Alfred Kelley mansion

Last updated
Alfred Kelley mansion
S front elevation - Alfred Kelley House.jpg
The mansion in 1958
Alfred Kelley mansion
Alfred Kelley mansion
The house and relocations of its remains
(coordinates are approximate)
General information
Architectural style Greek Revival
Address282 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio
Coordinates 39°57′49″N82°59′34″W / 39.963505°N 82.992693°W / 39.963505; -82.992693 Coordinates: 39°57′49″N82°59′34″W / 39.963505°N 82.992693°W / 39.963505; -82.992693
CompletedJune 1838
DemolishedSeptember 1961
Owner Alfred Kelley

The Alfred Kelley mansion was a historic house in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was the home of Alfred Kelley, built in 1838. The house stayed in the family for decades, and was later an Ohio governor's mansion, and further on, a Catholic school. It was abandoned in the 1950s, and was deconstructed in 1961 in order to build the Christopher Inn (extant from 1963 to 1988). A preservation committee tried to move and rebuild the house; after years and several moves, the stone remnants were placed at the Hale Farm and Village near Akron in 1973, where they remain today.



The Alfred Kelley house was a two-story house, measuring 65 feet (20 m) square and 40 feet (12 m) tall. [1]

It was built with a warm gray sandstone from Eastern Ohio, [1] designed in the Greek Revival style at the height of its popularity. It had a simple, symmetrical, and dignified design, presumably the work of Kelley himself. [2] [3] Its main portico, two stories in height, projected outward from the building. [1] The portico's pediment was topped with a stepped parapet, an unusual feature. [4] The other sides of the building each had recessed entrances, two stories in height, supported by two columns. [1] The building had ten columns in total, all of the Ionic order and each constructed from a single piece of stone, said to weigh 10,000 lbs. [2] [5]

Kelley's property, which cost him $917 in 1831, had 18 acres (7.3 ha), from Broad Street north to Long Street, and from Fifth Street east to Seventh Street (now Grant Avenue). The house fronted Broad Street, where his property spanned 918 ft (280 m). The property was deemed "Kelley's Folly" when purchased, as it was remote from most of Columbus at the time, and was mostly a wetland. [5] [3]


The house c. 1936-43 St. Josephs Cathedral School Photograph.png
The house c. 1936-43

The mansion was built from 1835 [1] or 1836 to 1838 for Alfred Kelley. [5] Kelley was a notable politician and lawyer, responsible for the Ohio and Erie Canal and Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad. [6] The house cost a reported $15,000 to construct, and involved transporting stone via flatboats. [2] The house was constructed on a property with plenty of marshland, so Kelley, a self-made engineer and architect, designed a drainage system there. This included a large vaulted tunnel from the house's cellar to Fifth Street. [5] The work may have delayed the house's construction, which began in 1836 and was completed in June 1838. [3]

At the time of construction, it was the most ornate house in the city, and built in the Greek Revival style at the height of its popularity. [4] The Columbus Dispatch called it the "first pretentious house built in Columbus". In June 1838, the Kelley family moved in; Kelley lived there until his death 21 years later. [6] During the Canal Fund financial crisis in 1842, Kelley pledged his property, including the mansion, to save Ohio from bankruptcy. [2] Until 1859, the house served numerous hospitality functions for state and local leaders. [4] Shortly before Kelley's death, he made several changes to the house, including the construction of ells at its rear. [3]

It served as the governor's mansion for James E. Campbell, from 1890 to 1892; meanwhile Kelley's widow and son maintained it until 1906. [5] The son, Alfred Kelley II, moved in with his wife in 1876 and lived there until 1906. [3] In 1907 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus purchased the building, and it became St. Joseph's Cathedral School. It was abandoned around 1959, and vandals ruined much of its interior. Around 1960, the building and its land were sold to a developer who built the Christopher Inn, and the Kelley house was offered for free to anyone willing to move it. [2] In March 1961, the Ohio Historical Society and Franklin County Historical Society joined up with the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts to form the Kelley House Committee, Inc., a group of preservationists aiming to preserve the mansion. [6] The Kelley House Committee attempted to raise $100,000 to save and move the house. Fundraising was not successful, and in August 1961, the preservation committee decided to dismantle the house and store the pieces until enough money could be raised. [6] About 300 photographs were taken of the building, and measurements and drawings were taken for its 3,000 stone blocks. [4] The house was taken down under supervision in September 1961. [4] [2]

The committee asked for additional time on numerous occasions, and decided to move the stone blocks to Wolfe Park in Columbus, where the committee hoped to rebuild the house, creating a museum and memorial to Kelley. The large sandstone blocks remained in Wolfe Park for over four years when the city deemed them an eyesore; the committee still asked for more time. In 1966, the city ordered the stones to be removed, and so five truckloads of the mansion's stones were dumped on the banks of the Scioto Big Run at Big Run Park. After eight months, the stone blocks were moved to the Ohio State Fairgrounds, where it was proposed they could be used in the proposed Ohio Village. In 1971, after sitting in the fairgrounds parking lot for about four years, the Ohio Exposition Commission ordered the stones to be moved or buried. Around 1973, the Western Reserve Historical Society agreed to take the stones and place them in a field at their own historical village museum in Bath Township, near Akron. Around 1973, twenty truckloads of the mansion's stones were moved to the Hale Farm and Village. Many of the stones were missing or weathered; the markings for reassembly were worn off. [6]

The initiative to save the Kelley Mansion failed, though it spurred many of the same preservationists to successfully save the Union Station arch several years later. [6] The Christopher Inn was itself demolished in 1988, and is now the site of surface parking lots.

See also

Related Research Articles

Nathan B. Kelley was an American architect and builder. He was a prolific architect whose designs dominated the cityscape of Columbus, Ohio at the middle of the 19th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victorian Village</span> Neighborhood of Columbus in Franklin, Ohio, United States

Victorian Village is a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, United States, north and near west of downtown. It is an established neighborhood built when a streetcar line first ran along Neil Avenue around 1900 with a fair number of established trees for an urban setting. To preserve, protect and enhance the unique architectural and historical features, the Victorian Village Historic District was established in 1973. Columbus Monthly named this neighborhood the top place to live for Arts and Entertainment, with fun right around the corner in the Short North as its neighborhood hangout.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee</span> American architect

Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee was a Boston architect and a partner in the firm of Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Structure relocation</span>

A structure relocation is the process of moving a structure from one location to another. There are two main ways for a structure to be moved: disassembling and then reassembling it at the required destination, or transporting it whole. For the latter, the building is first raised and then may be pushed on temporary rails or dollies if the distance is short. Otherwise, wheels, such as flatbed trucks, are used. These moves can be complicated and require the removal of protruding parts of the building, such as the chimney, as well as obstacles along the journey, such as overhead cables and trees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brewery District</span> Neighborhood of Columbus in Franklin, Ohio, United States

The Brewery District, traditionally known as the Old German Brewing District, is a neighborhood located in Columbus, Ohio. Located just south of the central business district and west of German Village, it is bounded by Interstate 70 on the north, South Pearl Street on the east, Greenlawn Avenue on the south, and the Scioto River on the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Packard</span>

Frank L. Packard was a prominent architect in Ohio. Many of his works were under the firm Yost & Packard, a company co-owned by Joseph W. Yost.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ohio History Connection</span> Nonprofit cultural heritage organization in Ohio, US

Ohio History Connection, formerly The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society and Ohio Historical Society, is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1885. Headquartered at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio History Connection provides services to both preserve and share Ohio's history, including its prehistory, and manages over 50 museums and sites across the state. An early iteration of the organization was founded by Brigadier General Roeliff Brinkerhoff in 1875. Over its history, the organization changed its name twice, with the first occurring in 1954 when the name was shortened to Ohio Historical Society. In 2014, it was changed again to Ohio History Connection, in what members believed was a more modern and welcoming representation of the organization's image.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Kelley</span> American politician

Alfred Kelley was a banker, canal builder, lawyer, railroad executive, and state legislator in the state of Ohio in the United States. He is considered by historians to be one of the most prominent commercial, financial, and political Ohioans of the first half of the 19th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christopher Inn</span> Former hotel in Columbus, Ohio

The Christopher Inn was a hotel in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. The cylindrical mid-century modern hotel had 16 floors, 137 wedge-shaped rooms, and modern interiors at the time. It was built on the site of the Alfred Kelley mansion, which was disassembled in order to build the hotel. The Christopher Inn operated from 1963 to 1988, when it was demolished. The site is now used as a surface parking lot.

S.G. Loewendick & Sons, also known as Loewendick Demolition Contractors, is a demolition company based in Grove City, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The company is the largest demolition company in Central Ohio. It has demolished most of the landmark buildings in Columbus in recent decades, including Union Station, the Ohio Penitentiary, the Christopher Inn, and the Deshler Hotel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Broad Street (Columbus, Ohio)</span> East-west street in Columbus, Ohio

Broad Street is a major thoroughfare in Central Ohio, predominantly in Franklin County and Columbus. It stretches east from West Jefferson at Little Darby Creek to Pataskala. The street is considered one of Columbus's two main roads, along with High Street.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Market (Columbus, Ohio)</span> Public market in Columbus, Ohio

Central Market was a public market in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. The market operated from 1814 to 1966, was the location of Columbus's first city hall for two decades, from 1850 to 1872. It moved three times, each time into successively larger buildings. The third market building stood the longest time, from 1850 to 1966, when it was demolished as part of the Market-Mohawk Urban Renewal project. North Market remains, the only one left of four public markets that operated in the city.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franklin County Courthouse (1887–1974)</span> Former courthouse of Franklin County, Ohio

The 1887 Franklin County Courthouse was the second permanent courthouse of Franklin County, Ohio. The building, located in the county seat of Columbus, stood from 1887 to 1974. It replaced a smaller courthouse on the site, extant from 1840 to c. 1884. The 1887 courthouse deteriorated over several decades, and the site was eventually replaced with Dorrian Commons Park, open from 1976 to 2018; the court moved to a new building nearby. As of 2020, the site is planned to once again hold the county's courthouse.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">77 North Front Street</span> City office building in Columbus, Ohio

77 North Front Street is a municipal office building of Columbus, Ohio, in the city's downtown Civic Center. The building, originally built as the Central Police Station in 1930, operated in that function until 1991. After about two decades of vacancy, the structure was renovated for city agency use in 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Union Station arch</span> Historical relic in Columbus, Ohio

The Union Station arch is a 35 ft (11 m) Beaux-Arts arch standing at McFerson Commons Park in Columbus, Ohio. The work was designed by renowned architect Daniel Burnham, as part of a grand entranceway to the city's Union Station. It has intricate details, including Corinthian columns, multiple cornices and friezes, and statuary groups; some currently in storage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neville Mansion</span> Historic house in Columbus, Ohio

The Neville Mansion is a historic house in the Olde Towne East neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Portions of the house may have been built in the early 19th century, though the majority was complete by the mid-1850s. It was built for M.L. Neville, who purchased the property in 1855. Two years later, it became the Ohio Asylum for the Education of Idiotic and Imbecile Youth, which moved out to its current campus in 1868. The mansion then held the Hannah Neil Mission and Home of the Friendless for over a century, from 1868 to 1977. The mission served as an orphanage, homeless shelter, and school for various types of disadvantaged residents throughout its history. After Neil's organization moved out, the mansion was renovated for office use.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franklin County Courthouse (1840–1884)</span> Former courthouse of Franklin County, Ohio

The 1840 Franklin County Courthouse was the first permanent courthouse of Franklin County, Ohio in the United States. The building, located in the county seat of Columbus, stood from 1840 to 1884. The building was replaced with another county courthouse in 1887, and after its demise, that courthouse was replaced with Dorrian Commons Park, open from 1976 to 2018; the courthouse moved to a new building nearby. The site is now planned to once again hold the county's courthouse.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lazarus House</span> Historic house in Columbus, Ohio

The Lazarus House is a historic house in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was built in 1886 for Frederick Lazarus Sr., president of the F&R Lazarus & Company, and was designed in the French Second Empire style. It has undergone numerous renovations since its construction, including for conversion into office space, into apartments, and back to predominantly single-family occupancy. The house is a contributing property of the East Town Street Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places and Columbus Register of Historic Properties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Education Press Building</span> Former building in Columbus, Ohio

The American Education Press Building was an office and industrial building in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was designed by Richards, McCarty & Bulford in the Streamline Moderne style, with rounded corners, a flat roof, and its exterior and interior walls predominantly made from glass blocks, a new innovation in the 1930s.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Samuelson, Robert E.; et al. (Pasquale C. Grado, Judith L. Kitchen, Jeffrey T. Darbee) (1976). Architecture: Columbus . The Foundation of The Columbus Chapter of The American Institute of Architects. p. 97. OCLC   2697928.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Tebben, Gerald (March 24, 2012). "Columbus Mileposts: March 24, 1961 - Mansion once stood as promise of Ohio's ability to meet debts". The Columbus Dispatch. p. 8B. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Arter, Bill (February–March 1960). "The House That Kelley Built". Landmarks. Franklin County Historical Society. 1 (1): 6–12. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "News and Notes". Ohio History Journal. Vol. 71, no. 1. January 1962. pp. 62–66. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Arter, Bill (August 21, 1966). "Columbus Vignettes: The Kelley House". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Stratton, Lee (March 14, 1977). "Great Arch Shadowed By Kelley Mansion Fiasco". The Columbus Dispatch. p. B-1. Retrieved August 13, 2021.