Drake Union 2023


Moonrise on an early June morning with the sun almost up at 5:30 AM. Bill Davis Baseball Stadium in foreground. fawecett Center for Tomorrow in the background.

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 and thousands more come here daily to work, study, or attend events. 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


UNIVERSITY DISTRICT PHOTO ALBUM- Images of our neighborhood from the past 150 years. 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46


DANCE MARATHON 2 AT INDIANOLA PARK- In 1930, Indianola held another dance marathon. It would be bigger, longer, and wilder. Sensibilities would be outraged. Things would happen that no one had anticipated. The authorities would get involved. Police raids would be threatened. Hustlers would end up out-hustled. Consequences would arise that would change the park forever. COMING SOON!

CAMPUS' GREATEST BEFORE-THEY-WERE-STARS- Nirvana, KISS, Aerosmith, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Walsh and more all played small and fondly remembered campus shows before-they-were-stars. COMING SOON!

UNIVERSITY THEATRE- This 1947 High St motion picture theater was a shrine to Ohio State football great Chic Harley and a temple to Ohio State football.

UNDERGROUND CINEMA 12- In the late 1960s, Saturday nights at midnight, High St's World Theater was home to all sorts of strange, revolutionary, controversial, and daring visions.

1914- Indianola Park management announces female bathers will no longer be required to wear swim skirts. One-piece suits a la swimmer Annette Kellerman acceptable. June 10.

1919- Ohio State freshman Gladys Amlin is “Miss Centenary” at massive Methodist Missions Centenary at state fairgrounds. Millions will attend monthlong world's fair of Methodism. June 20.

1926- Browning Amphitheater in Mirror Lake Hollow dedicated. "Midsummer Night's Dream" is first performance there. June 11.

1929- Campus' most scandalous crime: Ohio State med student Theora Hix brutally murdered by her ex-lover, esteemed vet med professor, sportsman,  and community pillar Dr James Snook. June 13.

1972- New $4.8 million ($33 million in 2022 $) Drake Union opens on the banks of the Olentangy River, offering bowling alleys, restaurants, pool tables, student lounges, a theater, a bookstore, and a marina. June 19.

1974- Kelmar, The Mad Magician's, "TERRORAMA" spookshow live on-stage at The Garden, 1178 N High. The Hollywood Vampire, The Werewolf, Frankenstein monster LIVE! Plus a Screen Full of Blood-Dripping Horror. June 13.

2012- Late afternoon "Derecho" blasts city with 80 mph winds. Damaging buildings, felling trees and branches, knocking out power for weeks. June 29.

THE BLUE DANUBE- After 78 years at N High and Blake, this fabled campus eatery closed its doors in 2018.
PIZZA!- Pizza is the staff of life on a college campus. Pizza places of the University District. Then and now.
THE GATES OF HELL- Russell the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel returns for Halloween to take you to the secluded and infamous University District spot they call The Gates of Hell.
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.
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?
SOUTH CAMPUS 1999- A photo tour of the South Campus bar strip before it was all torn down and replaced by the Gateway.
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 nearly two centuries of The Ohio State Fair.
BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR- Russell, the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel returns for Halloween with the story of the 1980s straight-to-video horror movie filmed at Ohio State and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
DON ROBINSON "THE RAPPING BUM"- Fondly-remembered High St. rhymer.
CHANNEL 8, W08BV- From 1985-91, broke college students had viewing choices thanks to a fondly recalled low-power TV station.
THE COED MEETS THE GROOVY GHOUL (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.
CAMPUS' GREATEST BEFORE-THEY-WERE-STARS- Nirvana, KISS, Aerosmith, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Walsh and more all played small and fondly remembered campus shows before-they-were-stars.
JEFFREY DAHMER: FRESHMAN- For Halloween, the story of the notorious serial killer's one and only quarter at Ohio State.
A NIGHT AT THE DRIVE-IN- Reliving a 1974 dusk-til-dawn horror show at campus' drive-in, the W. 5th Ave Drive-In, 900 W. 5th Ave.
REVOLUTION CORNER (Hunter at E. 10th Ave.)- Forty years ago, campus communists tried to inflame the student body with propaganda in concrete.
THE 1970 RIOTS- Protestors with rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails battled police and National Guardsmen with clubs, guns, and tear gas. The streets of the University District became a war zone and the neighborhood changed forever.
THE LITTLE ART THEATER (2523 N. High St.)- In the early 1960s, this aging theater on N. High St. was the home of nudist and other early sexploitation films.
THE CHRISTMAS GHOST- The story of campus' unhappy holiday haunter.
THE HAUNTER OF HAMILTON HALL- Russell the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel claws his way to the surface for Halloween to tell the tale of the Haunter of Hamilton Hall.
THE WOMAN IN PINK- Our old pal Russell, the Semi-Mummified Oval Squirrel is back for Halloween with the tale of campus' oldest spectre.
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.
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 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
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.
DANCE MARATHON 2 AT INDIANOLA PARK- In 1930, Indianola held another dance marathon. It would be bigger, longer, and wilder. Sensibilities would be outraged. Things would happen that no one had anticipated. The authorities would get involved. Police raids would be threatened. Hustlers would end up out-hustled. Consequences would arise that would change the park forever.
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!
MACK HALL AND A SMALL TOWN GIRL, 1929- A postcard from nearly 90 years ago tells a tale of campus life.
W.F.P. VISITS THE METHODIST MISSIONS CENTENARY, 1919- A postcard from nearly 100 years ago tells a tale of a girls visit to the colossal Methodist Missions Centenary at the state fairgrounds.
THE METHODIST MISSIONS CENTENARY- Airplanes and dirigibles, exotic animals, fireworks, live stage shows, a carnival, parades, a Wild West show, a 100 piece all-trombone choir, and a gargantuan 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 the summer of 1919.
OUR ANCESTORS' COLONS (29 E. 5th Ave.)- In the early 20th century, Americans lived in fear of their bowels. Dr. Frank M. Edwards, a University District patent medicine manufacturer, rode that anxiety to a fortune.
THE OHIO WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL- Tucked away in a rarely seen section of Sullivant Hall sat a forgotten (and ultimately dismantled and packed away) tribute to the Ohioans who fought in The Great War.
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.
WORLD WAR MEMORIAL CAMPANILE- One of the most interesting campus buildings that never was.
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.
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.
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.
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 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- In 1911, an oddly symmetric date brought the new University District neighborhoods some of the weirdest, wildest weather ever.
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.
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.
INDIANOLA PARK (1950 N 4TH ST)- From 1905 until 1937, the corner of N. 4th Street and E. 19th Avenue, in the University District, in Columbus, Ohio, was home to a busy amusement park with roller coasters and other rides, a huge swimming pool, a vaudeville theater, and a bustling dance pavilion. So much happened here.
VINTAGE VIEWS: MIRROR LAKE- Antique postcards reveal campus' beloved natural beauty spot as it looked a century ago and in the deacdes since.
THE SELLSVILLE MURDERS- "The most brutal and mysterious in local history" said the papers of this 1908 unsolved mystery.
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.
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. UPDATED!
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.

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