German Village is a portrait of the Columbus neighborhood that German immigrants built and twentieth-century visionaries restored.
The documentary examines the history of Germans in Columbus, the distinctive Italianate and Queen Anne architecture of the neighborhood, the community’s devotion to its signature brick streets; and recognizes the pioneers of the German Village restoration effort. With 233 acres on the National Register of Historic Places, German Village is nationally recognized as a model preservation project.
Immigration and the National Road
Early German immigrants to Columbus purchased cheap land to the south of the city limits and established a community there. Significant numbers began to arrive around 1840 and by 1865 one-third of the city’s population was German.
Music in the Air
The Germans brought music—small brass bands that would develop later into military-style marching bands. In late 1848, 12 men came together and formed the Columbus Maennerchor to sing and enjoy the tunes of the old country.
Churches and Schools of the Village
The Germans built a number of churches—some Lutheran and some Catholic. German immigrants also established and managed many schools including a kindergarten and Capital University.
Germans in the Civil War
When the Civil War came, the largest ethnic group to serve for the Union was German-born Americans. Their service was an opportunity to show patriotism and loyalty to their adopted county.
Old Brewery District
Louis Hoster became one of the first brewers in Columbus in 1834. He founded the brewery at a dip in Front Street—a ravine from which an artesian well came and flowed down to the Scioto River.
German Village in the Late 1800s
By the late 1800s, there were three distinct areas of German Village: the Brewery District Central Market and a new hotel—the Great Southern.
Schiller Park and Recreation Park
Schiller Park was named after the German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller. It was originally known as Stewart’s Grove. Stewart sold the land to the Deshler-Thurman family in 1861 with the stipulation that it become a city public park.
The Electrified Street Car
The electrified street car came in the 1890s and transformed American cities—giving rise to new neighborhoods usually located a mile or two away from the downtown.
View: Video Segment | Lesson Plan
Prohibition and World War I
After the United States got into World War I, Congress passed a law forbidding brewing, ostensibly as a war conservation measure. All breweries were shut down in 1917.
Urban Decline, Urban Renewal
In the late 1950s, the old south end fell into decline. Many residents left the area lured by newer housing. The construction of Interstate 70 through downtown Columbus spurred a restoration movement beginning with the purchase, in 1959, and the renovation of a Dutch Double by Frank Fetch.
German Village Map
Take a look at a map of the German Village neighborhood. View Map