When Tom and I first moved to Westerville, lots of people told us how much they liked the charming downtown shops. Tom and I were eager to check them out, because we like fun and funky places as much as anyone else. But it wasn’t until May that we really started to explore them. And we have been so busy during May that we haven’t had a lot of time to do much.
First of all, downtown Westerville is called Uptown Westerville. Uptown Westerville has been the historic city center since 1858. I couldn’t find any reason why the downtown is called Uptown. Maybe to differentiate it from downtown Columbus. There are 105 local merchants in Uptown Westerville, which means that we haven’t even begun to shop! We haven’t tried any of the restaurants yet because they are mostly indoor and we still aren’t doing that.
According to the Uptown Plan, “People are drawn to Uptown because of its inviting scale, historic form, unique character, active storefronts, and walkability. It exists in this great condition because of the tireless efforts of generations of Westerville residents, business owners, city officials, and Uptown champions.” Rah, rah, civic pride! We enjoyed seeing the historic markers and the plaques that describe the historic shops that used to be in the buildings.
And, speaking of civic pride and history, Westerville used to be notable for being the “Dry Capital of the World.” In the 1870’s a conflict between pro- and anti-temperance forces created the “Westerville Whiskey Wars.” Twice, in 1875 and 1879, businessman Henry Corbin opened a saloon in Westerville, and each time the townspeople blew up his establishment with gunpowder! Westerville’s reputation for temperance was so significant that in 1909 the Anti-Saloon League moved its national headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Westerville. The League was instrumental in getting the 18th Amendment ratified in 1919. The League printed so many leaflets in support of temperance and prohibition—over 40 tons of mail per month—that Westerville was the smallest town in the nation to have a first class post office. Westerville remained dry until 2004, when the first liquor licenses were granted to restaurants in Uptown Westerville. You can visit the Anti-Saloon League museum in the Westerville Library.
I have been getting my hair cut by Amanda Peterfy at Uptown Hair Design since August. Every time I go, I want to explore Uptown, but we waited until we got our vaccinations. When I got my last haircut at the beginning of May, I walked around a little and checked out Schneider’s Bakery. I had heard the apple fritters were very good, but they were out of those. I got a couple of donuts and some cookies.
A couple of weeks ago, John asked us to make a Fartley Farms Hot Sauce delivery to the Ohio Art Market, which became a great excuse to spend some time looking around the store. The Ohio Art Market is exactly the kind of store where I like to really browse. It is filled with unique items made by artisans from Ohio. There is lots of art work as well as Ohio-made food items. I found some great birthday cards made by Snarky Card. Their motto is “Plain Cards, Colorful language, Slightly Inappropriate, Uniquely Hilarious and Totally For You.” I made it about 1/3 of the way around the store before Tom started feeling claustrophobic. Definitely a place I will revisit.
There are so many places to explore in Uptown Westerville that we have barely scratched the surface. I look forward to returning again and again as we continue to live close by.