Here are Columbus Landmarks’ most-endangered historic properties for 2021

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Columbus Landmarks is out with its annual list of historic properties across the city at risk from demolition, deterioration, vacancy, or impending development.

The historic preservation organization’s eighth annual Most Endangered Sites list features nine sites identified through public nominations and selected by Columbus Landmarks’ advocacy committee.

The lineup “provides the organization with a priority work list for its efforts and helps maintain the spotlight on threatened structures,” Columbus Landmarks said in its announcement.

Becky West, executive director of Columbus Landmarks, said in an email that the organization is “optimistic that our recently established Endangered Properties Fund will help make a difference for several of the sites we have featured in the past.”

Here are the nine sites, along with commentary from Columbus Landmarks:

St. Cyprian, 1912

Address: 1405, 1407, 1413 Hawthorne Ave. (map)

Owner: Ohio State University

Why endangered: Underutilized, vacant, deteriorated

Narrative: “This harmonious collection of brick buildings are important touchstones for the Black and Catholic communities in Columbus. St. Cyprian Parish, the first Catholic Church established to serve the Black community, featured a church, school and rectory on its grounds. Bishop James J. Hartley built St. Cyprian across from the four-story brick St. Anthony Hospital that today is the site of OSU East Hospital. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament staffed the school. Very few Blacks were Catholic in 1912, but by the 1940s membership had grown to 400. In 1957, St. Cyprian merged with St. Dominic’s parish, also a historically African American parish that is active today and “seeks to grow beyond the boundaries of race.” The St. Cyprian buildings pose an important opportunity to document and address issues of segregation, prejudice, racism, justice, and faith.”

Tee Jaye’s neon sign/Original Jerry’s Drive-In sign, 1961

Address: North High Street and Morse Road

Owner: Shriners Hospitals, Bedel Family Trust 

Why endangered: Business change; sign does not meet current zoning code

Narrative: “Designed in 1961 by Fred Ervin Neon Sales of Columbus for Jerry’s Drive-In, this eye-catching and distinctive sign has been modified twice to boldly and creatively advertise the featured business below. Love it or hate it, this Clintonville landmark retains its mid-century style and integrity, and adds visual interest to this busy corner. Tee Jaye’s recently closed at this location. The sign awaits its fate with pending new development, and does not meet current zoning/graphics code. Many North Enders are advocating for its preservation, either modified to serve the new business or as-is in another Clintonville location. The sign is nostalgic for many, and public art for all, adding character and vibrancy to the streetscape.” 

Central Ohio Federal Savings & Loan, 1955

Address: 66 S. Third Ave.

Owner: Capitol Square Ltd.

Why endangered: Vacant; pending redevelopment

Narrative: “Central Ohio Federal Savings & Loan Association moved into this building designed in a Greek Revival style with six Corinthian columns to evoke “a symbol of strength and rugged character,” according to their opening day ad in 1955. The monument-style building featured a spacious lobby with seven teller windows; a cherry-paneled boardroom; colorful murals in the loan-closing room; and a large walk-in safe. Following decades of mergers and acquisitions, the building was sold to Capitol Square Ltd. in 2006 and awaits redevelopment. A proposed mixed-use plan for this important Capitol Square corner was announced pre-Covid, but has yet to proceed.”

Pythian Temple, 1926

Address: 867 Mt. Vernon Ave.

Owner: York Masons Building Association

Why endangered: For sale, potential Opportunity Zone redevelopment

Narrative: “The 1926 Pythian Temple is the only building in Columbus known to have been designed by Samuel Plato, a talented and prolific African American architect with Evans and Plato of Louisville, Kentucky. Built in the Renaissance style, the Pythian served as the York Masonic Lodge and as a celebrated theater featuring entertainment legends including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as local performers who were part of the Black and Tan Review. The Pythian was the hub of a thriving African American community until the late 1960s. In 1987, the Pythian was renovated and connected to Garfield Elementary School to create the King Arts Complex. The King Arts Complex and Moody Nolan Architects won Columbus Landmarks’ James B. Recchie Design Award for the renovation. The York Masons retain ownership of the Pythian. The King Arts Complex made a financial decision to exit their lease of the Pythian in 2019, but retain offices in the Garfield Building and a vibrant presence in the community.”

Ohio State University Kappa Sigma/former Robert Neil Mansion, 1938

Address: 1842 Indianola Ave. (map)

Owner: The Kappa Sigma House Co.

Why endangered: Local chapter closed; subleased

Narrative: “The stately OSU Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter house sits on the site of the Robert Neil (and later Henry Neil) “Indianola” mansion (c1852). Indianola was a Swiss style home and a documented Underground Railroad site with a tunnel leading to the Olentangy River. Kappa Sigma purchased the home in 1919. An overhaul renovation that encompasses the Neil home was designed in 1938 by Ray Sims in a “Virginia Colonial Style” to reflect the fraternity’s heritage. Originally designed with 31 rooms to accommodate 30 men, today there is a large addition at the rear to house many more. In 2020, Kappa Sigma National Fraternity revoked the OSU chapter’s charter. The house is currently sub-leased.” 

Original West High School/former Starling Middle School, 1908 & 1950

Address: 120 S. Central Ave. (map)

Owner: Woda Cooper Companies Inc.

Why endangered: Pending redevelopment

Narrative: “This beautiful Neo-Classical Revival style building was designed by David Riebel, the first architect of Columbus schools. It didn’t last long as one of Columbus’ original cardinal direction high schools (East, West, North, South, and Central.) Constructed in 1908 and opened in 1909, it was replaced 20 years later by West High at 179 S. Powell Ave. This building then became Starling Middle School. In 1950, a gymnasium designed by Howard Dwight Smith, architect of Ohio Stadium, was added in a similar tan common bond brick, but in a contrasting, asymmetrical cubist form. After a period of vacancy, Columbus City Schools sold the school in 2020 to Woda Cooper Development, an affordable housing developer.”  

Former East End Savings Bank, 1911

Address: 1017 Mt. Vernon Ave. (map)

Owner: Phillips Pharmacy LLC

Why endangered: Underutilized; deteriorated

Narrative: “This c1890 bank building was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with keystone arches across the upper stone façade. While the storefront has been altered, the original stone columns with Ionic capitals are intact. This building was inventoried as part of Columbus Landmarks’ Lost Treasures Found Architectural Survey of African American resources of the Near East Side in 1994. In 1911, the bank operated as Lincoln Savings Bank Co. and later as Sully’s Loan/Pawn Shop. Phillip’s Pharmacy, independently owned and operated, owns the building and has had a retail presence here since 2000. The building remains appropriately scaled for a variety of potential future mixed uses in the King-Lincoln/Bronzeville neighborhood. 

878 Mt. Vernon Ave.

Address: 878 Mt. Vernon Ave., c1910 (map)

Owner: Farodonia LLC 

Why endangered: Underutilized; deteriorated

Narrative: “The potential of this historic and key corner commercial building is somewhat obscured by boarded window openings. However, its architectural features that include stone lintels and a corbeled cornice are intact. Built in c1910, the building features row house apartments attached to the rear of this property, located on the corner of Mt. Vernon and N. Monroe in the King-Lincoln/Bronzeville neighborhood. This building was inventoried as part of Columbus Landmarks’ Lost Treasures Found Architectural Survey of African American resources of the Near East Side in 1994. The main commercial building has been used in the past as a convenient market, an amenity concept that is being repeated in new apartment development today.

Washington Avenue United Methodist Church, 1923

Address: 359 E. Markison Ave. (map)

Owner: Devin Jacobs

Why endangered: Pending redevelopment

Narrative: “The former Washington Avenue United Methodist Church is located in Merion Village on the city’s south side. Dedicated in 1923, this charming brick church building is neighborly and approachable, despite its Gothic Revival architectural style. The building features a square tower main entrance with crenellations, pointed arches and buttresses. Due to dwindling attendance, the church left this location in 2015 and the building was sold to a private developer. Vacant churches present an opportunity to not only preserve our best architecture, but to stretch our creativity and find productive and sustainable new uses.”

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