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Temperance Row Historic District

Westerville City, Franklin County, OH

The Temperance Row Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The Temperance Row Historic District is a predominantly early 20th century residential neighborhood in Westerville, Ohio, that is noteworthy for its strong association with the leading organizers and promoters of the Anti-Saloon League of America (ASLA) during the period from 1910-1935. The district is comprised of 43 contributing resources, including 27 houses, one six-unit rowhouse apartment building, and 10 garages.

Contributing homes in the district were built or gained significance between 1910 and 1935 when the area became known as "Temperance Row," a residential neighborhood developed by members of the Anti-Saloon League of America. Conceived along the lines of an agrarian-romantic movement, this 11-acre tract contains a significant number of homes designed in the rustic Craftsman style popularized during the early 20th century. The brick and frame bungalow home constructed in 1910 by ASLA General Superintendent Purley Baker set the tone for the neighborhood's subsequent development with Craftsman-influenced dwellings. Several of these use cobblestones obtained locally from nearby Alum Creek in foundations, porches or chimneys. The district also includes one cobblestone-constructed garage. Historic building types from the Craftsman period in the district include Bungalows, American Four Squares, two-story gable-front houses, and the brick row house. Some of the homes share common design features, especially doors, multi-paned windows and window trim, leading to speculation about common construction contracts or builders. In addition to the contributing buildings constructed after 1909, the district is also home to a small number of structures that pre-dated the ASLA members' settlement. These include the mid-19th century frame cottage that was moved to accommodate the Baker home as well as two 19th century vernacular frame houses that occupy the east side of Grove Street.

The historic district's character as a distinct neighborhood is enhanced by the natural and institutional features that occupy three of its borders. On the west is Alum Creek, with the neighborhood topography sloping south and west from the corner of Park and Grove Streets to the creek's deep ravine beyond University Street. On the north the district is bounded by the campus of Otterbein College (founded 1847) and on the south it is bordered by historic Otterbein Cemetery (established 1856). Otterbein College owns and uses several of the district properties on the north boundary, and has maintained their residential appearance. To the east of the district, in the two blocks between it and commercially-oriented South State Street, is a residential area that developed much earlier than the Temperance Row neighborhood, during the mid- to late- 19th-century.

The primary district streets are W. Park Street on the north, S. Grove Street on the east, W. Walnut Street on the south, and University Street on the west. W. Plum Street also intersects with Grove Street from the east, and Elmwood Place bisects the district between Grove and University. Park, Grove and Plum Streets retain their early 1900s brick paving, contributing to the district's early 20th century character. There are several district locations where lush and mature vegetation illustrates a landscaped residential setting that follows the contours of the land. Many tall and mature trees exist on the tract, particularly in the vicinity of Park and Grove Streets, which was the first part of the property to be developed. The district has integrity of location, setting, design, materials, craftsmanship, feeling and association, with few intrusions that post-date the period of significance.

The six houses on the west side of South Grove Street in the district became known as "Temperance Row" because they were built and occupied by lead organizers of the Anti-Saloon League of America beginning in 1910. All are contributing. They include the homes at 131 West Park Street and 67, 79, 101, 109 and 117 South Grove Street.

Being country-bred did not mean that these were uneducated or unskilled men, in fact just the opposite. A publication of the liquor interests at the time cautioned that the Anti-Saloon League was not peopled by fanatics but rather by "men with unusual ability, financial capitalists with very long purses, subscribed to by hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are solicited by their various churches, advised by well paid attorneys of great ability ..." These were the men who brought their families to Westerville and built or occupied homes in the Temperance Row neighborhood starting in 1910. Among the roles they assumed with the Anti-Saloon League of America were superintendent, assistant superintendent, general manager, editor, lecture bureau manager, department manager, printing plant superintendent, state ASLA manager, field agent, cartoonist and accountant.

‡ William V. Merriman, Judith B. Williams, and Beth A. Weinhardt, Temperance Row Historic District, Franklin County, OH, nomination document, 2008, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Elmwood Place • Grove Street South • Park Street West • University Street • Walnut Street