**3.20.17 Update: Demolition of the corner building at 790 E. Long St. is underway.
Do you see what we see? Pictured is the c1927 Adelphi Building, located at 818 E. Long Street, which later became the Williams & McNabb Mortuary. Take a close look at the historic image and then study the current image to reveal the intact decorative limestone facade behind the mansard roof that was added later with a modern addition. The building is located in the historic King Lincoln Bronzeville District diagonally across from the Lincoln Theatre.
The Adelphi Building was home to the Adelphi Loan and Savings Company, a bank created by and for blacks in a time this was necessitated by discrimination, and the Colored Ohio National Guard headquarters. Carl Eugene Barnett, an African American who received a B.S. in Architectural Engineering from OSU in 1918, developed the plans and specifications for the building and supervised its construction.
The Adelphi Loan and Savings Company organized with $25,000 in capital stock – a substantial start-up amount at the time raised by African American businessmen and leaders. Prior to the Adelphi’s opening, it would have been common for undertakers and funeral homes or pawn shops (often called poor men’s banks) to fill the lender role. The building is an important visual reminder in the history of Columbus and in understanding how it was, in its own right, a momentous civil rights step.
By the 1920s, Long Street was the black commercial, social and entertainment center of Columbus with many black-owned and operated businesses including barbershops, restaurants, medical offices, grocers, theaters and hotels. The area suffered from the 1960s on following construction of Interstate 71, which cut the neighborhood off from downtown. Many historic buildings were demolished on Long Street while others, like the Adelphi, are vacant and deteriorating.
Columbus Next Generation Development Corp., the city’s non-profit development arm, acquired the Adelphi and the other remaining building on this block, a brick Italianate also with multiple later additions at 790 E. Long Street (corner of Garfield & Long), with plans to prepare the site for future development by razing these two buildings. While redevelopment of this important block is critical to the future of the neighborhood, we believe the buildings to be architecturally and historically significant and we encourage Columbus Next Generation to consider their potential re-use while preserving a bit more of our city’s diminished African American history.
Imagine this site with a mix of old and new, working together to restore density and walkability in the neighborhood, honoring the past with an eye to a prosperous and sustainable future. Isn’t that the successful formula Columbus has achieved in the Short North and other historic neighborhoods?
Do you see what we see?