This story is part of the Curious C-bus project. You ask the questions, you vote for one of the questions and we answer. To ask your question, visit wosu.org/curious.
Many of Columbus’ original street names are generic—Town Street, State Street, etc. But as it turns out, there’s a story behind the naming of Downtown’s historic Mound Street.
Through our Curious C-bus project, viewer Del Sroufe asks, “This part of the country is known for its Indian burial mounds. What about Mound Street? Does the street have a connection to the ancient past?”
Mound Street is in fact a descriptor. In the early 1800s, “There was a 40-foot (tall) Indian mound sitting smack in the middle of Mound and High Street,” says historian Ed Lentz, executive director of Columbus Landmarks Foundation. So when the Ohio General Assembly commissioned surveyor Joel Wright to lay out the town in 1812, he named the street after the ancient landmark. “When High Street reached the mound, which was 300 feet wide at the base, it simply took a left and went around the mound and kept on going.”
One of the reasons the mound lasted for hundreds of years, Lentz says, is imposing oak trees—with trunks more than three feet around—grew out of the mound. Around the 1820s, local physician Dr. Young built a two-story house among the trees. “I imagine it gave you a certain amount of privacy,” Lentz says of the wooded summit.
This mound was one of about 10,000 that have been discovered across Ohio. “By the 1830s, traffic had gotten so heavy in that part of town that they decided to go ahead and remove the mound,” Lentz says.
Though it’s no longer intact, part of the mound remains in Columbus today. Clay from the mound was used “in virtually every initial brick building in the city, including the original statehouse,” Lentz says. Those bricks were used again when the statehouse was rebuilt after it was consumed by a fire in 1852.
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Columbus’ Ancient History
On this episode of Columbus Neighborhoods, we explore Columbus’ ancient history, starting with the Adena culture and the earthworks and artifacts they left behind. Local historian Ed Lentz explains how Mound Street got its name. Plus, Doreen Uhas Sauer, with the help of the Ohio History Connection and the current tenants, investigate the mystery of the Zenus Jackson House.