UDH HEader

After being dry for 9 months while the University investigated leakage, Mirror Lake is full again. Water for the lake is now being drawn from a nearby 140 foot deep well. Lake may be drained again as the University goes forward with plans to redesign the lake.


University District History is a site dedicated to exploring and sharing the rich and fascinating history of the neighborhoods that surround the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.

The 2.8 square miles of the University District are home to nearly 50,000 people. Most of these people are transient residents. They come from some other city, state, or country, stay for their education for 4-6 eventful years, then leave.

A sense of a shared history is essential to building a community. To care about a place, people need a sense of belonging. They need to feel that their story is part of a larger narrative. They need to feel that the place they are in has meaning. They need to feel pride in the place. I believe knowing our area's history can engender these feelings and help build a community.

With so many people coming and going each year, the stories that make this shared history aren't transmitted. That's why this site is here.

This site is a way to share the stories of these neighborhoods. This site is here to tell how this neighborhood came to be, to highlight the remarkable people, institutions, and events that have shaped and been shaped by this place, to commemorate the lives that have been lived here, and to chronicle the changes that have taken place here over the decades.

Enjoy, learn, remember, be inspired, share, and be proud of our incredible community!

D.A. Kellough


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1918- Afternoon fire completely destroys King Ave. Methodist Church (built 1903). August 23.

1924- Over a thousand line-up at the Emerson McMillin Observatory on W. 12th to see Mars on nearest approach to Earth in a century. August 20.

1936- Social security campaigner Francis E. Townshend holds "All-Ohio Rally" for followers at state fairgrounds. August 23.

1969- Lunar visitor and Buckeye Neil Armstrong is butter sculpture at Ohio State Fair. August 21.

1970- Ohio Historical Society Museum (formerly at 15th and High) opens in appalling Brutalist structure at E. 17th and I-71. August 23.

1990- Campus rejoices as WWCD (CD101), Columbus' first alternative rock station, begins broadcasting. August 21.

2012- President Barack Obama stops by Sloopy's in Ohio Union, has Reuben, visits with students. August 21.



Summer. Lawns. Girls in bikinis.

That lazy vibe when most of the neighborhood is staying up until 2 and sleeping to noon every day.

"Fireworks or gunshots?" is a question we ask less and less often.

Late afternoon thunderstorms that roar through like the end of the world.

Dusty, sun-filled streets under a blazing blue sky.

Waking to the sound of roosters crowing, cattle lowing, and that sight-seeing helicopter flying during fair week.

No traffic, plenty of parking, no waiting, no lines.

Sleeping porches.

LATEST (Last updated: August 17, 2014)

CHANNEL 8, W08BV- From 1985-91, broke college students had viewing choices thanks to a fondly recalled low-power TV station. NEW!

DANCE MARATHON AT INDIANOLA PARK- Yowza! Yowza! Yowza! In 1929, the University District's Indianola Park was the location of a dance marathon that ran for 1,163 hours! NEW!

THE LITTLE ART THEATER- In the early 1960s, this aging theater on N. High St. was the home of nudist and other early sexploitation films. NEW!

THE WOMAN IN PINK- Our old pal Russell, the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel is back for Halloween with the tale of campus' oldest spectre. NEW!

EMPTY- When the students go home for Winter Break, the University District gets eerily empty. See what it looks like around here when 50,000 people leave all at once. UPDATED 12-26-13.

FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE OLENTANGY- A dam built in 1935 kept the Olentangy River artificially high as it flowed through the University District. Last summer, that dam was removed and land underwater for 77 years reemerged. So what was on the bottom of the river all that time?

BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR- Russell, the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel returns for Halloween with the story of the 1980s horror movie filmed at Ohio State and in the surrounding neighborhoods. COMING IN SEPTEMBER!

ERWIN FREY- The life, career, and work of the busy sculptor responsible for the iconic statue of William Oxley Thompson at Main Library. SOME DAY!

METHODIST MISSION CENTENARY- Airplanes and dirigibles, strange scenes from exotic lands, wild animals, fireworks, live stage shows, parades, a 100 trombone choir, and a 150' tall movie screen don't sound much like Sunday School but that was the scene when Methodists staged a month-long world's fair at The Ohio State Fairgrounds in 1919. EVENTUALLY!



Snook book

TRIAL OF THE CENTURY- This Jazz Age story of sex, drugs, scandal, and murder was the biggest thing to ever hit Columbus.

In the summer of 1929, the trial of Ohio State professor James Snook for the murder of his student lover Theora Hix was front-page news. The testimony was so shocking that the Vice Squad seized copies of it and the judge restricted the courtroom to adults only. Readers from coast-to-coast were entranced by the story of a fatal attraction that happened on these streets.



This one is a tough one. Do you know where this used to be?


15,000 BC: THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT IN THE LAST ICE AGE- With a population density that rivals Chicago and Boston, nature isn't the first thing you notice around here. Look a little though and it's still there. Look a little closer and you can still see traces of the epic forces that shaped this land thousands of years ago.   THE COLUMBUS STAR- In the mid-Twentieth Century, readers in the University District and elsewhere in Central Ohio spent Sundays enjoying the gossip, scandals, and lurid thrills of Columbus' sensational tabloid paper, The Columbus Star. RATED PG-13.
THE ALHAMBRA THEATER (2159 N. High St.)- Known as The Alhambra, The World, and finally The Roxy, this theater's seven decades in business saw it show everything from the silents to hardcore porn.   THE 11-11-11- One hundred years ago, an oddly symmetric date brought the new University District neighborhoods some of the weirdest, wildest weather ever.
100 YEARS OF UNIVERSITY DISTRICT THEATERS- Summer 2010 marked the centennial of the first movies shown in the University District. These are the theaters University District audiences have enjoyed in the past century.   CROMWELL DIXON (221 W. 11th Ave.)- An incredible adventure story. Cromwell Dixon built an airship in his University District garage before he was 15 and went on to become a pioneer of American aviation.
THE 1970 RIOTS- Protestors armed with rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails battled police and National Guardsmen armed with clubs, guns, and tear gas. The streets of the University District became a war zone and the neighborhood was changed forever.   A SEARS CATALOG HOUSE (164 and 236 E. Maynard Ave., 202 E. Northwood Ave.)- A hundred years ago, it was possible to buy an entire house from a catalog. Many University District residents did. These North Campus homes--"The Maytown" model from Sears--are among several in the neighborhood. UPDATED October 24, 2010.

REVOLUTION CORNER (Hunter at E. 10th Ave.)- Forty years ago, campus communists tried to inflame the student body with propaganda in concrete. UPDATED November 11, 2010.

THE OHIO WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL- Tucked away in a rarely seen section of Sullivant Hall is a forgotten (and soon to be dismantled) tribute to the Ohioans who fought in The Great War. UPDATED! NEW INFORMATION!

THE GHOST IN THE RAVINE- People feel something strange around that bridge. It's as if they can tell something happened there... Russell the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel is back for Halloween with another true University District ghost story.

HENRY T. CHITTENDEN (Chittenden Ave.)- This 19th Century millionaire developer, streetcar tycoon, hotelier, history buff, theater impresario, and songwriter is the namesake of one of the University District's major arteries. UPDATED January 22, 2012.

W.H. KNAUSS (358 E. 15th Ave.)- This Civil War veteran overcame his personal animosities and risked his fortune, reputation, and life to help bind the wounds of a divided nation.


VINTAGE VIEWS: MIRROR LAKE- Antique postcards reveal campus' natural beauty spot as it looked a century ago.

THE OVAL, REAL PHOTO POSTCARD, c. 1915- Exploring campus long ago through a photo somebody took on a winter's day in the late 1910s.

THE EGG FIGHT RIOT- Cops and students battling, bricks and bottles vs. firehoses, clubs, and tear gas; and cries of "Kill the cops!" are scenes usually associated with the tumultuous 1960s and 70s--not the 1930s. Read the story of the University District's first riot. RATED PG-13

UGLY BOXES- When Ohio State enrollment exploded in the 1960s and 70s, developers responded by throwing up apartment buildings based on the principle of as-many-students-per-square-foot-as-cheaply-as-possible. Here's a selection of these aesthetic abominations.

THE PHOTOPLAY THEATER(1597 N. High St.)- Another long-forgotten campus theater from the early days of motion pictures rediscovered.

THE IDEAL THEATER (1145 Summit St.)- This small building was home to one of a half-dozen storefront theaters that proliferated in the University District at the dawn of motion pictures.

THE COLUMBUS ROWHOUSE- The often ignored, dismissed, and belittled Columbus Rowhouse is one of the most common housing types in the University District. Find out about this unique style and the role rowhouses have played in the neighborhood.

  DR. EDWARDS' OLIVE TABLETS (29 E. 5th Ave.)- In the early 20th century, Americans lived in fear of their colons. A University District patent medicine manufacturer rode that anxiety to a fortune. UPDATED January 22, 2012.

THE COED MEETS THE GROOVY GHOULIE (Chittenden, maybe)- Russell the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel introduces a true University District ghost story for Halloween. A coed's night of partying ends in naked terror after an encounter with a thing from beyond the grave! RATED R.

JAMES A. WHITE (44 E. 12th Ave.)- Just a hundred yards from UDF's Beer Barn stands the home of the architect of Ohio Prohibition.

JEFFREY DAHMER: FRESHMAN- For Halloween, the story of the notorious serial killer's one and only quarter at Ohio State.

STRANGE STORIES OF THE OHIO STATE FAIR- What happened to Darth Vader at the fair? Why was E. 11th Ave. a seething pit of sin? What was an intercontinental ballistic missile doing on E. 17th? Here are some interesting episodes and anecdotes from the 158 year history of The Ohio State Fair. UPDATED August 3, 2012!  

A NIGHT AT THE DRIVE-IN- Reliving a 1974 dusk-til-dawn horror show at the W. 5th Ave Drive-In, 900 W. 5th Ave.

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