Nestled snugly between Woodland Park and Bexley, Eastgate is a small, quiet residential neighborhood in Columbus that sometimes flies under the radar. Filmmakers Scott Spears and Christina Paolucci are hoping to change that.
“The Legacy of Eastgate” is the name of a new documentary film co-created by the duo, which takes a look at the vibrant history of this local community. The majority of the film project is already complete, but Scott and Christina are currently seeking contributions to help finish the editing process.
“For the price of two cups of high end coffee, you can help a local documentary,” says Spears. “We feel that this project is important because it tells the people of Columbus more about the people that live in their city and shares the rich heritage of Eastgate.”
The documentary needs an additional $4500, which the filmmakers are attempting to raise through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
We spoke recently with Scott and Christina to find out more about their project.
Walker Evans: Scott, you mentioned in your project video that you moved to the Eastgate neighborhood yourself several years ago. What initially got you interested in learning more about the history of the area?
Scott Spears: I began attending Eastgate Civic and Garden Association and through it I learned about the kind of people who lived around me and through them I started to learn about my neighborhood’s rich history. Eastgate historian, Kraig Thornhill, was instrumental in helping us with our early research. We continued with our research through the Internet and through the Ohio Historical Society. When the Greater Columbus Art’s Council announced that they were accepting grant applications for arts projects as part of the Columbus200 initiative to celebrate Columbus’s Bicentennial, we felt that “The Legacy of Eastgate” fit the bill. Working with my co-producer, Christina Paolucci, we developed an outline for the project and submitted it. We were thrilled when they funded our grant. We also just got a grant through the Ohio Humanities Council, but we still need more money for post-production.
Christina Paolucci: I too am curious by nature and wanted to know about the community which I live in. I first became curious about its history while walking through the neighborhood and noticing the beautiful landscape design and the neighborhood gardens. Kraig Thornhill, who has done a lot of research and created a historic walking tour, shared a lot of his information with us. Plus, being active in the Eastgate Garden Civic Association, you get to meet many neighbors and what their contributions to the community have been over the years. It has a fascinating history.
WE: As you both began researching the neighborhood, what sort of things surprised you the most about the history of the area?
CP: One thing that comes to mind is that on the original deeds of the Eastgate homes there were racially restrictive covenants stating that non-Caucasians could not own property in Eastgate. It was even stated in the 1916 ads in the Dispatch “lots sold to white Americans only”. I think many people do not know what racially restrictive covenants mean and how it has been a part of the history of the neighborhood and of many neighborhoods.
SS: What amazed me was how the history of the neighborhood ran back into Columbus’s early history. We would drive past this older brick house on Nelson Road and we knew it was old, but we didn’t realize how old. The Nelson house was built in 1819 and is one of the top three oldest local residential properties still in use. The Nelson homestead and lumber mill were centers for commerce for the Eastside in the early 1800s. We learned that Chic Harley, OSU football star, played for East High School on their field located in Eastgate. In the 1950s, the neighborhood shifted from white to African American in a few years and became a destination place for the black community. Five Tuskegee airmen made Eastgate their home. Eastgate has remained a stable neighborhood despite economy uncertainty.
WE: With WOSU producing a series of neighborhood documentaries, how do you see this comparing to, or complimenting/contrasting that effort?
SS: We feel that “The Legacy of Eastgate” will compliment WOSU’s Columbus Neighborhood series. WOSU will also consider it for airing once it is completed. They have been helpful in answering some production questions as we have progressed. Yes, they have more resources than we do, but we have time and great support from our neighbors.
WE: What prompted you to take the crowdfunding route to raise money to finish the project?
SS: Crowdfunding is a great option for projects like ours. Many people don’t think they can help a local production because they feel like they have to give thousands of dollars to help, but with crowdfunding you get the benefit of volume giving. A project can get lots of small donations to help them reach their goal. With “The Legacy of Eastgate” people can give as little as $10 and get a thanks on the website and as much as $500 for an “Executive Producer” credit on the film. There are many perks in between those figures that will allow the donor to get a copy of the finished movie and book of photos of Eastgate. The money will help us with obtaining stock footage and photos, get original music, and cover the cost of the final edit and sound mix.
You can find more information, or make a donation to this project at http://www.indiegogo.com/eastgate.