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 Neil purchased 300 acres (1.2 km2) 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 vast property to reach his farm, which became known as Neil Avenue.
Transportation and hospitality magnate
In 1839, he began the construction of the first of three Neil House Hotels at a cost of $100,000, which stood across from the statehouse until 1974. He also ventured into the stage coach business, owning lines to Wheeling, Cleveland, Sandusky, Marietta and Indianapolis, and at one point said to own all of the stage lines from Cumberland, Maryland to St. Louis. By 1845 he had ventured into the railroad industry, the new transportation technology from that time. He was involved in the construction of the first rail to Xenia, and would operate rail lines to Cleveland and Indiana.
Neil was considered a leader in Ohio, although never a politician. He was friends with many national and state officials, including U.S. President William Henry Harrison, in which a cane Neil used was made from a buckeye tree given to him by Harrison.
Neil was married to Hannah Shwing, one of the city's most charitable characters and founder of the Columbus Female Benevolent Society, Hannah Neil Mission, and Home for the Friendless. Their children included Ohio First Lady Anne Neil Dennison, Elizabeth McMillen, wife of William McMillen, as well as three sons, William Jr., John, and Col. Henry.
Most of the houses within the village were originally built in the early 1900s, when a streetcar line ran through that part of town. Some of the wealthier citizens wished for a location convenient to the train, so residences quickly sprang up in the area.
Eighty years ago with the proliferation of the automobile, many residents moved to northern and western suburbs of the city, resulting in a decline of the neighborhood. The nearby Flytown and Short North neighborhoods suffered similar decline.
Blighted with crime and decay, restorationists were inspired by the success of the revitalization project in German Village and undertook their own in the neighborhood in the last half of the 20th century. The area underwent gentrification when Bohemian types moved in and purchased homes in the range of $80,000; the same homes cost $300–$400K today.
Today, the village is one of the most attractive in the city and some of the homes have been split into rented apartments, while others remain as historical landmarks. Still others have since been purchased and restored to their original style.
Goodale Park is the center of the community, surrounded by elaborate Victorian-style homes, including the Sells Mansion, built in 1895 by Peter Sells, owner of the Sells Brothers Circus, and designed by Frank Packard. It also the location of Cocoa Manor, once host to filming of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Victorian Gate condominiums are located on the east side of the park.
The neighborhood is considered a diverse village, including residents of different sexual orientations, made up of families and singles, homeowners and tenants. It is one of four neighborhoods in the city with its own architectural review commission.
Once a year, usually in September, the community holds the annual Victorian Village Tour of Homes and Gardens, with approximately a dozen houses opening their doors for people to walk through and admire. 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.
- "William "Billy" Neil", Touring Ohio. Retrieved 10 sept 2010.
- "Columbus: the story of a city", Ed Lentz. Arcadia Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7385-2429-8, ISBN 978-0-7385-2429-0. p. 56.
- "History of the city of Columbus, capital of Ohio, Volume 2", Alfred Emory Lee. W.W. Munsell & Co. 1892. p. 251.
- "Centennial history of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio, Volume 1", William Alexander Taylor. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909. p. 514-515.
- "Insiders' Guide to Columbus, Ohio, 2nd", Shawnie Kelley. Globe Pequot, 2008. ISBN 0-7627-4784-6, ISBN 978-0-7627-4784-9. p. 265.
- "Successful rebirth", Sherri Williams. Columbus Dispatch. 7 sept 2008. Retrieved 5 sept 2010.
- "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.
- "Cocoa Manor," Central Ohio Home & Garden Magazine. Winter 2010. p. 43
- Victorian Village & the Neighborhoods of the Short North
- Media related to Victorian Village at Wikimedia Commons