Traveling south on College Avenue – beyond Livingston Avenue – still feels like the beginnings of a drive into the countryside.
In the mid-late 1880’s, the property at East Livingston Avenue and College Avenue (then Columbus-Winchester Pike) was clearly out in the country when Emil Ambos acquired 116 acres which included “Spring Lakes” – two small lakes that the Pike crossed. Appropriately, the creek that was dammed to create these two lakes was named “Bliss Run”.
Peter Ambos, Emil’s father, did well in the confectionery business – while Emil graduated to the liquor business which was also very successful (perhaps too much so, since Emil died in 1898 at the age of 53 of a liver condition).
Retiring at the age of 39, Emil put his full energies into his pastoral pursuits – developing a country fishing and boating retreat for his friends. His most avid pleasure was fishing and his famous grave marker, in Greenlawn Cemetery, is cast in his favorite pose as a fisherman – including pole and bait bucket.
Emil lived in downtown Columbus and would often take his neighbors and city children on the two-hour carriage ride to his “park”, which also included ponies, cows, chickens, peacocks and a parrot.
When Ambos died in 1898, his seventeen page will – among other more unusual requests – stipulated that 30 acres (including the Silver Lakes) would be given to the City of Columbus for a park.
After much discussion, the City Council initially refused the gift – but then the Council had had a change of heart and wished to reconsider the offer. One of the councilmen hired a medium to try to communicate with Ambos in the “Great Beyond” to see if he was still willing to donate the land to the City. The medium reported back that Ambos was angry and called the councilmen “short skates”, and so the insulted council members voted against the donation.
(One cannot make this story more fantastical than that!)
The property was then sold and reverted back to farming until 1932 when the Berwick Construction Company started a new housing development and The Berwick Golf Course was built. The golf course operated for twenty years, but then, in 1955, nine holes of the golf course were converted to housing. Soon thereafter, the remainder of the course was closed to allow for additional development.
The two spring lakes still remain. The next time you drive southeast on US Rte 33, passing the two lakes, you can imagine seeing Emil Ambos contentedly sitting on the small island with a fishing pole in his hands.
Learn more about this wonderfully eccentric, and much beloved, Columbus native at Columbus Underground: Emil Ambos
Written by Lawrence Helman, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
Edited by Martina Campoamor, Bexley Historical Society Trustee
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