German Village: Columbus, Ohio

March 17, 2014

Just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio lies German Village. This urban neighborhood filled with manicured gardens, beautiful homes, unique shops, and restaurants is an incredible example of how grassroots historic preservation efforts can save a neighborhood.

German Village

German Village was developed primarily between 1840-1914 and become home to a largely German population (hence the name) by the end of the 1950s. People spoke German in schools, stores, church and most professionals spent their leisure time in the neighborhoods various bier gartens. This village was a little slice of Germany for many immigrants.

A manufacturing zoning ordinance and two world wars had left the once thriving and solidly built neighborhood a slum. In the 1959, the entire village faced wholesale demolition, but a group of like-minded citizens under the direction of Frank Fetch,  joined together to form the German Village Society.  With preservation and rehabilitation as their main goals, the German Village Society were able to achieve both by changing the zoning ordinance, and ensured the neighborhoods protection by creating a local historic district. German Village was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Ironically, the same characteristics that urban renewal studies of Columbus used to describe “blight” are the very attributes that give German Village its unique and appreciated character today: small lots, narrow streets and the absence of new development.

german village

“The German Village Society presently has nearly 1,000 preservationist-minded members who are dedicated to maintaining the historic quality of the buildings and neighborhood. As a result, German Village is currently considered one of the most desirable areas to live in the city, if not the premiere place in Columbus to live.  More than 1,600 buildings have been restored since 1960, and it is credited as one of the most premiere restoration districts in the world. Today, German Village is a model of urban neighborhood preservation and revitalization - a nationally recognized success story. The average home price in the neighborhood is $377,450 and several are well over $1 million. The Village is mostly a residential neighborhood of sturdy, red-brick homes with wrought iron fences along tree-lined, brick-paved streets.”

Charming homes and gardens aren’t the only reason to explore German Village. This neighborhood is also home to a variety of locally owned businesses and restaurants. A couple of my favorites… Pistachia Vera and Hausfrau Haven. It doesn’t get much better than pastries and wine.

German Village

 

Sources: German Village SocietyGerman Village CVB 

5 comments

  • Catherine Hamrick

    Great post!!! Ohio is closer than I think. Of course, I need to crash at your place for the Big B. Trying to get to The Southern C summit.

  • Sarah Marsom

    Thank you for the nice write up! We will be including a link to your article in the German Village Society’s weekly newsletter (this week).
    -Sarah Marsom
    Historic Preservation Advocate, German Village Society

  • Grey

    Hi Emily! I found your blog by looking around the #PresConf tags on Instagram from the national historic preservation conference last November. I love your blog, and I will definitely have to check out the archives! It’s great to see another Hoosier blogger who loves historic preservation!

    As for German Village, Wow! This place is beautiful! I’ll have to put it on my travel list. I can’t believe that old definition of blight!

    P.S. How do you manage to travel so much? Any tips? I’m currently a busy grad student, but I hope to start taking more short trips to explore the Midwest and South!

    • ealabord@gmail.com

      Hi Grey! Thank you so much. Yes- check out German Village! It is one of my favorite discoveries in the Midwest so far.

      I started my blog in graduate school back in Athens, Georgia and we jokingly referred to our programs as a masters in field trip studies because we traveled throughout the South for research and site visits. My grad assistant position as an architectural surveyor enabled me to travel extensively in Georgia. After grad school, I worked as an independent social media manager so with my laptop and wifi I have been able to work anywhere. I have recently taken a job in Bloomington, Indiana at our local newspaper so traveling is a little trickier but I’m a big fan of day trips and weekend getaways- great way to recharge and see somewhere new without a big investment. Where and what are you studying in grad school?
      I look forward to checking out your blog as well!

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