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Worthington, Ohio: Little Known Historical Facts

Worthington, Ohio is a small town with big dreams. It’s one of the fastest-growing communities in the state and it has some pretty intriguing history for such a small town. Let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about Worthington:

1) The first settlers arrived on April 12th, 1803, and built their cabin on what is now the corner of Main Street and High Street (which was then called North Point), which would eventually become downtown.

2) Worthington is home to the first free public library in Ohio. The library was opened on December 7th, 1853 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as a gift to the community he grew up in. 

3) In September 1886, Ike Harshbarger found gold while panning in Clear Creek near his home just outside of Worthington. This discovery led to an influx of miners searching for gold. All that is left today are two crystal clear ponds that were formed by miners attempting to recreate Harshbarger’s discovery.

4) In 1918, famed aircraft manufacturer John North Willys began building a factory outside of town that would eventually become home to the Willys-Overland Motor Company.

5) In 1964, the National Cash Register building on North Broadway was home to what was considered the largest computer in the world.

6) The very first Taco Bell was opened on September 23rd, 1962 in a newly-built strip mall near the intersection of West Broad Street and Wilson Road and it is home to one of 60 public Coca-Cola bottling plants in America, which produces bottled Coca-Cola products for distribution throughout central Ohio.

7) Outside of town sits 5400 acres Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, which is Ohio’s oldest state park and has been designated as a “State Nature Preserve”

8) Alvin G. Brush created “The History of the State of Ohio,” a series of large paintings depicting all 88 counties at this time. The History was displayed to great acclaim from 1893-1901. In 1905, He donated them to the state along with $3000 in funding for their proper maintenance. Now it was displayed at the Ohio History Connection in downtown Columbus.

9) Worthington was once home to a thriving Chinatown. The first Chinese immigrants arrived on October 18t,h 1872 when 17 men, women, and children settled along High Street between Gay and Long Streets (now North Broadway and Goodale Avenue) just south of The Tavern Restaurant.

10) In 1897, Worthington became one of the first cities in Ohio to have its own electric generating plant, which was located at the corner of High Street and Long Street (now North Broadway).

11) In 1845, Peter Wight opened a wagon shop on West Bridge Street that became one of the early industries in Worthington supplying wagons for both military use and farming needs throughout Central Ohio.

 12) Known as the “City of Beautiful Homes,” Worthington has been recognized five times by “Ohio Magazine” as part of its annual listing entitled Oasis: The Best Places to Live in Ohio.

 13) In 1891, the first electric trolley car made its way down High Street between Downtown and the Ohio State University campus at what is now Olentangy River Road operated by The Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric Company.

 14) One of Worthington’s most beloved landmarks is Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church located on South High Street. Built-in 1917, it serves as a testament to the influence that African-Americans have had on this community for over 160 years.

15) In 1835, the Worthington Academy was built on West Spring Street between South High Street and Rich Street. The first federal census in 1850 reported a total population of 1,148 living in 215 homes. 

16) For many years, Worthington was home to a woman named Lavinia Warren who became famous for her role in the film adaptation of “Titanic”. 

17) Worthington is one of the most historically rich towns in Central Ohio and can boast that it is home to 10 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Roy Thompson Hall located at 310 West 3rd Avenue. This historic theatre has played host to some of the world’s greatest musicians such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Benny Goodman, Isaac Stern, and The Three Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and José Carreras.

 18) Henry Worthington was one of Ohio’s most prominent engineers during the 19th century and his namesake city is a testament to his lasting legacy. In 1852, He co-founded The Columbus and Xenia Railroad which later became part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He designed the pump that is used in every locomotive today allowing trains to maintaining their speed uphill.

19) This past July, a17-foot tall bronze statue celebrating Worthington native and jazz legend John “Bucky” Pizzarelli was unveiled on West Goodale Street between South High Street and South Front Street just outside Jazz Central located at 2195 West Goodale Street. Pizzarelli is a seven-time Grammy Award winner and was the first person to receive both Grammy wins for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Worthington, Ohio is blessed with some of the state’s most amazing, must-see landmarks. Here’s a list of some of our favorites:

  • Jeffers Mound
  • Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington
  • Griswold Center
  • Orange Johnson House
  • Walnut Grove Cemetery
  • The Old Rectory
  • The Ohio Railway Museum
  • McConnell Arts Center
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium 

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our central location at 65 East Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington! Stop by for a visit anytime!

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