At Home: Seeing the Changes of Olde Towne East
Steve D’Aoust has witnessed much of the changes happening in Olde Towne East first hand.
“I was born and raised near Detroit and summered in West Virginia and wintered in Marietta,” he says.
A trip to Columbus about fifteen years ago to see the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus was all it took to decide to move here.
“I liked the city so much during that visit that I decided to look for a place,” he says. He worked with a real estate agent to find a place to rent at first. Then he was shown this house, a 2,000 square-foot home with four bedrooms and a bathroom, and three floors of living space and thought, “this is it.”
The old world character and feel of the home spoke to him. This year, the house will be celebrating its 125th birthday. The home was originally built in 1889 and Columbus’ first police chief Alexis Keeler lived (and passed away in) the home. Keeler was made Chief of Police on November 1, 1873, a position he did not hold for long as Keeler was a Republican. A political reorganization led by Democrats in 1874 did away with the act that made it possible for the Republican Keeler to be elected and instead, Charles Engelke was given the job.
The house has had quite a few owners since, but it still retains it’s original wood floors, pocket doors, and fireplaces.
D’Aoust has done some remodeling to the kitchen and refinished the wood floors. He has also enjoyed working on the grounds of the property, creating flourishing front and back yards.
“The gardens are an ongoing project that never stops,” he says. His front yard features a lilac bush that he ordered from historicaltrees.org, and is a direct decedent from Terry Roosevelt’s estate. The back yard has room for vegetables and he’s taken some of his extra produce over to the Near East Side Co-op to be offered for sale.
Being so close to Downtown and access to several bus lines is something he loves about the location of his home. Plus, being super-close to the Hot Chicken Takeover is a really nice added bonus!
“The neighborhoods here are so much nicer,” he says, when asked about how the neighborhood has changed. “People care about each other now. I love my neighbors.”
For Reference: History of the Police Department of Columbus, Ohio published by The Columbus Police Benevolent Association, Columbus, Ohio, 1908.
You can view D’Aoust’s artful handmade bench at CS Gallery during Not For Sale – The Private Collections of Olde Towne East, opening reception on Friday, September 19, 2014. Located at 66 Parsons Ave., Columbus, OH 43215.
At Home is a monthly column on Columbus Underground focused on urban home remodeling and style as well as older home renovations and unique homes in Columbus. If you would like to have your home featured in the At Home series, please send an email to me at [email protected].