German Village: An Overview
Just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio, the German Village neighborhood was settled in the early-to-mid-nineteenth century by German immigrants who, by 1865, represented one-third of the city’s population. In 1974, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, German Village represents one of the foremost restored communities in the U.S. From annual Oktoberfest celebrations, to locally-owned restaurants, cafes and shops, German influence is strong and celebrated here.Central to neighborhood activities is 23-acre Schiller Park, named in honor of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, a famous German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. Officially a city park since 1867, it hosts gardens, recreational facilities and an amphitheater. Known for being eclectic and accepting, German Village is a favored neighborhood of the city’s LGBTQ community.
A Bit of German Village History
During the first decade or so of the 1800s, Revolutionary War veteran John McGowan sold parcels of his 362-acre landholdings to German immigrants. By 1814, a small settlement had been formed. That settlement would become German Village as its large German population proceeded to build homes, schools, churches and businesses. During the early half of the 20th century, however, the neighborhood experienced major decline, due at least in part to the anti-German sentiment running high during World War I. By the 1950s, as the decline continued, approximately one-third of German Village was demolished during City of Columbus’s urban renewal effort. The neighborhood’s renewal and preservation began when Columbus resident Frank Fetch purchased a home there and founded The German Village Society. During the 1960s, a group of citizens lobbied strongly for the formation of a German Village Commission, which oversees external changes to local historic buildings and succeeded in getting the neighborhood listed in the National Register of Historic Places. To date, over 1,600 buildings have been restored and German Village is the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register. Any discussion of German Village history would be incomplete, however, without mention of its beer-making past. Over the years, nearly 30 breweries have called the neighborhood home.
German Village Real Estate
Although the neighborhood was founded as mostly residential, with shops and other businesses scattered here and there, it was subsequently zoned favoring commercial and manufacturing. Thanks to the efforts of the German Village Society, the area is now zoned high-density residential. Rows of red brick homes on narrow lots and lining narrow streets lined with trees and sidewalks form a picturesque, storybook scene. There are larger homes as well – both historic and of newer construction.
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