The Frisbie

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the bulding

The Frisbie Apartments is named after Charles Frisbie who was born in Worthington, Ohio 1820.  In 1852 he married Mary Reed, the daughter of Alpheus Reed, a successful purveyor of dry goods and employer of her husband. The couple had 10 children and Mr. Frisbie would come to run a successful grocery store called Stage and Frisbie. He was also a silent partner in the firm of George McDonald & Company.  Charles retired in 1874, but continued a private money lending business. Shortly after his death in 1885, Mrs. Frisbie commissioned architect H.A. Linwaite to design The Frisbie Mansion, which would be constructed on this site from 1896 to 1898.

Mrs. Frisbie would eventually sell the residence to notable local businessman Frederick Schumacher. A prodigious supporter of the arts, Mr. Schumacher was President of the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (precursor to the Columbus Art Museum that now houses much of his personal collection) and was the founder of Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery. Mr. Schumacher passed away in 1957 and The Frisbie was demolished in 1961 to make way for a shopping center. This shopping center plan did not come to fruition and the site sat vacant until 1986 when a medical office building was constructed. The medical office was torn down in October 2020 for the building you are standing in today. 

The Frisbie mansion was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was very popular towards the end of the Victorian era. The main building had over 12,000 square feet of living space and the coach house at the rear of the property contained another 5,700 square feet, including the livery space. Both buildings were built from stone quarried in nearby Marble Cliff.

The current Frisbie apartment building is a wood-framed structure built on a post-tension concrete podium. The exterior is clad in two shades of grey cement fiber board, white brick, and brown Haride board. The colored glass in the south stairwell is designed to emulate the stained glass of Broad Street Presbyterian Church immediately to the east. The top panel’s color scheme of red, white, and yellow mirrors the tri-color flag of the City of Columbus. The Frisbie apartments is a LEED certified building. 

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the neighborhood

Fueled by growth after the Civil War, Columbus began a period of rapid expansion beyond the boundaries established during the city’s founding in 1812. Key to that growth was the development of the city’s streetcar system, which made communities outside of the downtown footprint accessible and fueled growth on Broad Street, Long Street, Main Street, Mt. Vernon Avenue, and Parsons Avenue. The new streetcar communities helped shape the development patterns that dominate the neighborhood to this day. 

During the Great Migration (1910-1940), many African-America families settled in the area and their presence began to impact the fabric of the community. By the 1920’s the neighborhood was known for the first hospital to serve the black population, the Alpha Hospital, a variety of unique shops and theaters that were frequented by the top jazz musicians of the era, including Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. It was around this time that the neighborhood adopted the Bronzeville moniker. Named in homage to a similar community on the south side of Chicago, Bronzeville gave name and geography to a local movement that desired to address social and economic concerns of African Americans. 

In the early 1960’s, the neighborhood would be irreparably changed by the construction of Interstate 71. Not only did the freeway destroy much of the fabric of the community, but it also served to sever the neighborhood from downtown. When combined with the large-scale demolition instituted by the Urban Renewal program, the community entered a period of decline. 

The early 2000’s would see a renewed interest in the neighborhood with the renovation of Lincoln Theatre, reconstruction of the Broad and Long Street bridges over I-71, and myriad of other new developments. The Frisbie is one part of the puzzle that is helping to usher the community in to a new and prosperous future.