By Rick Palsgrove
Seeing things from a viewpoint high above offers one an interesting perspective.
At the Groveport Heritage Museum, 648 Main St., we are lucky to have a large aerial photo of Groveport from 1952 (see photo at right). I believe the photo was authorized by Franklin County officials and taken by a photographer in either a plane or a helicopter.
The photo is wonderful because, from that aerial viewpoint, it reveals both the layers of history visible in the Groveport landscape as well as the then modern changes taking place in the town 70 years ago.
One can see how transportation systems shaped Groveport. In the photo, the remnants of the 19th century era Ohio and Erie Canal can be seen as its route cuts through the eastern edge of town from the northeast to the southwest. The route of the early 20th century Scioto Valley Traction Line electric interurban railway is visible coming from the west to Blacklick Street and then east toward Canal Winchester. The railroad curves into town from the northwest crossing College and Front streets and then heads east.
Groveport School (now Groveport Elementary) stands out in the photo because of its sheer size. The school’s old oval cinder running track is plainly visible to the west of the school, but the two small baseball diamonds in its infield that we know today were not yet built in 1952 as that ground encircled by the track was still being used as the high school football field. (However, the large baseball diamond was there just east of the track.) The current football field behind Groveport Madison Middle School Central did not yet exist as it would not be built until the mid to late 1950s. Just east of Groveport School one can see a newly built free standing gymnasium. That gym was the first phase of a project that in the mid-1950s added classrooms and a cafeteria to it to become a new high school. That school eventually became what is now Middle School Central.
A striking thing about the aerial photo is how Groveport is surrounded by open farm land as well as the open areas within the town limits. Lesleh Avenue looks newly constructed and only one house was in place on that street. One can see that Cherry and Canal streets were extended to connect to Lesleh Avenue and these extensions also did not yet have houses along them.
Further west, the Kessler Addition subdivision looks newly built encompassing Madison, Kessler, and South streets.
Mohr Avenue, Holton Street, and Clark Court did not yet exist and that area was open land when the aerial photo was taken. West Street ended at Canal Street to the south.
Glendening Elementary and Groveport Madison Middle School South were not there and that area appeared to be farm land.
Large familiar buildings stand out in the photo, such as the Groveport United Methodist Church and Groveport Town Hall along Main Street as well as the former Catholic Mission at the end of Naomi Court.
The Groveport Cemetery was visibly smaller than it is now because of the presence of more graves in the past 70 years. Neighboring Heritage Park did not exist and the Palm’s Pond area looked like a wetland.
Along the streets of town there were vacant lots awaiting houses that would be built in the coming seven decades.
Near the edges of town the houses thinned out and farm fields began to dominate. The town’s agricultural character at the time is emphasized by the two rows of several grain silos visible on ground on the northeast corner of South Hamilton Road and Corbett Road.
Photos capture specific moments in time, but I feel this aerial photo seems to do even more than that as one can see the past, present, and future co-existing in one place.