Shared from the 2018-03-04 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition


Imperiled mansion a vital link to our past


The mansion at 2015 W. 5th Ave. in Marble Cliff is targeted for demolition. [JOE BLUNDO]

William K. Lanman was the president of Columbus Bolt Works, once one of Columbus’ biggest manufacturers.

The company originated in the 19th century as a supplier of parts for wagons and, in the 20th century, shifted to cars and airplanes.

In the 1950s, the Bolt Works (by then called Columbus Bolt and Forging) employed 1,300 people and spanned 15 acres near the old Ohio Penitentiary.

Lanman’s son, William Jr., was a decorated World War II aviator who was later commissioned a colonel. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and is remembered at Yale University, his alma mater, as a generous benefactor.

That’s just a little of the history represented by 2015 W. 5th Avenue, the endangered Marble Cliff mansion built in 1908 for the Lanman family.

Here’s more: The structure was designed by Frank Packard, surely the most influential architect throughout Columbus’ history.

He or his firm, Yost & Packard, designed Orton Hall, home of the chimes at Ohio State University. The architects also designed the pagoda-shaped Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad Station on W. Broad Street and the Old Governor’s Mansion on E. Broad Street.

They also get credit for the Sells “Circus House” in Victorian Village, the Seneca Hotel Downtown and Franklin County Memorial Hall (the former Downtown home of COSI Columbus).

Eliminating a Frank Packard building wouldn’t be the most egregious demolition in Columbus history. The home of Lucas Sullivant, the city’s founding father, was razed to make way for a car dealership, for heaven’s sake.

But tearing down the mansion would certainly belong on the list of outrages committed against landmarks.

And it could happen.

The F2 Companies and Elford Development are proposing to demolish the Tudor-style mansion and replace it with an apartment building.

I hope it doesn’t happen.

If the Lanman mansion falls, the Columbus area loses a small piece of itself. It exchanges something unique and identifying for something generic. It erases a link to a history that includes an enormous bolt factory (who knew?), a war hero and a nationally renowned architect (Packard was widely praised for his work).

The mansion, used as an office building since the 1940s, could stand some sprucing up. But it’s still a graceful presence that makes a passer-by want to know its history.

The same could have been said of:

■ The Broad Street mansion of Alfred Kelley, the force behind Ohio's canal system.

■ The ornate old Franklin County Courthouse.

■ The Kahiki restaurant, nationally famous for its tiki architecture.

■ Union Station, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece on North High Street.

But they’re all gone — and, with them, some of our past.

We can't keep doing that.

Save the mansion.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch @joeblundo

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