Several weeks ago, I happened to purchase a brass plaque from Jim Langley, the owner of German Village Antiques. It displayed the German Coat of Arms and was inscribed with the words "German Village Society." In the same week, as I stopped by the German Village Meeting Haus to renew my membership, I noticed the same plaque in the office.

Several weeks ago, I happened to purchase a brass plaque from Jim Langley, the owner of German Village Antiques. It displayed the German Coat of Arms and was inscribed with the words "German Village Society." In the same week, as I stopped by the German Village Meeting Haus to renew my membership, I noticed the same plaque in the office.

I mentioned to Jody Graichen, the director of historic preservation at the German Village Society, that I had acquired a similar plaque. She suggested I do some research on the history of the plaque and submit my findings to ThisWeek.

What follows is the information I found as I did some detective work.

The story begins in 1812 when German immigrants began arriving in Columbus and settled in the German Village area. By 1890, the numbers of German-Americans had grown to 7,000.

They were industrious people and exhibited pride in ownership and encouraged beautification of their surroundings. They swept the sidewalks, and were even known to sweep the dirt.

However, by 1960, the area had deteriorated. Properties were neglected and selling for "peanuts." But a vision arose to return the area to its former order and beauty. A trailblazer in this movement was Mr. Frank Fetch, who was instrumental in ensuring that German Village would become a protected historic preservation district.

Also in 1960, the German Village Society hosted its first annual Haus und Garten Tour in June. Hundreds of visitors swarmed to the neighborhood to see eight restored homes and two gardens. And now, 50 years later, it has become one of Columbus' popular annual events.

As the German Village Society selected houses and gardens to be highlighted for the annual tour, they gave the owners the brass plaque as a commemorative of the event. The plaques were first awarded in 1961. Each had a number stamped on the back which was recorded by the Society. Through the years some of the plaques were removed because of theft, or because their owners moved and took the plaques with them. Because of the cost of the metal and workmanship, the plaques were eventually replaced with a brass tag.

The artist who designed the master (made out of plaster) was Phil Kientz. He was a village native and later was well-known for designing the Umbrella Girl's home, the octagonal sandstone pond which is located in Schiller Park. Once the master was created, it was turned over to Frank Heinlein who was also a member of the Society. Mr. Heinlein made the production, or match plate. (In 1930, he had started the Heinlein Brass Foundry on Third Street.) The brass plaques were then sold to the society who owned the master. (Another interesting fact is that Frank's son, Jim, a metal finisher, was not only involved in making the plaques, but also created the harness hardware for the Budweiser Clydesdales for 20 years.) The lettering on the plaque was done by H.P. Mauglin.

Historically, plakettes (the German word for plaque) were used in Deutschland to mark a significant event or person. They were typically a flat stone or ornamental metal plate affixed to a wall.

Our Society plaque bears the German Coat of Arms which is one of the oldest extant state symbols of Europe. In fact, it is among the oldest insignia in the world. It also features a dominant eagle which is said to have originated around 1200.

Over the centuries, many variations have been adopted for political or military reasons, but the eagle has remained the central theme. An interesting fact is that from the mid-15th century forward, the respective emperors put the emblem of their dynasty on the eagle's chest. Our own German Village Society plaque has a crest on the eagle's chest with the word "Preserve" and a Dutch brick cottage.

As I researched the history of my plaque, I was once again amazed at the wonderful legacy we have here in our Village.

And we again look forward to our Haus und Garten Tour, an historic 50th one. It will be held on June 28 and will feature 14 sites. The theme is "Celebrating 50 Years of Inspired Living." The flower to be highlighted this year is the red geranium. These brilliant flowers will be in bloom throughout the Village. Come and help us celebrate. Be a part of German Village's colorful history.

Christine Seitzinger and Dorothy Hsu-Seitzinger are German Village residents and German Village Society members.