In 2012, volunteers for the German Village Society continued in earnest a collection of oral histories from residents with long-standing ties to the community. With a generous grant from the Ohio Humanities Council and more recent support from Villager Tom Grote, we have collected about three-dozen on-camera interviews so far, and the project continues. Each of the roughly 30- to 45-minute sessions is digitized and securely stored for future generations to enjoy. You can view them on our YouTube Channel.
Each week, Neighbors for Neighbors features a short excerpt from one of those interviews. Afterward, these “Oral History Spotlights” are indexed and made available here at GermanVillage.com.
59 Years Of Haus und Garten Tour
German Village Society members have been creating annual home tours since 1960. Take a look back.
December 2017 – Charles Kramer
Columbus resident Charles Kramer just turned 91. And what he remembers about living in German Village – long before it was called that – will amaze you.
November 2017 – Sue Doody
For more than 35 years, Lindey’s has been a beacon of fine dining in German Village. In today’s Oral History Spotlight, Owner Sue Doody tells us how she came to open this iconic restaurant.
German Village Society Annual Meeting – Franklin Art Glass Studios
October 2017 – Frank Wickham
Frank Wickham is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about St. Mary’s Catholic Church. So, we were thrilled when he agreed to sit for an oral history recording. But it’s the story he told about meeting his wife that left us smiling long after the interview was over.
Frank’s full Oral History of German Village.
September 2017 – Gerta Wolfram & Harold Davis
Harold Davis and his wife Gerta grew up in and around German Village in the 1950s and ‘60s. Like most of their neighbors, they didn’t have much money. But moving here was especially hard for 8-year-old Gerta, who came here not speaking a word of English. John Clark recently interviewed the couple at their home on Mithoff Street, in Merion Village.
August 2017 – Special Edition ‘Corn Crib House’
This week’s Oral History Spotlight is actually a 4-1/2-minute “mini-documentary” about the house on West Columbus Street that used to be a corn crib. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most unusual houses on the South Side. When it was built, about a hundred years ago, it served an entirely different purpose. In this month’s Oral Spotlight Special, John Clark traces its fascinating history.
July 2017 – Chris Hune
In the world of historic preservation, “adaptive reuse” means taking an old building and giving it a new purpose. Take, for example, the old corner market on Beck Street that’s now a modern home with swimming pool.
For the full, 35-minute conversation with Chris, just follow this link.
June 2017 – Mike Wolf
John Clark recorded this month’s oral history at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, in Merion Village. Mike Wolf was a member of the St. Leo’s parish until it closed in 1999. Since then, he has assumed the role of church caretaker, restoring practically every square inch of the 115-year-old building by himself. The latter part of the full, hour-long conversation with Mike centers on his efforts to save a church that no longer has a congregation.
Listen to the full version of Mike’s conversation here.
May 2017 – Sid Druen
Sid and Janet Druen bought their Deshler Avenue home in 1975. It had been in the same family since it was built, about 1895, and needed a lot of modernizing. Surprisingly, the old home had been built with one luxury we no longer have. John Clark recently sat down with Sid, as part of the Society’s continuing oral history project. Here’s what Sid had to say about the bygone luxury.
The full oral history interview with Sid Druen runs about 45 minutes. You can watch it in its entirety by clicking here.
April 2017 – Phyllis Duryee
Phyllis and Hal Duryee moved to German Village in the early days of the restoration movement. It was a time when a pioneering spirit and a good sense of humor kept most preservationists going. Hal Duryee passed away last June. Phyllis sat down with John Clark to talk about those earlier times.
Follow this link to watch the entire, 45-minute conversation with Phyllis Duryee.
March 2017 – Mike Shuter
Mike Shuter has lived in German Village since before there was a German Village. In the 1950s, he moved with his parents from a home on Ebner to a small, double cottage on South Third Street. Preferring to walk, Mike never learned to drive a car. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he knows the neighborhood so well. He recently sat down with John Clark to recall some memories of his early years in the Old South End.
Listen to the full version of Mike’s Oral History by clicking here!
February 2017 – Aggie Carpenter
Would you believe 50 kids were living in a one-block stretch of South Sixth Street? That’s just one of the many fond memories of German Village that Aggie Dorn Carpenter shared with us last month. Aggie is the subject of this month’s Oral History Spotlight.
You can hear – and see – John Clark’s complete conversation with Aggie by clicking here!
January 2017 – Julie Bango
Julie Bango is the subject of this week’s Oral History Spotlight. When she and her husband, John Saunders, bought their Kossuth Street cottage in 1996, they also acquired a second historic structure – one quite rare, even for German Village. Julie is the subject of today’s Oral History Spotlight.
You can watch the entire, 38-minute interview with Julie Bango by following this link.
November 1 – German Village Innovators
We are proud to premiere “Innovators of German Village” at Sunday’s annual meeting of the German Village Society. This 11-minute documentary examines the importance of Columbus’ gay community in the revitalization of our neighborhood.
A full documentary will be released during our Annual Meeting to thank donors on Sunday, November 6 at The Kitchen.
October 25 – Jay Panzer
New York native Jay Panzer came to Columbus to work on large restoration projects at the Ohio and Southern Theatres. It didn’t take long for him to discover German Village, and he has been here ever since – serving now as the head of the German Village Commission. Jay spoke with interviewer Bill Case three years ago. And we feature him today, in our weekly Oral History Spotlight.
Jay has been a dedicated neighbor and community member for years. Listen to his full story!
October 18 – Janet Druen
What started as an informal babysitting co-op more than 30 years ago grew into an organization that completely transformed German Village’s favorite destination. In today’s Oral History Spotlight, Janet Druen talks about the early days of the Friends of Schiller Park.
Janet’s full Oral History can be found here if you have 20 minutes to spare.
October 11 – Mike Rosen
Mike Rosen has never lived in German Village. He’s never operated a business here, either. But he knows more about our homes and businesses than just about anyone else. That’s because he was a dedicated member of the German Village Commission for 36 years, and most of that time as Commission Chairman. Mike Rosen is the subject of today’s Oral History Spotlight.
With 36 years of Commission service, there’s much more to Mike’s Oral History! Full version here.
October 4 – Russ Arledge Pt. 2
With today’s modern conveniences, we hardly stop to think about a lot of life’s little pleasantries – like home heating, or even ice. In today’s Oral History Spotlight, lifetime Villager Russ Arledge recalls the 1950s, when you took neither for granted.
Russ grew up in German Village. Let him tell you all about it in his full version here!
September 27 – Richard Eiselt
If the name Dick Eiselt doesn’t ring a bell, you would be forgiven. After all, this noted Columbus architect retired 35 years ago. But you should know he played vital roles in the early years of the German Village restoration movement. He’s a charter member of the Society; he helped write the legislation that created the German Village Commission; and he served on the very first commission, more than 50 years ago. Dick is the subject of this week’s Oral History Spotlight.
Listen to the full, 20-minute version here.
September 20 – Dorothy Fischer
Dorothy Fischer was a scholar, librarian, award-winning poet, war protester and a life-long preservationist. She moved to our neighborhood in 1952, and eight years later helped Frank Fetch and others form the German Village Society.
Dorothy recalled those early days during an oral history interview in February 2000 – full version here.
September 13 – Russ Arledge
Those of us who’ve grown up with Giant Eagle, Kroger and other large supermarkets may find it hard to believe what shopping was like before the big chains came along. But it wasn’t all that long ago that grocery shopping for the family was an entirely different experience. In this week’s Oral History Spotlight, lifelong German Villager Russ Arledge discusses neighborhood shopping here in the 1950s.
Hear Russ’ full Oral History by clicking here.
September 6 – Larry Schaffer
For a lot of German Villagers, a single historic house restoration can seem a bit overwhelming. What if you had to do dozens? For real estate developer and manager Larry Schaffer, it was just part of the job. This week’s Oral History Spotlight shines on the late Larry Schaffer, who also served on the German Village Commission in the mid-1960s and served as its chair in 1965.
Larry has much more to share and you can hear his full Oral History by clicking here.
August 30 – Klaus Gauer
Klaus Gauer was born and raised in a small village in Germany. Later, he would emigrate to Canada, meet his future wife, trade his engineering career for one in contracting and move to the German Village we all know and love. Klaus Gauer is the focus of this week’s Oral History Spotlight.
View Klaus’ full 15-minute Oral History by clicking here.
August 23 – Bill Lenkey pt. 2
In last week’s Oral History Spotlight, charter member Bill Lenkey reminisced about moving into our neighborhood two years before it was designated a protected historic district. This week, Bill tells us about taking part in the very first German Village Haus und Garten Tour, in June 1960.
August 16 – Bill Lenkey
When Bill Lenkey and partner David Earley moved to the corner of City Park and Concord in 1958, the German Village Historic District was but a dream. Little did they know that their neighborhood would become famous. Without knowing it, Bill and David also helped lay the foundation for what would become a progressive and inclusive attitude toward gays in the neighborhood. Bill spoke in 2010 with Society members John and Jan Clark, who were collecting interviews for the German Village Society’s 50th anniversary.
You can see more of Bill Lenkey’s interview here. Or wait until next week, when he reminisces about his role in the very first Haus und Garten Tour.
August 9 – Elnora & Frank Fetch
In spearheading the German Village preservation movement in 1960, Frank Fetch had plenty of help – including that of his wife and stepfather Harry Royse. Forty years ago, Elnora and Frank Fetch were asked to recall an incident that helped kick-start their efforts. The Fetches are the subject of this week’s Oral History Spotlight.
August 2 – Jenny Corotis-Barnes
Before 1960, our neighborhood and its immediate surroundings were referred to as the “South Side” or the “Old South End.” The name, “German Village” wasn’t coined until late 1959. In today’s Oral History Spotlight, former Villager Jenny Corotis Barnes tells us about the contribution of her late father, insurance company owner Bob Corotis.
July 26 – Brick Street Repairs (Beck Street)
A few of German Village’s bumpier brick streets are being made smoother, thanks to City of Columbus work crews and money from the city’s capital fund. Maintaining our historic streets has been a big concern of Villagers, going back more than 30 years. Brick street repair is the subject of this week’s Oral History Spotlight.
The preceding interviews were taken from a 2014 video, produced to commemorate the many contributions to German Village from the late Fred Holdridge and Howard Burns. Click here to view the entire, 10-minute video.
July 19 – Steve Shellabarger
German Village owes much of its present-day success to the urban pioneers who took a chance on these old homes back in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Their initial work proved that this could be a viable, modern neighborhood. Steve Shellabarger represented a second wave of home restorationists, many of whom might not have been welcome in other neighborhoods. Here is Steve’s story…
German Village is sometimes referred to as an LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood. Interestingly, as Steve Shellabarger says, that’s been the case since the very beginning of the restoration movement of the 1960s – here his full Oral History here!
July 12 – Bill Hugus
We shine today’s Oral History Spotlight on a prominent German Villager who was born in Findlay, Ohio, educated in Ohio, Kentucky and Italy. He planted his roots here with us more than 30 years ago. Listen as architect Bill Hugus tells how he discovered German Village.
In his 33 years here, Bill Hugus estimates he has drawn renovation plans for more than 300 German Village homes. Discover his full Oral History here!
June 28 – Virginia Welch
Virginia Welch began her long and very successful real estate business in German Village 55 years ago. In 2013, she sat down with our Bill Case to discuss her career, and to reflect on some of her favorite properties here.
June 21 – David Schooler
One of German Village’s biggest supporters was born and raised in Coshocton; spent three years with the Peace Corps, helping coffee growers in South America; and finally made his way here, 45 years ago, to work in a bank. Give up? Today’s Oral History Spotlight shines on David Schooler.
Also the owner of Town & Country Travel on Lazelle St., David has more to say beyond this clip – you can listen here!
June 14 – Jerry Esselstein
In less than two weeks, German Village will welcome thousands of visitors to our annual Haus und Garten Tour presented by Vutech | Ruff, HER Realtors. Part of our mission at the German Village Society is to greet visitors year-round, and to help inspire them with our preservation success story. One of our biggest boosters is third-generation Villager Jerry Esselstein, This week’s Oral History Spotlight shines on Jerry.
Jerry is very proud to call himself a Villager, so if you have some more time – listen to his 25-miunte Oral History here.
June 7 – Terri Dickey
The German Village Haus und Garten Tour dates back to June 1960. Leaders of the fledgling German Village Society came up with the idea as a way to show off their restoration efforts here, and to encourage others to invest in the neighborhood. Pre-Tour came along several years later. Its primary goal was fundraising and just plain, old fun. This year’s PreTour Co-Chair Terri Dickey explains, in this week’s Oral History Spotlight.
If you have more time, let Terri break down even further for you in the full version here.
May 31 – Sandy Kight
The year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Sandy Kight’s move to German Village. The Society was barely six years old then. And the neighborhood was just beginning to attract professionals like Sandy, a young single woman who taught art in Columbus public schools. Once here, these new residents forged close relationships through their volunteer activities and their desire to develop a true, community spirit. Today’s oral history spotlight shines on Sandy Kight, who spoke with Mary Yarbrough in December 2012.
You can listen to the full version of Sandy’s Oral History here.
May 24 – Judy Kitchen
Judy Kitchen has lived in German Village almost 40 years. During that time she has left her mark on our community by devoting countless hours to the German Village Commission. Three years ago, Judy sat down with Bill Case to discuss the Commission’s difficult task.
To watch the full version of Judy’s German Village Oral History on Third Street, please click here.
May 17 – Jeff McNealey
Few people have had their finger on the pulse of German Village and the German Village Society more than Jeff McNealey. He is a long-time attorney, long-time Villager, and has dedicated many, many years of service to the Society’s Board of Directors. Bill Case sat down with Jeff two years ago, to get his unique perspective on the Village, and on problem solving in a historic, urban community such as ours. Our Oral History Spotlight shines this week on Jeff McNealey!
All those years of dedicated service come with a wealth of knowledge on German Village. Hear the full story here.
May 10 – Joan Wobst
An important piece of Schiller Park history disappeared in the 1950s, never to be seen again. It was the original Umbrella Girl statue – actually a small garden sculpture of the Greek goddess Hebe, the “cup bearer.” She sat in a basin near the current Caretaker’s Cottage, bearing tin cups from which to drink water that flowed over an umbrella that had been attached to her right arm. Forty years later, Bert Stevens approached local sculptor Joan Wobst about creating a new Umbrella Girl, and she immediately took up the cause. In the fall of 2012, Bill Case spoke with Joan and her daughter, Andi, who served as her mother’s model. Both are featured in today’s Oral History Spotlight.
If you can spare another 20 minutes, Joan and Andi have more to share on this iconic piece of German Village history – full version here.
May 3 – Scot Dewhirst
The German Village Commission is at the heart of preservation efforts in German Village. It oversees requests for changes to building exteriors from paint colors to full-blown additions. Attorney Scot Dewhirst was a long-standing member of the Commission during many of its formative years. In this week’s Oral History Spotlight, Scot talks with Bill Case about efforts to make the Commission process more “user friendly” for German Village home and business owners.
To see the full version of Scot’s Oral History of German Village, click here.
April 26 – Heidi Harendza
For three years, German Village resident Heidi Harendza was an assistant historic preservation officer with the City of Columbus. Three years ago, Heidi sat down with Mary Yarbrough to talk about the challenges and the rewards of working with people who are passionate about their neighborhood. Hear what a historic preservation expert has to say about her favorite neighborhood.
Heidi has a unique perspective on how our neighborhood keeps its charm. Learn more right here!
April 19 – Eleanor Noltemeyer
When Eleanor Noltemeyer passed away last spring, she was just days shy of her 96th birthday. Few people have witnessed as much South Side history as Eleanor, who lived for almost a century in the place we now call German Village. In September 2012, Eleanor sat down with Bill Case to share memories of things most of us have only read about. So, just what was it like to be a kid here in the 1920s? Eleanor Noltemeyer is the subject of today’s two-minute Oral History spotlight.
Eleanor has a lifetime of memories to share! Click here for the full version of her story.
April 12 – Connie Swain
The next time you run into Connie Swain, Janet Druen or Elspeth Willoughby, you may want to say, “Thank you.” What they did as young mothers more than 30 years ago defied odds. They started painting broken down playground equipment and wound up leading a drive that raised a half-million dollars in donations for improvements to Schiller Park. Connie Swain spoke with Bill Case in 2012 about the role these women played in making Schiller Park great.
Connie has lived here for a while and has so much to share on where the community has come from! Have a listen to the full length version here.
April 5 – Pat Phillips
Pat Phillips is a long-time German Village resident, a realtor, a volunteer tour guide and more. Today, we hear from Pat Phillips, the storyteller. With baseball season getting under way, we thought it would be a good time to let Pat tell us the story of one South Side baseball player who changed the sport forever. As part of our ongoing oral history project, Pat spoke with Bill Case in the fall of 2013. Here is this week’s two-minute Oral History Spotlight.
March 29 – Bert Stevens
Flowers in the Village are beginning to bloom. And, of course, that means one thing: Huntington Garden will soon become one of the neighborhood’s most-photographed spots for the 24th year in a row. Carole Genshaft sat down with Bert Stevens in 2013 to hear the story of how this amazing garden grows.
Bert has been a dedicated Villager for years, especially when it comes to the Haus und Garten Tour. Check out her full Oral History here.
March 22 – Robin Freeman
March Madness is upon us. So this week, we focus our Oral History spotlight on the late Robin Freeman. Freeman, a long-time Villager who died a year and a half ago, set Ohio State basketball records that have never been matched. Robin spoke with our Bill Case in December 2012.
Robin wasn’t just known for his basketball triumphs. He was an accomplished lawyer and a very supportive neighbor. Listen to his full story here.
March 15 – Jerry Glick
We put the late Jerry Glick in this week’s two-minute Oral History Spotlight. You may be surprised to hear how he used to talk about something that became his pride and joy. Click here for the full version of Jerry’s Oral History.
March 8 – Ann Lilly
In our latest 2-Minute Oral History Spotlight, long-time Villager Ann Lilly discusses her neighborhood’s less-than-desirable conditions . And she comments on the community spirit that helped start what became a highly successful historic preservation district. Ann spoke with Mary Yarbrough in October 2012.
This is just a sneak peek at our dear friend and neighbor Ann Lilly, but this lady is just full great neighborhood stories! If you have some time to view bits of the full 45-minute version, click here.
March 1 – Barb & Ed Elberfeld
In the fall of 2013, Bill Case interviewed Ed and Barb Elberfeld as part of the Society’s ongoing oral history project. We put Ed and Barb in today’s 2-Minute Oral History Spotlight. They talk about that move, more than 40 years ago, and the eerie incident that helped lead them to their new home.
Next week, we will feature neighbor Ann Lilly as she comments on the community spirit that helped start what became a highly successful historic preservation district! Stay tuned…