S. 3rd Street in German Village
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||December 30, 1974|
German Village (Boundary Increase)
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||November 28, 1980|
German Village is a historic neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, just south of downtown. It was settled in the early-to-mid-19th century by a large number of German immigrants, who at one time comprised as much as a third of the city's entire population. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974, becoming the largest privately funded preservation district on the list, and in 2007, was made a Preserve America Community by the White House. On November 28, 1980, its boundaries were increased and today it is one of the premier historic restorations in the world.
- 1 History
- 2 Present
- 3 Gallery
- 4 Documentaries
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
In 1796, Congress appropriated the Refugee Lands for individuals who had supported the Colonial cause in the American Revolution. By 1802, an American Revolution veteran named John McGowan claimed 328 acres (1.33 km2), most of what would become the German Village. As German immigrants arrived, McGowan sold tracts of land to them. By 1814, a settlement had grown up, originally called "Die Alte Sud Ende" (the Old South End), and German immigrants contributed to building the first statehouse.
By 1830, massive German immigration to the city had occurred. The most influential German newspaper in 1843 was Der Westbote. Many would serve in the American Civil War, thus gaining the universal respect of the local citizens. By 1865, one-third of Columbus's population was German and the community was flourishing. They built up the local neighborhood, including many businesses, such as Hessenauer Jewelers and Lazarus Department Stores, schools, and churches, such as the Ohio-historic St. Mary's Catholic Church, built in 1865 and adorned with a 197-foot (60 m) steeple in 1893. German-American George Karb became mayor of the city, twice, at the end of the 19th century and again in the early 20th century.
The local schools the German immigrants constructed and managed were so superior that English-speaking residents of Columbus chose to attend them, such as one that once stood at Fulton Street east of S. Fourth Street. In 1831, the German Evangelical Lutheran Seminary secured 14 acres (57,000 m2) in the south end, founded by William Schmidt, a graduate of the University of Halle in Germany. The school would go on to become what is known today as Capital University, still under the leadership of the Lutheran Church and now located in nearby Bexley.
The arts and athletics
The German immigrants brought with them a vibrant athletic and artistic heritage, which was reflected in their social establishments. The Columbus Maennerchor, a singing group, was established in 1848, and as early as 1852, won a ribbon for their talent at the North American Sangerfest. In 1866, the group won the silver pokal at a festival held in Louisville. In the late 19th century, another singing group called the Columbus Liederkranz was formed by the Germans, but was forced to cease during World War I because of heavy anti-German pressure. Many of its members joined the Maennerchor, which survived.
In the 1860s and 1870s the Maennerchor formed a drama division called the "Dramatischen Sektion." They would produce operas, dramas, and comedies until disbanding in the 1930s. One of their notable performances was their 1927 production of Friedrich von Schiller's Die Räuber. Another social group was the Schiller Club, founded in 1900.
The Columbus Turn Verein was a social and athletic (tumbling) association that dated back to 1866, and was a main organization from which the German immigrants drew mutual support. In the late 19th century the Turners merged with the Germania Gesang Verein, which hosted a Maennerchor and a Damenchor. Another merger enlarged the Germania in the late 1920s. The Germania merged with the Kicker’s Soccer Club, which for many years was a very active part of the organization. The club also now includes a Fahrrad Verein (Bicycle Club), which goes on weekend outings to bike trails throughout Central Ohio. The club's official name is now the Germania Gesang und Sport Verein (singing and sports club). The Germania Club itself was located in a residence on Kossuth Street, but outgrew its first facility. In 1927 it purchased the present location at 543 South Front Street from the estate of Nicolaus Schlee, one of the prestigious brewmasters of the neighborhood. The society is now located in the neighborhood known as the Brewery District of Columbus, which is the northernmost section of the German Village. Over the years the Germania Club has made it its mission to retain, promote and disseminate all that is good about German culture. A major component of this mission is the practice and performance of German song. Their choruses participate and support public events throughout Ohio during the year in appreciation for the community’s support. The Germania Club will celebrate its 147th anniversary in 2013 with an Oktoberfest that will feature its choruses.
In 1890, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team played their first-ever home game in the south end, at a location just west of present-day Schiller Park between Jaeger, Ebner, and Whittier (then called Schiller) Streets.
German Brewery District
A prosperous industry for the German immigrants was the brewing industry. Today, the Brewery District, part of the greater German Village neighborhood, still partially resembles its notable past. During the 19th century, the area was found largely along both sides of S. Front Street from Livingston Avenue to Sycamore Street.
Notable breweries during this period included the Bavarian Brewery, started in 1849 by George Schlegel, which ultimately became the Shlegel Bavarian Brewery in 1860 when Bavarian Nicholas Schlee immigrated and took over. Schlee was president of the company that eventually constructed the Great Southern Hotel downtown. Schlee also owned the Lyceum Theater and served as vice president of the Central Bank. Conrad Born opened the Capital Brewery in 1859 and was also president of the Century Discount Company. The industry flourished during the early 20th century.
One of the last major brewers of the city before Prohibition was August Wagner, who immigrated from Bavaria in the late 19th century and worked as the brewmaster at the City Brewery before becoming president and general manager of the Gambrinus Brewing Company. By 1919, he had purchased all of the stock for the company to become the sole owner, and in 1938 he changed the name to August Wagner Breweries, Inc. He was known to parade around on a horse costumed as Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer. A statue of Gambrinus is located at 605 S. Front Street.
Twenty-nine breweries have existed in and around the village throughout its history.
Hoster Brewing Dynasty
While English breweries were found originally in the city, as German immigrants moved in, their brewing techniques were universally embraced and became the dominant methods for producing beer. Louis Hoster, an immigrant from Rheinpfalz, Germany, is notably credited for this transformation when he opened the City Brewery in the 1830s. He would go on to serve on the City Council between 1846 and 1854 while establishing the city's first wollen mill in 1852. In 1864, he established the Louis Hoster & Sons Brewery, which became the Hoster Columbus Associated Breweries in 1904. He would also serve on the Board of Education and was a Unionist Democrat.
Later members of Louis Hoster's brewing dynasty included his son Louis Philip Hoster, president of the Columbus Structural Steel Company, and Herman Hoster, son of Louis's son George, a graduate of Yale University, treasurer of Hoster Columbus Associated Breweries, and founder of the Columbus Envelope Company. Another son of George was Carl J. Hoster, graduate of Cornell University, who was President of the Hoster Columbus Associated Breweries as well as the Director of the Hayden Clinton National Bank and Columbus Driving Park Association, President of the U.S. Brewer's Association, 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite, and great-great uncle of former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Hoster Street in the German Village stretches six blocks between Lazelle and S. Front Streets.
Dr. Herman A. Hoster, Jr.
Dr. Herman A. Hoster, Jr. was the son of Herman Hoster, and name-bearer of the Herman A. Hoster Research Laboratory of the Department of Medicine and the Department of Zoology at the Ohio State University. He was a graduate of Yale University and Johns Hopkins University who would suffer from Hodgkin's Disease. After learning of his illness, Dr. Hoster resigned his medical position with Yale to return home to Columbus. There he focused on research of the disease at Ohio State University. He became a professor of medicine and eventually an associate director of research at the College of Medicine, where he performed experiments on himself related to his illness, including some at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He published several leading research papers, including support of radiation therapy to treat the disease.
Dr. Hoster became a charter member of the Hodgkin's Disease Research Foundation in New York City, serving as the original President between 1947 and 1951. The first headquarters of the foundation was established at St. Vincent's Hospital and included as board members Dr. Robert Chambers of New York University, Dr. Antonio Rottino, vice president of St. Vincent's Hospital, Dr. Harry Rolnick of Philadelphia, and John Finn, vice president of Fordham University.
The area was in serious decline throughout the first half of the 20th century, partly due to anti-German sentiment during World War I. This was sparked by the sinking of the Lusitania by Germany, in which innocent women and children lost their lives. The media used this to demonize Germany and German-Americans. The Germans claimed the ship was transporting weapons in a war zone, which the British and American governments denied. However, in 2008, millions of rounds of ammunition were found at the wreckage of the ship.
During that time, the teaching of German in public schools was banned and German textbooks were burned. German street names were changed, such as Germania Street becoming the present-day Stewart Avenue, and Schiller Park was temporarily renamed Washington Park. The anti-German sentiment fueled by the media was so bad that in 1918, German books were burned on Broad Street and at the foot of the Schiller statue. German canine breeds were taken from their owners and slaughtered, including German Shepherds and Dachshunds. Despite the hatred, the Columbus German American community would produce one of America's finest heroes from the war, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, for whom Rickenbacker International Airport in southern Columbus is named.
Further decline occurred later due to the closing of the local breweries during Prohibition. After the war, the south end was zoned for manufacturing, leading to the erosion of the area's residential feel. In World War II, the streetcar tracks and wrought-iron fences were confiscated for the war effort. By the 1950s, the area had become a slum and the city decided to demolish one-third of the neighborhood.
Nearing complete destruction, Frank Fetch defied the common wisdom and purchased a house on S. Wall Street, determined to rebuild the neighborhood. Fetch would create the German Village Society. In June 1960, the society hosted the first Haus und Garten Tour, which attracted visitors and the local media to eight restored homes and two gardens. Today, the tour is one of the city's most popular events. Frank Fetch Park was named after him.
Concerned citizens managed to save its historic architecture from demolition in the 1960s by successfully lobbying for a local commission, the German Village Commission, to have power over external changes made to buildings, and by getting the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. As of 2009[update], the German Village Society has over 1,000 preservationists dedicated to maintaining the historic quality of the buildings and neighborhood and German Village is considered one of the most desirable areas to live in the city. More than 1,600 buildings have been restored since 1960 and it is credited as one of the premiere restoration districts in the world. By the 1980s, the restoration was nearly complete. Today, it is the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Residential Real Estate
The area is mostly a residential neighborhood of sturdy, red-brick homes with wrought iron fences along tree-lined, brick-paved streets. The average home price is $377,450. Several homes in the neighborhood are priced at over $1 million, including a 5,200-square-foot (480 m2) home that sold in August 2007 for $1.5 million. Another home, which was purchased for $1.4 million in 2006, boasts an underground tunnel linking the main house with the garage, which also serves as an art and wine cellar.
German Village has a commercial strip mainly centered along S. Third Street, with mostly locally owned restaurants — such as Katzinger's Delicatessen — and the 32-room Book Loft bookstore. The neighborhood is home to one of the world's largest producers of stained glass, the Franklin Art Glass Studios Inc., as well as several art galleries including the Archive Gallery, Hawk Galleries, Keny Gallery, Kight Studio 551, and Metroscap. Shops catering to European-imported retail include Caterina Ltd. and T. David Collection.
Numerous neighborhood restaurants won 2010 ThisWeek Community Papers awards, including Skillet as the Best New Restaurant in the city, and Thurman Café for Best Burgers. Barcelona, noted for its Spanish cuisine, won for Best Patio and is a consistent Columbus Dispatch best city restaurant. Lindey's was runner-up for the same award that year and was voted one of Columbus's top 10 restaurants for 18 years straight. It has appeared previously in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Gourmet magazine. In 2010, Max and Erma's was runner up for Best Casual Restaurant and Best Soups, Pistacia Vera runner-up for Best Desserts, and Roosters won Best Wings.
German Village is the home of the first restaurant in the Max & Erma's chain. In 1972, the restaurant was opened by Barry Zacks. The name was adopted from the original tavern, started in 1958 by Max and Erma Visocnik, which the new owners converted into the popular theme restaurant.
The German Village Guest House has been recognized as one of the best in the Midwest by the New York Post, The Plain Dealer, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and positively reviewed by the Washington Post and The Tennessean. It was rated as the "Best Columbus Hotel 2010" by City Search.
In 2006, local media personality Andrea Cambern, in collaboration with the German Village Society and WBNS, narrated a 10-minute documentary short on the neighborhood, which won an Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award.
Schiller Park, named after Friedrich von Schiller, which was once a community meeting ground for the German settlement, is now the site of recreational facilities, gardens, and an amphitheater that hosts free live performances of Shakespearean plays during the summer months courtesy of Actors Theatre of Columbus. It is bounded by Jaeger Street and City Park, Reinhard, and Deshler Avenues. It has been the area's center for festivals and neighborhood activities since the 1800s.
The main entrance of the 23-acre park, along City Park Avenue, greets visitors with the Huntington Gardens, sponsored by Huntington National Bank and maintained by volunteers, and the Schiller statue. The statue was presented to the park by local residents in 1891. It is a second casting of the statue in Munich, Germany, designed and executed by Max von Widnmann and unveiled on May 9, 1863. The Columbus statue was transported free of charge across the Atlantic. The park is also home to the Umbrella Girl Fountain, dedicated to the citizens of German Village in October 1996 to replace the missing original sculpture.
Preserve America Community
German tradition has long reigned in the community in the form of an annual Oktoberfest festival. It originally took place in Schiller Park and has been held at various locations within the German Village neighborhood. Due to new development in the area, it now takes place at the Ohio State Fairgrounds / Ohio Expo Center. The festival was voted to be canceled in 2009, but the Schmidt (owners and operators of Schmidt's Sausage Haus) and Cox families stepped in to keep it running. A smaller Oktoberfest still goes on in the German Village itself, at the Germania Gesang und Sport Verein (Singing and Sports Club) at 543 South Front Street in the old Schlee Brewmaster's House and outdoor garden. 
Although German Village is an eclectic community, the area is particularly known as a Columbus "gayborhood." While no gay establishments are located within the German Village limits, several gay-friendly bars are located in the neighboring Brewery District and Merion Village. The 2010 Gay Softball World Series was held at nearby Lou Berliner park.
America's Great Places
In 2011, German Village was named as one of America's Great Places in the Neighborhoods category by the American Planning Association. Their description reads, "Unpretentious, renovated houses and cottages stand shoulder to shoulder. Small, meticulously maintained front yards front tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and cultivated village planters. Small businesses and storefronts with eye-catching displays and the aroma of culinary delights draw in passing pedestrians. German Village has remained true to its mid-19th century history, architecture, and character despite periods of disinvestment, decline, and near ruin.".
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- German Village Society, 1914-1920 Retrieved 26 July 2009.
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- Book Loft
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- The Actor's Theatre
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- Columbus Oktoberfest
- Oktoberfest, Germania Gesang und Sport Verein.
- Travis Hoewischer, "Why is Columbus so Gay? How the capital city of a conservative state became the GLBT mecca of the Midwest", 614 magazine, June 1, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
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- Media related to German Village (Columbus, Ohio) at Wikimedia Commons
- The German Village Society
- Germania Gesang und Sport Verein
- Columbus Oktoberfest at Ohio Fairgrounds
- Oktoberfest held in German Village
- "German Village's Oktoberfest in Columbus Ohio at Ohio Fairgrounds"
- "Columbus' German Village Featured on the Today Show"
- American Planning Association's Great Places in America
- APA Great Places in America: Neighborhoods 2011