Following the First World War, the 1920 United States Census stated the population of Bexley as just over 1,300 people. A decade later, it was over 5,000 qualifying the village to become a city in 1931. How did Bexley grow?
A simple answer is that it expanded from Alum Creek west to east between the railroad tracks to the north and Livingston Avenue to the south. There is much more that might be said that makes it much more interesting. The focus here limits the topic no further than the mid-20’s.
The early stage of Bexley’s beginning from a farming community to a village in 1908 was covered in more detail in an earlier article (see Bexley – A History: Beginnings). Before then, it did have a growing cluster of homes on College Avenue and Pleasant Ridge – around Capital University’s Lehmann Hall, completed in 1876. By 1880, the first Christ Lutheran Church, on the northwest corner of South Drexel and East Main, joined the embryonic community.
There was little commercial or community development before 1912 – other than the Marion Township two room Pleasant Ridge Elementary School. The school was open from 1875 to 1907 and was located just off of Main Street on the east side of Pleasant Ridge Avenue.
The Bullitt Park Elementary School was opened in 1907, a little to the west of College Avenue on the north side of Main Street. Known later as the Main Street Elementary School, it served Bexley until 1946.
In the empty lots east of the school, additional commercial buildings were occupied in 1912. One was E.D. Barnett’s barbershop, paired with a grocery that changed hands a few times by the 1920’s. The other was a similar sized building on the northeast corner of Drexel, occupied by Stukey’s Drug Store and shared with a grocery on the east side – which, again, changed hands frequently.
By the mid-20’s, the first three or four blocks of East Main Street, from Alum Creek eastward, were pretty well built – mostly on the north side of Main. The university campus was loated on the south side with Schenk Divinity Hall completed in 1923 – between Sheridan and College. There were still 31 residences scattered along Main, out to Gould. By the early twenties, Bexley’s first auto shop, Petty’s Garage, was just west of the village office (Bexley’s first municipal building) completed in 1924. Roy Wentz bought out Stukey’s in 1923 and occupied the whole building by the mid-30’s.
The lot next door to Wentz’s became the Pure Oil gasoline station in 1925, with the new Christ Lutheran Church sanctuary completed east of it – about two years earlier. Across from Christ Lutheran were four houses – one of which was the residence of the president of Capital University, Otto Mees. The Standard Oil Company of Ohio, SOHIO, had a gasoline station on the southwest corner of Main and Pleasant Ridge by 1923, making it one of the first in Bexley. Other storefronts and gasoline stations began to replace the open fields and remaining houses by the late 20’s and early 30’s further east, up to Bexley High School (now Montrose Elementary) that had been completed in 1922.
There was also a budding real estate development just east of Alum Creek, extending north of East Main, across East Broad Street, nearly to the railroad tracks. A plat was laid out as early as 1891 by a Philadelphia developer, John Bullitt. That Bullitt Park Addition plat provided the dimensions for the acreage for the early mansions built on North and South Parkview, Columbia and Drexel Avenues – beginning in the late 1890’s. Other developers sectioned off adjacent farmland, which they then sold to builders – such as C.F. Hansberger of Hansberger, Marion, Berry and Company; Petzinger and Schleppi; or L.L. LeVeque Co. These sections had their own names such as the Ardmore addition, the Bexley Park addition, etc.
Bexley in the twenties, with its terrific growth, must have been a bonanza for developers, builders, realtors and insurance agencies, among others. A reading of mid-decade residential directories revealed these statistics:
- South of East Main Street, Sheridan Avenue had 33 properties, ranging in house number from 565, at Main, to 940, near Livingston.
- College Avenue was pretty well built up with 63 houses, from 595, on the southwest corner across from the university, to 989, at the northwest corner of Livingston.
- Pleasant Ridge had 34 properties, beginning with 612, across from the university, south to 852.
- Francis Avenue came later – so moving east comes to Euclaire Avenue with 78 houses, ranging from 627 south to 896.
- South Cassingham had 42 singles, beginning at Main Street with 654 south to 968.
- Montrose had 31 houses ranging from 614, beginning on the west side across from what then was Bexley High School, to 931.
- South Remington, beginning on the east side of the school grounds had 26 houses, numbering from 654 south to 968.
- Vernon Avenue had 20 single family dwellings form 697 to 1001.
- South Roosevelt, 15, ranging from 679 to 894.
- Grandon, 7, from 697 to 1001.
- Chelsea, 8 houses, from 711 to 960.
- Mound Street running west to east, had 11 houses, from 2255 to 2391.
- Havenwood Drive South, three houses, 2391 to 2411.
- Charles Street, one house – 2395.
Central Bexley – between East Main and East Broad, presents somewhat the same pattern as South Bexley with its own unique twists. Housing moved east from Drexel Avenue (except for Bryden that began at South Parkview) with the eastern limit for the streets at Remington – except for those streets north of Cassingham Elementary School (completed in 1927) extending to South Stanwood Road.
- Sherwood Road, by 1926, 47 single family homes – numbering from 2302 east to 2590.
- Bryden had 69 houses, ranging from 2173 to 2596.
- Bexley Park, 47 houses from 2321 to 2629.
- Brentwood, 52 dwellings from 2333 to 2618.
- Fair, 31, from 2357 to 2617.
Dawson Avenue, parallel to South Drexel, but one block east, provides the base line for a few streets that are only a block long to Cassady Avenue:
- Plymouth Avenue is the first running parallel north of Fair. In the mid-twenties it had 16 single-family homes ranging in house numbers from 2409 to 2467.
- Continuing north, Dale Avenue had seven houses from 2434-2463.
- Elm Street had 8, ranging from 2431 to 2468.
- Seneca Park Place, 13 houses, from 2447 to 2492.
- Powell Avenue, east to Gould, 20 houses from 2453 to 2854.
- Bexford Place, 11, from 2461 to 2508.
Looking at the north/south streets in Central Bexley begins from the western extremity:
- Westland Avenue with three houses with numbers 320 to 379.
- S Parkview with 56 houses numbering from 39, off East Broad, to 508, at East Main Street.
- S Columbia, 34 single dwellings ranging from 55 south to 446.
- S Drexel Avenue, 31, from 75 to 530 near East Main Street.
- Dawson, from East Broad south to Fair Avenue, 36 houses from 35 south to 325.
- Bullitt Park Place, from East Broad south to Bexford Place, 20 houses from 22 to 99.
- S Cassady had 30 house numbers between East Broad and Fair, from 38 south to 332.
- S Ardmore to Fair, 61 homes – 36 to 339.
- S Cassingham to Fair, 22 houses, 34 to 341.
- S Remington to Elm Street, 61 – 33 to 339.
- S Stanwood to Fair, two houses, 74 and 77.
- Hartley Road (S Roosevelt after 1932), one house, 215.
North Bexley had a some early mansions beginning on N Parkview – such as the Jeffrey Mansion, completed in 1905; the Deshler Mansion, in 1912; and the Huggins Mansion in 1913.
Other venturous types continued to build estates on expanded acreage in north Bexley during the first two decades of the 1900’s – some still standing – as was done on S Parkview, Columbia and Drexel. By the mid-twenties:
- There were 20 houses on East Broad Street – from St. Charles College at 2010 to 2941.
- Three homes on Meadow Park Avenue, just east of St Charles, numbering 44 to 58.
- Thirty-four dwellings N Parkview, ranging in numbers 15 to 506.
- Eight on N Columbia from 63 to 499.
- N Drexel had 18 houses from 80 to 324.
- Fifteen on Stanbery from 55 to 476.
- One house on Ashbourne, 170.
- North Walnut (Northview after 1928) had 1 house – 515.
- N Cassady had 12 houses – 36 to 264.
- Thirty houses on N Ardmore from 30 to 293.
- N Cassingham also had 30 houses, from 33 to 303.
- Bratenahl Avenue (N Roosevelt after 1932) had 2 houses, 111 and 352.
The cross streets going east to west included:
- Commonwealth Avenue North
- Maryland Avenue
- Columbus Avenue
- Bellwood Avenue
- Allegheny Avenue
With few of us here in the mid-twenties of the 20th century, this summary of how Bexley grew fills in a few more gaps of our vision. The biographical and pictorial files of the Bexley Historical Society, available for your perusal, cover some of the topics mentioned in this article. The Historical Society, in conjunction with the Bexley Public Library, is developing an online resource of the addresses and houses of many of the early businesses and residents in Bexley. We appreciate receiving copies of any early pictures, genealogies, or writings related to the Bexley community or its family life.
Adapted from article By Edward L. Hamblin
Bexley Historical Society President, 1997-2002
Originally published in Historical Herald, June 2005
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Archives of the Bexley Historical Society
R.L. Polk & Co., Columbus City Directors; 1912, 1919, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932
The New Bexley Directory-August 23, 1927, Village of Bexley – available at Bexley Historical Society
1920 United States Census