Meet the Team That Put the Worthington Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places
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By Nicholas Dekker

It’s easy to take for granted that Old Worthington is an historic district.

Residents and regular visitors are used to its architecture, historical buildings, and the plaques and markers lining the neighborhood. But it takes a lot of work to get a neighborhood, building, or site listed on the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.

Fortunately, the hard work of three Old Worthington Association board members – Greg Browning, Emily Baker, and Jim Ventresca – helped secure historic status for the district. Take a look at the work involved to make it happen! 

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Nick: What is your involvement in establishing the Worthington Historic District?
In 1999, a joint effort began by the Old Worthington Association (OWA) and the Worthington Historical Society to work with the City of Worthington and other local stakeholders to do the research necessary to complete an application for the Worthington Historic District – bordered by Morning Street, Evening Street, North Street, and South Street – to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jim Ventresca, who was a member of both of these local groups, was selected as the chairman of the group, which was formally known as the Worthington Historic District Committee.

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Nick: What was the impetus behind creating the district?
The primary impetus behind the creation of the district was threefold:

  1. Awareness that Worthington’s 2003 bicentennial was approaching and that it was thus a particularly important time to honor and celebrate Worthington’s past

  2. National recognition would help preserve local history, which has been and continues to be a central community characteristic that helps give Worthington its unique identity

  3. Placement on the National Register would be important in keeping the past alive in the present and relevant to contemporary decision-making

Nick: What were the steps you had to take to get the district established? How long did it take and what were the biggest challenges?
The process of gaining placement on the National Register is significant. A great deal of research was required in documenting Worthington’s history, including the significance of buildings and architecture within the historic district.

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For instance, reference was made to houses that were part of the Underground Railroad that helped enslaved people escape to freedom. Old Worthington also has a house that used to be the home of President Woodrow Wilson’s grandfather, who was a Presbyterian minister in Worthington. Additionally, on High Street in Old Worthington is the first commercial building in all of Franklin County. And it’s still in use as a business today.

The entire process took over 10 years. The steps ran from initial organizational efforts to working with historical consultants hired by the City of Worthington to winning the support of Ohio’s historic preservation office, which is part of the Ohio History Connection, to final approval by the U.S. Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Interior. A brief summary of this process can be found on the historic marker located on the southeast quadrant of Worthington’s historic village green. 

Nick: When was the district finally established and what has that meant to you and the community?
The 2010 designation is a significant and ongoing reminder that Worthington’s history is unique and nationally important and that it should be passed on from generation to generation. Small, positive steps have been taken to build on the designation. For instance, there are now street signs in Old Worthington that mention that these streets are in the “historic district.”

But much more can and should be done to keep our history alive and relevant as Worthington makes future decisions. The district is at the heart of our local identity, but it’s much more than 19th century homes and commercial structures. It goes to community values and character. As such, the Worthington Historic District remains vitally important to our future, including how we make development and preservation decisions.

Thanks to Greg, Emily, Jim, and all the members of the Old Worthington Association for their work in preserving our historic city center!

Learn more about the Old Worthington Association at oldworthington.org

Learn more about the Worthington Historical Society at worthingtonhistory.org

Nicholas Dekker
The New Sustainability Committee
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We are excited to announce the new Sustainability Committee, as part of the Old Worthington Partnership. Joanne Dole, board member and coordinator of the Sustainable Worthington Facebook page, is taking on this green mission, focused on addressing sustainability issues in our downtown.

"I have worked on several sustainability projects for our downtown through the Partnership, but creating this new committee was an attempt to recruit new ideas and energy to work on these issues,” Dole says.

Sara Gallaugher, Worthington resident, committee member, and owner of Worthington business Full Circle Source invited the committee and the Worthington community to tours she organized through SWACO and Rumpke. This allowed community members to get an up-close look at how Worthington’s recycling and trash are processed. They are already planning more trips in the future, so contact Sara to join future tours!

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The group is also launching their first community project - creating reusable bags for the Worthington Farmers Market vendors to use in place of plastic bags. Sara brought the project to the group after spending years shopping in the market with her own reusable bags.

"We’re really excited to be gathering the community to sew produce bags and hand them out at the Worthington Farmers Market for free,” says Gallaugher. “We gathered cotton fabric over the last three weeks, and we will be meeting in August to cut the fabric, iron, and sew bags. These bags will be around the size of 12”x 15” when complete. Thanks to all the wonderful people who donated fabric!”

This project was inspired by blogger and plastic-free advocate Anne-Marie Bonneau who lives in California, and has done this project for her local farmers market. Because plastic bags are not recyclable in curbside recycling bins, this effort works to reduce the amount of bags shoppers use.

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If you are interested in helping, you can join the group to help sew and cut fabric during the  August 17th, 2-4 p.m. and August 20th, 6-8 p.m. events at the Griswold Center. If you would like to help with this project, sign up here.

Those who would like to get involved in this event and the committee as a whole should email the committee or send a message through instagram @sustainableworthington to see their latest initiatives and needs. Their Facebook and Instagram pages also provide links to sign up for specific events and volunteer opportunities.

Beth Dekker
Sweet Treats in Worthington from A to Z
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By Nicholas Dekker

Worthington is a great place to be for many reasons, but it’s especially nice if you’ve got a sweet tooth! From donuts to cinnamon rolls, ice cream to cakes, here’s your A to Z guide to indulging your sweet tooth in Worthington.

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Cookie Dough Creamery
If you’ve ever loved sneaking a bite of cookie dough while baking cookies, then Cookie Dough Creamery is the place for you. Find it tucked into The Shops at Worthington Place. They make a selection of safe-to-eat cookie doughs, from Oreo to chocolate chip to seasonal specials, that you can mix with ice cream and top to your heart’s content.

Diamonds Ice Cream
Attached to the Tomatillos Mexican restaurant at Linworth Crossing, Diamonds serves a full menu of homemade ice creams and banana splits. But the real treat is the paletas, frozen popsicles made with all manner of fresh fruits, cookies, and candies. Browse through the colorful case to choose from the rotating flavors. 

Graeter’s Ice Cream
Graeter’s Old Worthington location has been a family favorite for decades. The classic ice cream parlor serves cups, cones, and other creations using their homemade French pot ice creams. Dig into the rotating seasonal flavors or rely on favorites like black raspberry chip, buckeye chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip. 

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Highline Coffee Co.
This newly expanded coffee shop in Old Worthington features locally made pastries to pair with cappuccinos, cold brew, and smoothies. You’ll find colorful pop tarts from Happy Little Treats and scones or cookies from The Flaky Baker. 

La Chatelaine
This French bistro and bakery is a long favorite for lounging on the patio in warmer days or cozying up by the fire during the winter. But of course the big draw is the beautiful breads and pastries filling the cases. It’s hard to pick a favorite from almond croissants, fruit tarts, cakes, eclairs, chocolate mousse, coconut macaroons. 

Mardi Gras Homemade Ice Cream
Located on Hard Road, Mardi Gras is a family-owned ice cream shop serving some of the most interesting flavors in the city. Owners Mita and Dilip Shah feature the usual suspects – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry – but your best bets are the globally inspired flavors, like guava, green tea, lychee, mango, ginger. One of their best sellers is called kesar pista: a blend of saffron, pistachio, cardamom, and almond. 

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The Market at Flint Station
This market, bar, and music venue is giving new life to a historic building. Amongst their market offerings, you’ll find plenty of local sweet treats: Jeni’s Ice Creams, Tupelo Doughnuts, fresh fruit, candies, and more.

Mrs. Goodman’s Baking Company
With a recent change in ownership, Mrs. Goodman’s is still going strong at feeding the community with gorgeous cakes and pies, scones and cinnamon rolls, donuts and cupcakes. For your next celebration, order a dozen artfully decorated cookies – they can customize the design to almost everything! 

Peace, Love, and Little Donuts
As you can imagine, you’ll find tiny donuts on the menu at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. This little Old Worthington shop fries up a base cake donut, and then let customers choose their own toppings. You can build your own or choose from house favorites like apple pie, blueberry pancake, M&M, maple bacon, and so many more.

Sassafras Bakery
Starting first as a popular vendor at the Worthington Farmers Market, Sassafras moved to its own storefront in 2013. Customers flock for beautiful pies, giant snickerdoodle cookies, huge brownies, gooey cinnamon rolls, kitchen sink granola bars, donut muffins, scones, and everything in-between. 

Soodles Bake Shop
The family-run Soodles Bake Shop is found in the Park Place Center off Route 23. Their recipes cater to those with allergy sensitivities. In addition to their breads, rolls, and pizza crusts, they produce pies, cakes, cookies, coffee cakes, brownies, and donuts.

Nicholas Dekker
Tracking the Trains in Worthington
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By Nicholas Dekker

Does anyone ever outgrow their love of trains? Who doesn’t get excited at the sight of big locomotives barreling down the track, or the low rumble of the train as it passes through?

Worthington has a long history of trains, as freight and passengers have traveled through the area for decades. The Worthington station used to sit on Proprietors Road, not far from the replica depot building that houses the Ohio Railway Museum. (Fun fact: did you know the center row of trees in Wilson Hill Park were planted along the interurban line that used to run through to High Street?)

But trains aren’t relegated to history! You can enjoy them in full-sized and small-scale forms right here in the city.

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Ohio Railway Museum
990 Proprietors Road

On Sunday afternoons between noon and 4 p.m., the Ohio Railway Museum comes alive with activity. Open from May through December, the museum houses a collection of locomotives, streetcars, interurban cars, and other artifacts. The volunteer-run organization was founded in 1948, and is situated on land that was originally part of the Columbus, Delaware, & Marion Electric Company property. Directly to the east are active freight lines, so while you enjoy a bit of living history, you’ll see modern day rail at work, too!

Guests can stroll along the train tracks and visit the various cars and engines in different states of restoration. Some are available for walk-through tours, others you can explore from the outside. The dedicated volunteers will tell you the full history of the equipment and the role it played in local, regional, and national rail history. The staff at the Ohio Railway Museum are actively restoring equipment, too; they’re current raising funds to restore the #703 streetcar, one of the last of its type that served Columbus.

And every visit should include a ride on the train! The museum alternates between featuring their #64 interurban car and their #5060 passenger coach, pulled by their #7178 engine, named Roger. Narrated by one of the volunteers, the ride takes you down the rails on the overpass above Route 161 and back again.

Admission to the Ohio Railway Museum is $9 for adults, $7 for children 4-12 years old, $8 for seniors/military, and free for children three and under. Ticket prices include the train rides.

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Central Ohio Model Railroad Club
6471 Proprietors Road

Located just north up Proprietors Road from the Railway Museum, the Central Ohio Railroad Club draws model railroad enthusiasts of all ages. They’re often out in the community with their displays; you can see them regularly at the Ohio State Fair. But their facility in Worthington serves as a home base. The building is home to layouts in HO, O, N, and Z scales. The club is also restoring a custom-made S scale circus layout, built over 35 years by Bernard J. Fleck of Tiffin, Ohio.

Regular guests are encouraged to become members, but Tuesdays and Thursdays the club is open to the public. Tuesday nights are the standard member nights, but the public is welcome from 7-10 p.m. Thursday evenings are open to youth and families from 6:30-9 p.m. The club even offers workshops and clinics on repairing trains, building and decorating structures, and more topics.

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McCord Park Caboose
333 E. Wilson Bridge Road

Anyone who’s spent time at McCord Park – maybe for a baseball game, helping at the community gardens, or visiting the Community Center – has heard the trains crossing at Wilson Bridge Road. Well, city officials have embraced the trains’ presence next to the park and are building an observation platform for kids of all ages to watch the trains.

To supplement this, the Harper family, part of the extended family behind Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home in Worthington, donated a wooden 1922 caboose from the their Upper Arlington backyard. The deep red caboose will be a centerpiece in the new observatory when McCord Park is upgraded in the coming years. The city is collaborating with the Worthington AM Rotary Club and the Central Ohio Model Railroad Club on the project.

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Nicholas Dekker
Tour Old Worthington with Columbus Food Adventures

There are few things lovelier than spending a day in Worthington, but it is made even better when you are with a knowledgeable tour guide, learning about the sights, sounds, and tastes that make Worthington wonderful. The Saturday Old Worthington Food Tour run by Columbus Food Adventures is a perfect way to learn about our city and why it is a delicious place to be.

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The food tour starts where any good tour would - at the award-winning Worthington Farmers Market! You will get to meet with several makers and farmers and taste their wares, from Honeyrun Farm to The Crazy Cucumber to Blue Jacket Cheese, Kokoborrego Cheese Company and Get Elevated. Afterwards, you will head into House Wine to continue sampling while you grab a glass of refreshing vino and learn more about why it is a must-stop for wine in the neighborhood. You’ll try goodies from Weed Knob Acres, Hummavore, North Country Charcuterie, and Blue Jacket Cheese.

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Then it’s on to momos at Everest Cuisine and a walk down to the historic Old Rectory, with stops along the way to learn the long history of the Worthington Inn and Snow House.

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After a look at and some background on the beautiful Mason Building on High street, you stop by La Chatelaine for a spread of their freshly made salads and pastries, and a little (more) dessert at Sassafras Bakery.

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On to a warm welcome at Igloo Letterpress, a retail and print shop that uses 100-year old printing presses. You will even get to try your hand at printing your very own coaster on a 1890’s pilot press! You will then head over to the Village Green to learn about the founding of Worthington in 1803 (and the sheep that used to graze on this very lawn!).

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The last stop is a delicious small plate at The Whitney House, a custard-like french toast with local bacon to end the tour on a sweet and savory note.

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To register for a spot on the tour, head to Columbus Food Adventures’ website. We’re looking forward to welcoming you soon!

Beth Dekker