Casual History Walks offer insight on past of Grandview, Marble Cliff

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff are known as walkable communities. Despite their small sizes, both have a variety of distinctive sites with a rich history.

Residents and visitors can learn more about the communities with History Walks, a free application that went live Aug. 24.

The project is a collaboration between the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society and the Grandview Heights Public Library.

The app offers four self-guided walking tours, each lasting no more than 90 minutes and covering no more than 2 miles, said Karen Riggs, a trustee with the historical society.

"We didn't want to make the tours too taxing for people," she said.

The first tours are: Grandview Heights Highlights (stops include Grandview Heights High School, the Wallace Community Gardens and the site of the Urlin mansion -- now the site of Summit Chase Condominiums); Marble Cliff Highlights (including the Casparis Castle, the Sheldon Mansion and the former home of Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of two U.S. presidents); and routes featuring the houses that were part of the historical society's 2019 and 2016 Tour of Homes.

"It's a chance for you to view the exterior of the homes -- they aren't open for tours," Riggs said.

Other walking tours will be added, about one each quarter, she said.

In all, the historical society and library have developed about a dozen tours, Riggs said.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

"When you open the app, each tour features a map, current and past photos and text giving some of the background and history of each site," Riggs said.

"The tours are designed to give people a deeper appreciation and connection to the history of the community," said Canaan Faulkner, the library's public relations manager. "It gets you more involved with your community and its past. Hopefully, it also will encourage people to get out and get some fresh air."

The development of History Walks was spurred in part by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Riggs said.

"So many things have been closed that people have been out and about taking walks around the community," she said. "We wanted to do something to spice up the experience so you're not just doing the same old walk each time."

In the early decades of the 20th century, Grandview and Marble Cliff were considered countryside retreats for wealthy Columbus residents looking to escape the heat and noise of the city, Riggs said.

Many residences were built as summer retreats and a number of houses were designed by architect Frank Packard.

"We always love collaborating with our partners in the community on special projects," Faulkner said.

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