Photo: Buildings on the western side of the 600 block of High Street (U.S. Route 23) in the Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Photographed by User:Nyttend (own work), 2010, [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons, accessed July, 2022.
The Worthington Historic District encompasses the original village of Worthington, as planned in 1802 before the first settlers left New England for their new home in Ohio. The village plan was based on a New England model with a village green at the center, land set aside for a school and church, and individual lots for sale. Plat maps dating from 1803 and 1804 illustrate the original land divisions. The original town plat established a public square bounded on the east by a school lot and church lot—each containing 1‑1/2 acres—surrounded by 160 residential and commercial lots measuring 3/4 of an acre each. The Historic District includes 612 contributing resources; of these, 22 buildings and the Village Green are previously listed on the National Register of Historic places. The District also includes 104 non-contributing resources.
Although Worthington is now a city with a population of over 14,000, the original town plan is very much in evidence. Bounded by North, South, Morning and Evening Streets, the rectangular plan features a grid pattem of streets with the village green located at the intersection of two major roads—High Street (north-south) and Granville Road (east-west). Each of the four equal quadrants is further subdivided into four rectangular blocks. The strict geometry and regularity of the original plan reinforces the very strong sense of place in what is known locally as "Old Worthington."
The landscaped Village Green is located at the physical center of the district and continues to serve its original purpose as a place for public gatherings and reinforces the community's history and identity. The Green is rectangular in form and has a north-south orientation; is bisected by High Street and Granville Road; and each quadrant is also bordered by public streets on the other two sides. The Village Green is still characterized by the placement of public and religious buildings facing the open space—with the east side of the Village Green being used as the original town plan intended. St. John's Episcopal Church is located in the southeast quadrant of the Green on the site designated for church use; and the former library and Kilboume School are located on the northeast quadrant of the Green on land set aside for educational purposes. The Worthington Presbyterian Church faces the northeast quadrant of the Village Green and is located on the site of the congregation's original 1830 church structure. The buildings facing the southwest comer of the Village Green are 19th century residential stmctures, giving this quadrant a residential rather than institutional character. The Village Green was included in the Worthington Historic Resources National Register listing in 1980.
The Worthington Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A as an example of a New England town plan that subsequently developed over a period of 150 years. While the original forms and patterns of development still survive, the district reflects the evolution of the community from an independent village to a suburban community. The Worthington Historic District is further qualified under Criterion C due to its excellent collection of American architectural styles encompassing the early 19th to the mid-20th centuries.
The original town plan for Worthington was developed in Connecticut in 1802 and brought to Ohio in 1803 (the same year Ohio became a state) by the Scioto Company, a syndicate of 41 investors. The design for the village was imposed on land lying on the east bank of the Whetstone (Olentangy) River. The location was nine miles north of the existing settlement of Franklinton, located on the west bank of the Scioto River. It was also nine miles north of the undeveloped area on the east bank of the Scioto, across from Franklinton, that would become Columbus, Ohio's permanent state capitol in 1812. Although Worthington predated the founding of Columbus by nearly a decade, it would always remain influenced by the growth and development of Columbus.
Two hundred years after its founding, the original town layout, with its grid pattern of streets bordered by North, South, Moming and Evening streets; the Village Green with four green quadrants at the center of town; the hierarchy of High Street and Granville Road as the major north-south and east-west thoroughfares; and common setbacks and orientation of buildings toward the street are still very much in evidence. The plan of the Worthington Historic District differs from nearly all of the 20th century development within the boundaries of Worthington today, where curvilinear streets, looped streets and cul-de-sacs are the norm.
The architecture in the Worthington Historic District represents key architectural trends from the early 19th century to the mid-20th centuries, including examples of Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Second Empire, Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, Cape Cod, and modem Ranch styles. Many of Worthington's early buildings are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places; however, the village as a whole fulfills a different purpose. A walk from the center of the village, where the original planners' key institutions of church, school, and library still stand, to the periphery presents a substantially intact view of the changing forms of domestic and institutional architecture up to the mid-20th century, when the village spilled beyond its original boundaries during Central Ohio's post World War II housing boom and Worthington's transition from independent market village to commuter suburb of Columbus was complete.
Early in the 20th century, after public transportation became available, residential construction increased. American Four Square, Colonial Revival, and Craftsmen/Bungalows, were built during the first two decades of the 20th century. The architectural diversity in the streetscape reflects the fact that most of the village land was sold off as individual lots, rather than in large parcels to a few developers, so houses of different periods were constructed throughout the district.
Like many communities, Worthington experienced growth in the immediate post-World War II period. Individual homes, many in the ranch style, which became popular during this period, were built—especially in the northeast quadrant of the community. Small and affordable, these homes were attractive to those forming households and beginning families.
Although some of Worthington's most historic and architecturally significant buildings are reflected in its churches, schools, and commercial stmctures, the volume of the community's residential architecture best illustrates the effects of change from 1803 to 1962, from village to suburb.
The Worthington Historic District still reflects the integrity of the original town plan and how it was developed as the community evolved from an idea developed in New England in 1803 to its current status a vibrant residential town in the greater metropolitan Columbus area. The original design of the district has been maintained through the grid layout of streets; the Village Green at the center of the community with schools and churches located either on or near the Green; the commercial core along High Street; and its many residential streetscapes with individual lots, single-family homes, sidewalks and mature street trees. Its architecture represents a broad spectmm of styles ranging from early 19th century Federal to mid-20th century Cape Cods and ranches. Worthington appeals to a wide variety of residents, from descendents of the original settlers to newcomers who find employment with the colleges and universities, govemment and businesses in the metropolitan area. It is a living history lesson of the realization of dreams of the men and women who made that long joumey from New England to Ohio in 1803 and how succeeding generations have respected that early dream while leaving their own marks on the community.
Adapted from: Jim Ventresca. Chairman, Worthington Historic District Committe, and Nancy Recchie/consultant. Benjamin D. Rickey & Company, Worthington Historic District, 2004, revised 2008, nomination document, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Clearview Avenue West • East North Street • East South Street • Evening Street • Granville Road East • Granville Road West • Hartford Court • Hartford Street • Hogh Street • Morning Street • New England Avenue West • Oxford Street • Short Street • Stafford Avenue East • Stafford Avenue West • West South Street