real estate office

Realtor Nicole Harrison said she’s happy to have the new plaque at her Harrison Co. Real Estate Group, 43 E. Home St., to help tell the story of the historic building to curious residents and visitors.

She’s normally open to the public by appointment only, but knows the stately red brick building draws attention – and she’s happy to see people checking out the free-standing plaque outside the old church.

“We’re getting a lot of visitors looking at it,” she said, back in October 2023. “It gives a story to the building (and) gives people an opportunity to visit.”

Harrison’s building opened in 1910 as the first Lutheran church within the Westerville city limits. In 1965, when Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation relocated to a new facility at Otterbein Avenue and Schock Road, the building became home to a local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization. Between the IOOF and Harrison’s eight-month renovation project in 2018 to turn the former church into stylish real estate offices, the red brick building also hosted a gymnastics instruction school, and a tea house.

The plaques

Crafted at the International Bronze Plaque Co. facilities in Pittsburgh, the 11×16.5-inch bronze and aluminum plaques were installed at no cost to the building owners. A grant of $18,365 from the J. Terry Hayman Fund of the Columbus Foundation helped pay for the recent plaque installations, said Historical Society President Beth Weinhardt.

Hayman, a Westerville native, died in 2019, and bequeathed a portion of his estate to establish the fund with the Columbus Foundation to award grants to projects related to preserving Westerville history. Terry’s parents, John and Mary Ellen, were longtime, active Westerville Historical Society members, whose families owned farmland in Westerville dating to the early 1900s.

The first 20 historical plaques installed on Uptown businesses in 2019 courtesy of a $15,000 donation from Jane Horn, another longtime Westerville Historical Society member, and $5,000 from native and local businessman Bill Bishop.

Installation of both rounds was donated at much less than even just the material costs, by Ace Handyman Services of Northeast Columbus, owned by Westerville residents Paul and Laura Hammer.

The plaque design was initiated by City Councilman and UWI Design Chair Dennis Blair, who also ushered them through the city Uptown Review Board. Westerville Historical Society member Don Foster finalized the text and ushered the 2022 round of plaques through installation.

(Sixteen of the 17 are installed; One planned for the old Corbin’s Saloon building at 39 W. Main St. is not yet installed at the request of the owner, Tony Cabilovski. Cabilovski, owner of the Westerville Grill and Uptown Deli and Brew, has not yet decided how he wants to redevelop the old Corbin’s building, and wants the eventual plaque placement to fit with the business plans, Foster said.)

All sites noted in National Register of Historic Places

All 37 commercial buildings approved for the Uptown historical plaques are among the 57 significant “contributing buildings” cited in UWI’s application to place the whole Uptown district on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, approved the Uptown Westerville Historic District addition to the National Register on June 17, 2019.

“The Uptown Westerville Historic District is an intact collection of buildings and streetscapes that illustrate the development of a late 19th and early 20th century business district and civic center in central Ohio as it evolved to support a self-contained community of residents, college students, and visitors over a period of 117 years,” from 1852 to 1969, said the National Register application.

Locations of the new plaques

Read the stories of all the historic buildings on their new plaques for yourself, at their Uptown locations:

  • 14-16 S. State St., Westerville Florist
  • 42-44 N. State St., A Twist on Olives-McCurdy HER
  • 74 N. State St., Culver Art & Frame/The Gather Inn
  • 41 W. College Ave., First Presbyterian Church of Westerville
  • 51 N. State St., Church of the Messiah United Methodist
  • 24 N Grove St., Church of the Master United Methodist
  • 240 S. State St., Westerville Armory/CO-hatch
  • 130 S. State St., Masonic Temple Blendon Lodge 339
  • 100 S. State St., Westerville Medical Center
  • 30 E. College Ave., Episcopal Church/Pray Think Love House
  • 11 W. College Ave., Keyes & Sammons Furniture/Generations Dance Academy
  • 43 E. Home St., Grace Lutheran Church/Harrison Co. Real Estate Group
  • 131 W. Park St., Howard House at Otterbein – “Greendale”
  • 39 S. Vine St., Salem Evangelical Church/Frank Museum of Art
  • 1 S. Grove St., Towers Hall at Otterbein University
  • 39 W. Main St., Corbin’s Saloon (plaque not yet erected)
  • 110 S. State St., Anti-Saloon League National Headquarters/Westerville History Museum

Read the stories of the initial 20 commercial sites to receive Uptown Historical Plaques here.

A spring dedication ceremony for the additional plaques is in the works. Stay tuned for more information.

Caption (ABOVE): Realtor Nicole Harrison stands next to the historical plaque placed Uptown this fall outside her Harrison Co. Real Estate Group building at 43 E. Home St.

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