Each week in May, Historic Columbus is celebrating how your love of preservation has made a difference in our town. What better way to showcase what revitalization means and looks like in our community, than to spotlight the original city?! Columbus, like many cities in the United States, lost numerous older structures in the 1940s and 1950s for many reasons, including economic hardships, suburban flight, commercial encroachment, road construction, and Mother Nature. Preservation in Columbus began with the Springer Opera House, but its relevance would shine when Historic Columbus moved its focus to the original city.
The Columbus Historic District
Preservationists are not saving memories. They are, instead, creating a vibrant and authentic identity of our town. Janice P. Biggers (HCF Founding Executive Director)
The Columbus Historic District is a 26-block Victorian residential neighborhood. The District is bound on the west by the Chattahoochee River, on the east by the east side of Third Avenue, on the south by Fourth Street, and on the north by Ninth Street.
616 Broadway - Before and After In 1967, in cooperation with the Junior League of Columbus, an inventory of buildings with historic and architectural merit was made. Of the 400 oldest structures inventoried, over 200 were located within this area. Local preservationists and the Columbus Housing Authority established this area as part of an Urban Renewal project. Renovation and restoration work resulted while the neighborhood retained its original character and charm. The Columbus Historic District was originally listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 with later boundary changes in 1988. It is commonly called “The District” and “the original city.”
Historic Columbus has revolved over 70 properties within The District, moved over 30 endangered structures into the neighborhood (including the 1993 & 1998 Parades of Homes) to save them from demolition, and provided over 150 Facade Loans to homeowners in the original city to help improve their historic homes. None of this would be possible without significant private investment, the confidence of our membership and our corporate partners, the City and Housing Authority, and the incredible passion of the residents of The Columbus Historic District.
Beginning in 1969, Historic Columbus began staging events in the downtown neighborhood to bring people to The District once again. Many people don’t realize one of the initial reasons for the opening of the house museums and developing the Salisbury Fair in 1971 was not to raise money, but to bring people, perhaps potential preservation pioneers, into the Columbus Historic District. The Historic District Preservation Society (HDPS) formed in an effort to create cohesion among residents and to share in the woes and pleasures of owning historic homes. Since that time, HDPS has been a thriving partner in preservation to Historic Columbus and the Columbus Historic District. Thank you, HDPS!!
In an interview, Garrison Keillor was asked what place, in all his travels, all around the United States, impressed him the most. This is what he said:
“I was recently in Columbus, Georgia, and really came to love that town in short order.” Mr. Keillor talked of going to Minnie’s for fried chicken and eating barbecue in an old bus station, and getting a tour of the riverfront and old revitalized cotton mills. “Carson McCullers grew up there,” he said, “and her childhood home is preserved. There’s an old opera house there and there’s a fabulous new auditorium that is as fine as any I’ve played in. I stayed in a B&B that I loved, in a shotgun cottage on a quiet street… The people I met in Columbus were so comfortable. I felt at home there right away. It wasn’t ‘star treatment’ or anything like that. It was pure wholehearted Southern Hospitality.”
Sometimes we just need to be reminded — this is a special place.
429 Second Avenue (a joint project of HCF and HDPS) - Before and After
If you are able, please consider joining or making a donation to Historic Columbus. Your contribution will increase heritage education programming in our public schools and preservation projects along the Second Avenue corridor, the original city, City Village, Waverly Terrace, and MidTown Columbus. These are the places where your gift can make a transformational difference in a child’s sense of place and strengthen our neighborhoods one house at a time.