Central High School (Columbus, Ohio)

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Central High School
Central High School 1.jpg
East facade
Interactive map highlighting the building's location
LocationColumbus, Ohio
Coordinates39°57′34″N 83°0′27″W / 39.95944°N 83.00750°W / 39.95944; -83.00750Coordinates: 39°57′34″N 83°0′27″W / 39.95944°N 83.00750°W / 39.95944; -83.00750
ArchitectWilliam B. Ittner
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference No.85000484[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 7, 1985
Designated CRHPJuly 5, 1991

Central High School, also known as High School of Columbus and High School of Commerce, was a four-year secondary school (grades 9–12) located in Franklinton, Columbus, Ohio. It was a part of Columbus City Schools (at the time Columbus Public Schools). The last building was located at 75 South Washington Boulevard and opened in 1924. Prior to that, Central High School was located Downtown at East Broad and Sixth streets from 1862 until 1924.

The school building operated on South Washington Boulevard closed in June 1982. In 1999, the school's historic façade was incorporated into the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), a science center designed by renowned architect Arata Isozaki. Isozaki used the high school's 1924 exterior facing downtown as its east entrance; a balance to the facility's progressively futuristic west entrance.[2] On March 7, 1985, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered part of the Columbus Civic Center Historic District.


Central High School's first location, 1889

Central was one of the original 6 high schools in Columbus Public Schools. The other five were North, South, East, West and Linden McKinley, of which only South, East, West and Linden McKinley remain open. North High School (not to be confused with Northland, which opened in 1965 and remains open) suffered the same fate as Central only 3 years before, closing in 1979.

From 1862 to c. 1928, North High School was located at Broad and Sixth Street, current site of the Capital University Law School. It was considered an architectural ornament for Columbus, and featured a 150-ft.-tall tower. The site was purchased in 1859 and construction was underway from 1860 to 1861, with a cost of $23,400. The school opened in the following fall term. It was originally able to house 300 students, increased as expansions opened in following years.[3] The building was designed by architect Nathan B. Kelley.[4]


Ohio High School Athletic Association team state championships[edit]

  • Baseball – 1929[5][6]
  • Boys' Golf – 1937[5]
  • Boys' Track and Field – 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930[5]
  • Boys' Gymnastics - 1929

Notable alumni[edit]


Because of declining enrollment in the school district and deterioration of the building, Central was closed following the 1981–1982 school year in June 1982 and never opened again.

Teachers (film)[edit]

After its closure, Central High School was used as a shooting location for scenes in the 1984 satirical dark comedy-drama film Teachers. The movie depicted a fictional school, "John F. Kennedy High School," where, as a key element of the storyline, students received passing grades even though they couldn't read. Columbus Public Schools rented the building to the filmmakers, but did not review the script or know at the time how the fictional school in the movie would be depicted. Although the fictional school depicted in Teachers wasn't set in Columbus, CPS still took the storyline of the movie as a discredit to the school district.[citation needed]


Columbus Public Schools sold the building to the City of Columbus for $15 million in 1988. In July 1994, Columbus City Council granted COSI Columbus a 28-year lease on the building.[7] COSI remodeled portions of it for the new site of a museum.[8] Most of the front of the school remains facing the river. The new addition sits on what was the football field of the school.

On November 6, 1999 COSI Columbus moved into the old Central High School building.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "About COSI".
  3. ^ Lee, Alfred Emory (1892). History of the City of Columbus, Capital of Ohio. Vol. 1. Munsell & Company. p. 555. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  4. ^ "Firsts in the Columbus Public Schools" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b c OHSAA. "Ohio High School Athletic Association Web site". Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  6. ^ Yappi. "Yappi Sports Baseball". Archived from the original on 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  7. ^ "COSI Wins Central Lease". Columbus Dispatch. July 19, 1994. pp. 01A. The Columbus City Council voted 6-0 last night to approve a 28-year lease on old Central High School. It will allow COSI to develop the abandoned high school building into a 300,000-square-foot museum and science education center, with a Scioto River view of Downtown. City officials praised it as the type of development they envisioned when Columbus purchased the site for $15 million in 1988.
  8. ^ "Columbus Mileposts - June 11, 1997: COSI breaks ground for riverside location (Photo)". Columbus Dispatch. June 11, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2014.

External links[edit]