Victorian Village is a neighborhood located north and near west of downtown Columbus, Ohio. It is an older area with a fair number of established trees for an urban setting. Neil Avenue, a street running north/south and eventually crossing through the campus of The Ohio State University, is its main thoroughfare.
In 1827, Columbus businessman William "Billy" Neil purchased 300 acres of farmland just north of Downtown Columbus from Joseph Vance, and by 1853 owned all of the land from west of North High Street to the Olentangy River, south to First Avenue, and north to Lane Avenue. He constructed a road on this property to reach his farm, which became known as Neil Avenue. After Neil's death, the land was subdivided by his heirs. Southern portions of the Neil Farm were developed and became one of Columbus’s first suburbs, Victorian Village.
Development of land south of the Neil Farm was spurned by the growth in manufacturing in the Olentangy Industrial Cluster, placement of Goodale Park, the city’s first public park, and streetcar service along Neil Avenue and High Streets. Streetcar lines expanded down Neil Avenue in 1879 which connected downtown Columbus and The Ohio State University. Because of the streetcar, Neil Avenue became a major north-south route. The Neil Farm, west of current day Neil Avenue and south of West Fifth Avenue, was platted between 1888 and 1902. Lots were reserved, almost exclusively for large homes. Electric Streetcar Service along High Street in 1888, followed by Neil Avenue in 1891, further increased the demand for housing between The Ohio State University and downtown Columbus. By 1920, the majority of these parcels had filled in with Victorian, Italianate Queen Anne, Second Empire, Carpenter-Stick and Four Square style homes.
Following 1920, the streetcar gave way to the automobile as the main source of transportation. Increased mobility allowed residents to move further away and into suburbs Columbus. As this occurred, businesses also began moving to the suburbs to be closer to their customers. This resulted in the decline of the neighborhood. The nearby Flytown, Short North and Italian Village neighborhoods suffered similar decline.
Renewed interest in Victorian Village was sparked in the 1970’s, following the successes of German Village which had undergone significant revival in the 1960’s. Restoration began in Victorian Village was carried out under the auspices of the Victorian Village Commission, which was established as a historic district by the City of Columbus on 1973.
Victorian Village is a neighborhood located north and near west of Downtown. It is just north of the Arena District and to the East is the Italian Village. It’s southern boundary is a block away from North Market and the Columbus Convention Center and it’s northern boundary is half a mile away from The Ohio State University. It is an older area with a fair number of established trees for an urban setting. Neil Avenue is the main thoroughfare through the Victorian Village, a street which eventually crosses through the campus of The Ohio State University. It shares its High Street boundary with the Short North.
Structure and Landmarks
Georgian Style home built by Greg Zanetos, founder of Anthony Thomas Candy Company. Located at 76 Buttles Avenue
Neil Avenue United Methodist Church/Ethopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Built betweem 1890 and 1914, the Neil Avenue United Methodist Church was first designed by the J.W. Yost firm in 1890, but later completed by Stribling and Lum in 1914. In 1996 it became the home to the Ethopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church.
Often referred to as the hub of Victorian Village, Goodale Park is a 32 acre park at the southern tip of Victorian Village. Goodale Park is bounded by Buttles Avenue and Goodale Street to the north and south, and Dennison Avenue and Park Street on its west and east sides. As Columbus’s oldest planned park, it was established after land was gifted to the city by Lincoln Goodale. Goodale Park today is known as host for ComFest, a major annual festival.
Built in 1895 by the circus magnate Peter Sells (of Sells Brothers Circus), architect Frank Packard designed this Romanesque house with influence from the Sells family trip to California in 1891. The dramatic rooflines, curved Moorish style windows, and terracotta-tiles roof suggest a similar profile to that of a circus big top. Packard also designed the carriage house, occupied by the servants of the Sells family. Once settled in the new residence, the Sells furnished the house with pieces from their travels around the world, creating a lavish and exotic interior feel to the interior. The Sells family occupied the house until 1899, when Peter and his wife Mary divorced due to Mary’s alleged infidelity. The ensuing divorce trial was front page news, as Columbusites became fascinated with the scandalous circumstances the divorce was filed upon. Peter Sells gained the split from his wife in December 1900 and removed her from his home. After Peter’s death in 1904, the usage of the Sells Brothers house has varied greatly, ranging from a nursery school to a shelter house for recovering alcoholics. The home is now privately owned.
41 West Third Avenue
Built in 1870, Henry Howe wrote the Historical Collections of Ohio in this home in 1889. In 1910, the home was bought and extensively renovated by Dr. Clovis Taylor, who built an addition centered on the usage of mahogany woodwork. The addition included a bar, parlor, enlarged entrance hall, and iconic wraparound porch. After its usage as a funeral home through the 1950s, the house underwent another renovation in the 1970s. Owner Larry Schwartzenberger restored the 14’ bar and added a 1920-era soda fountain.
846 Park Street
Howard Dwight Smith, known for his work on Ohio Stadium, built this Arts & Crafts-style home in 1923. It is noted for the ivy-covered lawn and intense greenery. This home stands one block off of High Street.
Victorian Village is considered to be a desirable neighborhood. While some of the homes have been split into rented apartments, many remain as nationally-registered historical landmarks. Mix of housing densities adds to the diverse nature of Victorian Village. Renewal of the neighborhood has led to significant increases in property values over the past two decades.
Once a year, usually in September, the community holds the annual Victorian Village Tour of Homes and Gardens, with approximately a dozen houses open for viewing and walking tours. The night before, an additional "bonus" house not on the general public's list is toured as part of a fundraiser for the area. Dinners served in local restaurants, and occasionally individuals' homes, also support it.
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- "Victorian Village History". Victorian Village Homes Ken Wightman.
- "Columbus Electric Railway Chronology".
- "Day Trips from Cincinnati, 7th: Getaways Less Than Two Hours Away", David Hunter, Sacha DeVroomen Bellman, Felix Winternitz. Globe Pequot, 2003. ISBN 0-7627-2749-7, ISBN 978-0-7627-2749-0. p. 106.
- "Victorian Village Commission".
- Patzer, N. (1999, April). CircusTown. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://www.shortnorth.com/CircusTown.html
- Ridenour, C. (n.d.). www.shortnorthcivic.org. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://www.shortnorthcivic.org/
- "Successful rebirth", Sherri Williams. Columbus Dispatch. 7 sept 2008. Retrieved 5 sept 2010.
- Victorian Village & the Neighborhoods of the Short North
- Media related to Victorian Village at Wikimedia Commons