Episode 11: Back and better than ever + Buildings Have Names


Hello world, this is STEMS and Leaves, I’m your host and local micro-mobility enthusiast, Emme. It is 2020. 

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the show on social media or at our website, stems and leaves dot com, you know that we’ve been on hiatus for a few months.
Last semester was incredibly busy and I had very little time to spare, let alone invest in creating new content for the show. Fortunately, this semester has a little more wiggle room and I’m really excited to share what you, listener, can expect from the show over the next few months.

I’m graduating in the spring and for credit towards my degree, I’m doing an independent study. The department usually allows students to pursue independent study as part of thesis work or research projects, but I asked for a bit of wiggle room to allow my podcast to be a sort of creative inquiry. 

With encouragement from the geography department, I’ll be producing a few GIS and Geography specific episodes this semester to explore how the skills and knowledge I’ve gained through the GIS program can be put to work in the real world across various industries. And hopefully through this process, I can uncover new and groovy ideas that can benefit other students and GI curious folks. 

So, these next few months you can look forward to new interviews and research informed discussions on topics ranging from disease tracking to technology adoption in unexpected communities. I haven’t finalized my publishing schedule, but I anticipate being able to share a new episode once a month, with accompanying blog discussion and links to continuing fueling the conversation.  

Another update I want to share with you in this interlude episode is a new project I will be launching in the next few weeks.

If you are a fan of urban exploration, local history sleuthing, crowdsource maps, or mysterious and potentially haunted experiences, you might be a fan of what’s coming. 

I’ve been in Columbus Ohio for almost 5 years  now and I’ve spent a lot of time exploring by foot bike bus and car. There’s several cool, historic neighborhoods in our city: German Village, Victorian Village and a smattering of other old developments along what used to be our streetcar lines. I live in a historic neighborhood and everyday I notice something new about the buildings around me. Over the past year, my interest has been piqued by the presence of what I’ve been calling, Buildings With Names.

In Victorian Village, off of West 1st Ave, there is a modest brownstone rowhouse across from the old school. Passing by you wouldn’t think twice, but if you pause and look up, you’ll see at top, the name Amelia. 

For two years I saw this name on that building. There it sat, an unscratched itch in my brain. I couldn’t help but wonder.

Who was Amelia? The owner? The company that built it? Someone else entirely unrelated?

It tickled my imagination to think about the person whose name decorated that unassuming building. Those rowhouses were built in 1890 in the Atchinson Collins sub addition. From old parcel records, which were the standard city property records from 1920 to 1998, it was owned by Oliver Boesel before 1943, when the property was transferred. Oliver ran a local grocery with his father, August Boesel, for several years.

The property on West First Avenue bears the name of Oliver’s youngest sister, Amelia. They had another sister, Clementina, who died in childhood before Amelia was born, and a brother, Julius, who died sometime before the age of 2, also before Amelia was born. Amelia was born in 1883. Thanks to the society pages of the Columbus Dispatch, I was able to piece together a bit of Amelia’s life.

She was educated at least through the first year of high school, though she never attended college.She was a member of the Neil Ave Methodist Episcopal Church and was a regular participant in the Helping Hand Bible class. She also hosted meetings for the Women’s Foreign Missionary society at her home on West Fourth Ave. In 1921, at age 38, she married Homer H Perry, a widower with a son, Gordon, by his first wife. Homer was born in New York. According to the 1900 census, he lived in his mother’s household and was employed as a cigar maker.

 He was college educated and, at least while he was married to Amelia, he worked as a carpenter. His son, Gordon, also attended college, but his whereabouts after 1940 are hard to determine. Amelia and Homer never had any children together. The couple remained actively involved with the church throughout their marriage. They lived in Oakland Park, a neighborhood in the modern North Linden community. The property, at 380 Piedmont Ave, transferred to Amelia after Homer’s death in 1948 after an extended illness and then later to Gordon after Amelia had aged. 

From what I can tell, Amelia may not have ever lived at the West First property, or if she did, it was only for a short time. I was able to find out a fair amount about her life and the livelihoods of her husband and relations, but no answers as to why her name is there, or who put it there. Another mystery yet to be solved. 

But, there will be no shortage of mysteries for us here in Columbus. The Amelia house is not the only building with a name. There’s Hanes, the Virginia, the Peerless, the Northern…. Other relics of our cities younger days, with more histories to uncover. And, as much fun as I’ve had unearthing the history of Amelia, I certainly can’t get much further without some help. 

So, in a few weeks, I’ll be sharing a map app where you can participate in the hunt. It’ll be a sort of historical scavenger hunt and we can all learn more about some of Columbus’ forgotten history. 

So if you’re out on foot, or bike, or bus ( I do discourage this journey of discovery by car, it’s dangerous to be a lookie-loo behind the wheel), but other modes, keep your eyes peeled and take notes! The buildings have names, and it’s up to us to find them.

This is STEMS and Leaves, I’m Emme. Stay Curious.

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