In 1796, Congress appropriated the Refugee Lands for individuals who had supported the Colonial cause in the American Revolution. By 1802, an American Revolution veteran named John McGowan claimed 328 acres, most of what would become the German Village.
By 1830, massive German immigration to the city had occurred, and by 1865, one-third of Columbus’s population was German and the community was flourishing.
During the wave of anti-German sentiment following World War I, the teaching of German in public schools was banned, German textbooks were burned at Broad and High streets and at the foot of the Schiller stature, German street names were changed, and Schiller Park was renamed Washington Park.
Ironically, the German-American community would produce Columbus’s finest war hero, and one of America’s, from World War I, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, for whom Rickenbacker International Airport is named.
The area continued to decline, however, until the 1960s when concerned citizens managed to save the area’s historic architecture from demolition by successfully lobbying for a local commission, the German Village Commission, to have power over external changes made to buildings, and, in 1975, by getting the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.