The Columbus Landmarks Foundation offer guided walking tours once a month during the warmer months. The tour we took offered a look at the architecture and history of downtown buildings range in style from Beaux Arts to Gothic, Art Moderne to Greek Revival, Italianate to Arts and Crafts.
Starting at the center of Columbus, the corner of Broad Street and High Street, with the first building discussed being the Huntington Bank building, just south of Broad Street on the west side of the street directly across from the State Capital.
Built in the 1920s the 13 story Huntington Bank Building has a very ornate entrance that thousands of people walk by every day without noticing.
Just around the corner on West Broad Street is the Wyandotte Building, a Chicago school of architecture style eleven story building, considered Columbus’s first skyscraper.
Renown architect Daniel Burnham designed the building with vertical alignments of bay windows called oriels to provide additional lighting and ventilation. The lower floors have battered walls, providing a sense of stability and strength.
Across Broad Street is the LeVeque Tower, along with the Palace Theater. Completed in 1927 at a height of 555 feet 6 inches, intentionally built to be 6 inches taller than the Washington Monument, it was the tallest building between New York and Chicago when completed, although it was eclipsed by the Terminal Tower in Cleveland a couple of years later.
The building is currently undergoing a restoration include repairing the crumbling, cracking terra cotta skin of the building and restoring its art elements of cherubs and guardian angels, shields and garlands. The renovation will create high-rise apartments and revitalize office space in the base.
Across Front Street from the LeVeque Tower is Columbus City Hall. Also built in the 1920s directly facing the Scioto River, it was built in three sections surrounding a central courtyard, a fourth section was added on the west side of City Hall in 1936 to enclose the courtyard and provide additional office space utilizing the Art Deco style of the period.
Interestingly the original main entrance faced the river; this has been long abandoned with the main entrance facing Front Street. The exterior grounds have a number of interesting sculptures, the most noteworthy is a 20 foot tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, a gift to the city from Genoa Italy in 1955.
Continuing south of Front Street we stopped outside the Ohio Supreme Court building, a building we toured extensively in December 2015, noted in an earlier blog posting.
Our last stop was on the Statehouse grounds where we viewed a number of sculptures and monuments, starting with the The Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial, completed in 2014.
After passing another Christopher Columbus statue, we had a quick tour through the statehouse, viewing the rotunda and a couple of the upper floor rooms.
Our final stop was at the Jewels of Ohio statue, honoring 19th century Ohio sons including Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, Edwin Stanton, James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Salmon P. Chase, and William Sherman.
The tour guide was informative and enthusiastic, making the event on this cold October day worthwhile. We ended our morning with lunch at Jack and Benny’s Downtown Diner, warming up to some good diner food.