COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – From the former site of the Ohio State School for the Blind to a plantation-style Hilltop property once home to an HIV/AIDS hospice center, Columbus Landmarks has released its list of the nine “most endangered” sites in the city.
Columbus Landmarks, a group dedicated to preserving historical sites throughout the city, announced its ninth-annual selection of Columbus properties most at risk of being demolished or left abandoned, according to the board’s president Peter Krajnak.
Krajnak, who also serves as principal of the Columbus-based Rogers Krajnak Architects, said in order to make the cut, properties must be historic — built at least 50 years ago — and contribute, in some fashion, to the value and culture of the city.
“What was the role of the building within the community? Does the building have a story to tell about who lived there, who worked there, who studied there?” he said.
Sites within five neighborhoods that have historically faced disinvestment — Hilltop, Linden, Milo-Grogan, King-Lincoln Bronzeville and South Side — are prioritized on Columbus Landmarks’ annual list, Krajnak said. Of the 70 most endangered sites featured by Columbus Landmarks over the years, Krajnak said 27 have been saved, eight demolished and 35 are pending redevelopment.
The group’s ultimate goal, Krajnak said, is to raise awareness about Columbus’ rich history, inform people about their neighborhoods and advocate for the preservation and future use of the city’s “treasures.”
“Some people talk about sustainability related to construction, and to keep a building in place and adapted for future use is one of the most sustainable things we can do instead of a building ending up in a landfill,” Krajnak, the principal architect at Rogers Krajnak Architects, said. “The building could have a new life and live on – it helps our community become a better community.”
South Dormitory at Columbus Public Health
Address: 240 Parsons Ave.
Neighborhood: Olde Towne East
Building date: 1935
Owner: City of Columbus
Why it made the list: The City proposed a demolition of the building, which is part of the 1874 Old Ohio State School for the Blind, to build a drive-thru activity space and surface parking in 2021, Columbus Landmarks said. Columbus City Council, however, denied demolition funding.
Farm Crest Bakeries Building
Address: 1826 E. Livingston Ave.
Neighborhood: Driving Park
Building date: 1950
Owner: Lee-Elle Management
Why it made the list: Affordable housing developer Woda Cooper issued a 2022 proposal to demolish the building and replace it with two four-story buildings with 124 apartment units and retail shops on the first floor, according to Columbus Landmarks. The site was once home to the cookie division of the Detroit-based Farm Crest Bakeries.
Address: 5961 E. Livingston Ave.
Neighborhood: Far East
Building date: circa 1825
Owner: Velta D. Banks
Why it made the list: The nearly 200-year-old property — awarded by former President James Madison to a Canadian refugee during the American Revolution — is vacant and deteriorated.
E. 17th Ave. Garden Apartments
Address: 1294 E. 17th Ave. and 1265-71 E. 17th Ave.
Neighborhood: South Linden
Building date: 1925
Owner: New Life Management Company and Infinity Financial Services LLC
Why it made the list: The now vacant and deteriorated multi-unit residential property could be an opportunity to address the growing housing shortage in Columbus, according to Columbus Landmarks.
Eldon Smith House
Address: 2456 W. Broad St.
Building date: circa 1900
Owner: Degas Real Estate Solutions LLC
Why it made the list: The Southern plantation-style property was once home to a hospice and support center for HIV/AIDS patients. A recent proposal for the site to become a drug rehabilitation center is not moving forward, Columbus Landmarks said, and the building’s future remains unknown.
Original St. Stephen’s Community House
Address: 379 E. Barthman Ave.
Neighborhood: Hungarian Village
Building date: circa 1910
Owner: Park Properties Investments LLC
Why it made the list: The former site of St. Stephen’s Community House served as a neighborhood center for eastern European immigrants new to Columbus. Most of the property’s windows are boarded up, and the building appears to be underutilized, Columbus Landmarks said.
A photo of the site at 379 E. Barthman Ave. was not available on the Franklin County Auditor’s website.
Ohio Avenue Church
Address: 1013 S. Ohio Ave.
Neighborhood: Southern Orchards
Building date: 1911
Owner: Ohio Avenue Crescent LLC
Why it made the list: Previously home to both Evangelical and Methodist worshippers, the former church was sold in 2021 and is now vacant and deteriorating.
Milo-Grogan Commercial Building
Address: 876 Cleveland Ave.
Building date: circa 1910
Owner: Cleveland and 2nd LLC
Why it made the list: The two-story commercial building once home to a jewelry repair shop and a Kroger is vacant and deteriorating.
Address: 1336 E. Main St.
Neighborhood: Franklin Park
Building date: 1937
Owner: 1336 East Main Limited
Why it made the list: The now-deteriorating site of the former Franklin Park movie theater opened on Christmas Day in 1937.