Local history is a very important and interesting subject. Learning about how and why a community has developed often helps determine what the community becomes.
On Community and Service Day in March, Bexley Middle School's eighth-grade students visited a number of sites important to the history of the King-Lincoln District, also known as Bronzeville. The King-Lincoln District has a rich and amazing history.
One place that we visited was the Lincoln Theatre. In the past, the Lincoln Theatre was a busy venue that brought people from all over to hear jazz music. This bustling theater eventually closed and the building declined. Fortunately, a community group bought the theater and recently transformed it back to its beautiful self.
Another stop was the Shiloh Baptist Church. The church was old and not in the best condition. The building of a highway directly adjacent to the church had caused some structural problems and the membership had dwindled. At one time, it held a community of people brought together by suffering and discrimination, seeking refuge in their faith.
Our BMS groups also toured the Kelton House, located on East Town Street near downtown. The Kelton House was a stop on the Underground Railroad and our tour guides shared stories about its history that showed openness and acceptance. The stories were inspiring not only in that time period, but also today.
In contrast, Bexley's history is different, with the community coming together not through suffering, but through residents' proximity in a small area.
One of Bexley's significant buildings, at the corner of Drexel and Main, was formerly Wentz Pharmacy. Now Graeter's, the pharmacy sold sodas and was once the "hip" hangout for Bexley's youth. The building of the National Road and the route of the cable car brought a steady flow of traffic through the town. Bexley became a self-sustaining city, with most people living on small farms or offering goods and services to the other residents. This system and the residents' close relationships with each other gave Bexley a small-town feel that remains a legacy today.
The histories of the King-Lincoln District and Bexley are very different, something obvious in the communities even now. Bexley, a prospering small town, and the King-Lincoln District, a community attempting to recover the bustling community it once was, demonstrate the diversity that was and still is Columbus.
Alyssa Burnett, an eighth-grade student at Bexley Middle School, wrote this reflection about a class trip.