William A. Schnieder, a thrifty, practical contractor was elected Mayor in 1935 and began setting aside certain tax income to build a new city hall. His efforts were successful, and the building was completely paid for when dedicated April 5, 1952.
Mayor Schnieder continued in the office for fifteen more years before leaving the political arena after thirty two consecutive years as Belxey’s Mayor. In the years which have followed, planning for Bexley’s growth has continued the planning begun by the earliest residents.
While Belxey grows, its leaders will continue to plan for that growth to ensure Bexley will always be the most desirable of all communities.
1921 was a year of both growth and plans for growth. The high school was nearing completion, and the Cassingham Elementary School was to be built soon. With the population at nearly two thousand, Mayor Stephen Ludwig undertook to govern future expansion by appointing the first zoning commission and revising the building code.
A milestone in Bexley’s history occurred with the 1930 census revealed the village’s population had passed the 5,000 mark. Bexley officially became a city April 11., 1931.
By 1915, the village had hired its first marshal, and the council was meeting in the basement of the new East Main Street school building. Total assets of the village were listed as a road scraper, a wheel barrow, the marshal’s bicycle and a vacant lot which was to be the site of the town hall within the next nine years.
The young village was soon embroiled in a legal battle with neighboring Columbus. The city regarded Bexley as annexed territory, refusing to acknowledged its incorporation, and sought to tax its residents accordingly. Villagers protested and appointed Mayor Holtzman as an individual taxpayer to file an injunction suit.
Later in the proceedings, the village formally declared itself co-defendant and in the end won a favorable decision when the case reached the Ohio Supreme Court.
In August, 1908, the first Bexley village council representing approximately one thousand citizens, met in the University’s Recitation Hall. With Frank P. Holzman as Mayor, the first council passed ordinances prohibiting residents from allowing cattle to graze on village property, outlawed intoxication, assault and the discharging of firearms and banned slaughter houses from the area.
Barely a year after starting the association, the founders decided to incorporate as a village the area south of Town Street (now Bryden Road). This would have left the Jeffrey community to fend for itself as each area lacked sufficient population to incorporate separately and both were unwilling to be absorbed by Columbus. Talk of combining the two groups soon began.
On a day early in the summer of 1908, one hundred and forty-four representatives of the two communities met on the terrace of Mr Jeffrey’s mansion and agreed to unite forces. There was much disagreement, however, over a name for the proposed village. The southern contingent proposed the name Pleasantridge while the northern group had other suggestions.
The dispute was resolved when Colonel Lincoln Kilbourne, after searching through some old English surveying books, came upon the name Bexley, a parish near his family’s home in the County of Kent, England. The name met with almost immediate approval.
By 1906, the area north of Town Street (now Bryden Road) continued to develop as an exclusive residential community of prominent Central Ohio families led by R.H. Jeffrey, who later became Mayor of Columbus. They established rigid building restrictions which are credited with the character of the areas subsequent growth.
At the same time, residents in the university area also felt the need for controlled growth and in January 1907 established the Pleasant Ridge Improvement Association. Its founders pledged to organize and develop the flourishing community by building roads and cinder sidewalks, installing lights, encouraging residents to plant trees and inducing “desirable people to buy property and locate in the community”.
The Pleasant Ridge Improvement Association also pioneered the first street lighting system in the community. A Capital University Student submitted the lowest of the bids which ranged from two dollars to ninety-five cents to install each of the sixteen gas lamps.
In the late 1880’s, development took a turn which would have a profound effect on the eventual character of Bexley. Several wealthy Columbus businessmen, recognizing the area quiet beauty, began building large homes in estate settings along the east bank of Alum Creek north of Broad Street.
This new growth slowed as the region played out a brief chapter in military history. As the site of Camp Bushnell, a section of the area now Bexley was a city of tents for mustering in Spanish American War Ohio volunteers. The camp was disbanded at the end of the war only two years later, leaving sewers and a water line from Columbus as a legacy to the future Bexley.
By 1878, the neighborhood consisted of a few farm houses, the school, the small university and a growing number of permanent residents. In 1880, the first church, The Christ Lutheran Church, organized by the university, was constructed on teh northeast corner of what is now Main Street and Drexel Avenue.
In 1875, a two-room red brick schoolhouse was built on Pleasant Ridge Avenue near Main Street for the benefit of the farm children in the area, and just one year later Capital University moved from Columbus to its present campus site. Urbanization had begun.