Schiller Park will be the centerpiece of a celebration next year that coincides with the founding of Columbus 200 years ago.

Schiller Park will be the centerpiece of a celebration next year that coincides with the founding of Columbus 200 years ago.

The German Village Society received a $6,500 grant through the Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant Program, which is designed to help communities show their pride and heritage for the city’s bicentennial celebration.

“To me, this is exciting because it gives us an opportunity to showcase German Village as part of the 200-year celebration,” said Shiloh Todorov, director of the GVS.

The plan is to hold a daylong celebration in September, with family-focused programming during the afternoon and an adult-oriented party in the evening, said Katharine Moore, chairwoman of Friends of Schiller Park.

“The challenging part of this grant program is these dollars require a (100-percent) match,” she said. “So we’ve got some fundraising to do.”

Moore said the organization plans to use some of the money to help pay for ugrades at the park, including a new fountain in the pond and improvements at the Schiller statue.

“The timing is right,” she said. “The spirit of the grant seems to keep with what we’re hoping to accomplish.”

Jody Graichen, director of historic preservation programs for the GVS, said Schiller Park has an enormously important place in the history of German Village and the South Side.

Called Stewart’s Grove by early settlers, the park was purchased by Columbus in 1867 and named City Park. In 1891, it was renamed Schiller Park after Friedrich von Schiller, a German poet and philosopher. The park is now 23 acres.

Columbus’ second-oldest park was twice the size of the Ohio State Fairgrounds in the 1860s, the location of a swearing-in ceremony for soldiers going off to fight in the Mexican-American War and the setting for a convention of German singing societies in 1852.

These days, it is the home of the Actors’ Theatre of Columbus, a recreation center and several volunteer groups that maintain various gardens on the property.

“It’s a gathering spot for so many different things,” Graichen said. “It’s our community’s backyard.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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