“Go west, young lady,” I thought, as a warm, windy walk took me toward the Scioto River.
Horace Greeley might have been thinking about America’s westward expansion, but my Manifest Destiny involves exploring the home of Phillip’s Original Coney Island, the original Burger Boy Food-O-Rama and the headquarters of General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812, all waiting for me west of the Scioto.
But with only an hour to explore and return, I settled on two previews of coming attractions in Genoa Park, a recently revamped greenspace between Rich and Broad Streets in downtown Columbus.
With my Franklinton Art Walk map in hand, I passed Boomer bikers, Downtown worker walkers and homeless nappers in search of Locations 340 and 351.
Perennial construction rendered the sidewalk on the north side of West Broad Street unwalkable, so my route took me down to the walking path along the west bank of the river, past three strange “Scioto Lounge Deer Sculptures.” Billed as “whimsical,” these humanized deer recall how the Scioto River takes its name from the Shawnee Indian word for “hairy water,” when the migrating Shawnee found deer hair floating in the river.
Still shuddering, I finally sighted Location 351, the statue that local artist Michael Foley created in 2000 to honor Lucas Sullivant, who surveyed and purchased several acres of land near the Scioto River in 1796. The following year, he mapped out and founded a town, naming it Franklinton in honor of Benjamin Franklin, and the first settlers began arriving that Fall. Franklinton was the first settlement in the Scioto Valley north of Chillicothe, and is the oldest neighborhood in Columbus.
Standing tall and heroic, Sullivant looks westward, surveying the bend in the Scioto River, just as he did when he first arrived here in 1795.
Situated south of the Broad Street Bridge, near the east facade of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), housed in the former Central High School at 333 W. Broad St., the 12-foot-tall statue sits atop a five-foot, 11,500-pound base of Columbus limestone taken from the same vein near the original Sullivant stone quarry. Three commemorative plaques on the statue’s base depict three events in Franklinton’s history. First is the June 1813 meeting of Chief Tarhe the Crane and General William Henry Harrison, resulting in permanent peace with the Indians of Ohio. Second is the devastation of the 1913 flood, which left Franklinton in 15 to 20 feet of water. And third is a tribute to the early women of Franklinton, including Sarah Lewis, librarian of Franklinton’s first library, named in honor of Maggie Fager. Fager’s parents owned a grocery store at 969 W. Broad St., and her husband established a reading room there.
Columbus sculptor Alfred Tibor created this nine-foot-tall bronze statue to honor the story of Arthur Boke, the first known black child born in Franklinton, and Sarah Sullivant, Lucas Sullivant’s wife. Arthur’s mother was a black servant and his father was a white surveyor who worked for Sullivant. When Arthur was abandoned, Sarah raised him as her own with her newborn son, William, in 1803. Arthur stayed with the Sullivants his entire life and was buried with them in the family plot in the Franklinton cemetery.