Historic Neighborhood Walking Tours

postcard - Greetings from Columbus OhioJoin our expert guides to visit neighborhoods distinctive for their architecture, their beauty and their history. You will be enlightened, intrigued, and just plain glad you came.

Tours last approximately two hours. If the weather looks threatening, call 614-221-0227 for tour status an hour before the start time. We typically proceed if it’s light rain and no thunder/lightening. Wear comfortable shoes and bring an umbrella, if needed, and/or a water bottle!

Your ticket purchase supports the work of Columbus Landmarks as we advocate for historic preservation and quality new design, ensuring landmarks in the future! Members enjoy discounted tickets.
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Forbidden City Tour
Saturday, October 7 2-4 p.m. 
Fortner Upholstering Inc. (former Seagrave plant), 2050 South High Street
$15 Members/$20 Non-Members



In the “spirit” of Forbidden City tours of the 1980s, we will again explore the otherwise unknown and unseen side of Columbus buildings. This walking tour (and we stress walking even though we are touring one large site) will wind in and out of Columbus’ oldest remaining industrial buildings that have fascinated those who drive South High Street—the former Seagrave Fire Apparatus manufacturing plant. Fortner Upholstering, an 88-year-old Columbus maker of upholstered furniture, has moved into the c1890 complex on the South Side that started out as the home of horse-drawn fire carriages.

Those who love the atmospheric combination of “urban decay”–the late afternoon sun, the windows and industrial tracings, the cavernous spaces – will want to bring their cameras (or smart phones for serious Instagram ops!) We will reveal a “ghost sign” or two to add to the intrigue. We will also learn the history of the buildings and contemplate their design and architectural features. Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. Sorry, no children … it wouldn’t be forbidden if they were along!

Tom & Doreen’s Friday the 13th Magic Lantern Tour
Friday, October 13, 2017  7:30 – 9:30 pm
Parking lot corner of S. 4th and Cherry beside Hartman Building, 245 S. 4th
$15 Members/$20 Non-Members


Nineteenth century audiences delighted in viewing exotic and faraway places through the use of a “lantern magica,” an important sounding word that just meant “magic lantern,” which employed a light source and a strip of slides, hyalotypes, hand painted on glass. In the spirit of the season, Tom Betti and Doreen Uhas-Sauer, long-time Columbus Landmarks tour guides, will debut their own Magic Lantern Tour of Downtown Columbus. See the past come alive! Thrill to scenes of yesterday on the very location where they happened! Gasp in delight! Possibly stop for a beer!

Tour starts in the parking lot on the corner of S. 4th and Cherry (across from Little Palace and Dirty Franks) beside the Hartman Hotel Building at 7:30 pm (we need darkness to make magic work!) Tour is approximately two hours long – longer if we stop for a beer.

Design Tour – Weinland Park
Sunday, November 5  1-4 p.m. 
Neighborhood Design Center, 1445 Summit St. 
$20 Members/$25 Non-Members & For CEU Credit



Design for All – Affordable Housing in a Revitalizing Neighborhood

Meet with Michael Wilkos, Sr. Vice President of Community Impact for United Way Columbus. In his previous position as the Director of Community Research for The Columbus Foundation, Wilkos was instrumental in developing public/private/philanthropic partnerships to address housing and other poverty issues in the Weinland Park neighborhood of Columbus. Wilkos will give an overview before leading a walking tour through the neighborhood so that participants can see what physical changes have and continue to take place as part of the revitalization cycle.

Included on the walking tour will be discussion of the Community Properties of Ohio project, which includes multiple properties rehabilitated for Section 8 housing. The properties used historic and low income tax credits and was the recipient of the 2008 James B. Recchie Design Award, given annually the Columbus Landmarks Foundation for excellence in urban design that can be reflected in historic or new buildings and places, additions to existing buildings, parks, public spaces and public art. The award celebrates projects that add to the distinctive character and improved quality of life in Columbus and the designers responsible for them.

The tour will begin at the offices of the Columbus Neighborhood Design Center (in an historic building in Weinland Park) with a short presentation by Michael Wilkos. It will be followed by a walking tour of approximately 1-1/2 hours to see changes taking place, including affordable and market rate rehabilitated historic housing, new infill housing, a rehab of existing units for current residents.

The tour will touch on issues and challenges facing neighborhoods undergoing revitalization and techniques and partnerships that have been used successfully to retain and provide affordable housing to existing residents.

The entire tour route will be between one and two miles; we will walk at a leisurely place, stopping at each site to discuss projects. Free parking is available in the lot to the side and rear of the Neighborhood Design Center.

The tour is approved for 2.5 HSW Learning Units (Continuing Education Credits for Architects, Landscape Architects and Planners.)

  1. Attendees will understand the mission of Columbus Landmarks Foundation and its focus on preservation of the historic built environment and advocacy for quality new design;
  2. Attendees will learn about the design challenges of award winning projects and how the urban context and other community redevelopment goals can frame design solutions;
  3. Attendees will understand some of the challenges faced when trying to provide affordable housing in a neighborhood with appreciating property values; and
  4. Attendees will be exposed to innovative and creative solutions to design problems.