BY JAN SWOOPE
What building in downtown Columbus used to house the Mother Goose Candy Co. and was the very first to have a second-floor apartment? Which one served, in the 1920s, as Gunter Brothers Funeral Parlor? What unlikely space was once a Ford auto dealership? Answers to those history-teasers and others can be unearthed during the Downtown Historic Walk Oct. 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Main Street Columbus and 17 participating downtown merchants present this First Thursday event to help celebrate the city’s 193rd birthday and to act as an early observance of Columbus Day.
First Thursdays are held the first Thursday of each month to highlight Columbus’ downtown historic district and provide shopping after traditional business hours as a convenience to the public. It often includes highlights such as an art walk, holiday themes, arts center exhibit receptions and now, a peek at the past.
“We try to do something different and unique on each First Thursday,” explained Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow. “You’ll be able to pick up a sheet with 17 questions at any of the participating businesses.” With help from merchants, match up answers to at least 10 of the questions to be eligible for a drawing that evening for a prize gift basket valued at at least $500. Each participating merchant contributed items for the prize. You must be present to win.
“Bring your completed fact sheet to Leadership Plaza at the corner of Fifth Street South and College Street at 7 p.m. or earlier,” explained Bigelow. “We’re going to have a birthday cake, with Mayor Robert Smith there to cut the cake and Mother Goose to lead the singing.” And don’t be surprised to see “Christopher Columbus” out and about during festivities, sharing stories of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria and his discovery of America.
Carolyn Burns Kaye, Gary Lancaster and Maurice Herriott are preparing interesting facts about downtown buildings, based on archived records.
“Most of the information dates in the 1900s,” said Kaye, a local historian who began some years ago creating a database of details from city directories, beginning with the 1906 edition. Lancaster has added some information from the late 1800s.
Kaye applauds the historic walk.
“It’s a good thing to know more about your hometown. And it’s interesting. It’s always been our theory that if we start something, it’s going to generate more ideas,” Kaye said, explaining that people hearing details about the past, whether on a walk like this or at events like the city’s Ghosts and Legends Tours, may have information to add to it. “You put out tidbits, and maybe you get more to come back to you.”
Main Street Columbus believes that local history is important and should be shared whenever the opportunity arises, said Bigelow.
“This will be a unique experience to have some fun while increasing your knowledge of downtown buildings,” she added.
For more information, contact Main Street Columbus at 662-328-6305.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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