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Packard-Designed Mansion Threatened | Columbus Landmarks

Photo Credit: Anne Evans of The Metropreneur

4.17.18 UPDATE: Marble Cliff Council members unanimously indicated they would not support the revised concept for a proposed apartment building that would replace the Packard-designed mansion. The Developer’s revision reduced the number of units from 67 to 55, but did not reduce the size of the three-story building. No formal vote was held and the Developer requested the proposal be tabled. READ Columbus Dispatch coverage »

Marble Cliff Village Council is considering a proposal for a 67-unit apartment building that would replace the Tudor-style mansion designed by renowned architect Frank Packard in 1907 and located at 2015 W. Fifth Ave.

Proposed Concept

The F2 Companies, Elford Development and Sullivan Bruck Architects presented a concept plan at the January 29 Marble Cliff Council Meeting. The plan calls for total demolition of the mansion and an adjacent multi-story apartment building on Arlington Avenue to make way for a three-story building over parking. Marble Cliff Village has approximately 570 residents. The one and two-bedroom units proposed could increase the population by one-fifth.

The current owner purchased the building for $1.15 million in 2003. The Franklin County Auditor’s website lists the property value at $770,000 and the taxable value at $269,500.

Marble Cliff residents had the opportunity to learn about the proposed development at an open house on February 15 and public comment, including that from Columbus Landmarks,  was heard at the Feb. 19 Marble Cliff Council meeting. This is the first phase of the development review process. It will be an administrative decision whether this concept plan moves to the second phase, which is the preliminary plan phase. The second phase is a legislative process and the demolition approval would occur within that phase. The timeline is open-ended.

»READ 3.4.18 Joe Blundo Commentary at Columbus Dispatch

»READ 2.22.18 story on Columbus Underground

»READ 2.12.18 story in Tri-Village News

»READ 2.5.18 story in Tri-Village News

Our Position
The architectural and historical significance of this mansion cannot be overstated. The building can – and should – be saved. The Frank Packard-designed residences in Marble Cliff are character-defining and set the village apart from every other neighborhood in Columbus. We believe this property, included in redevelopment of the site, could be a true gateway to Marble Cliff for generations to come. This seems a very likely project to be eligible for historic preservation tax credits, and we hope reuse of the building will be further explored.

The Packard Impact
Born in Delaware, Ohio, Frank Packard (1866-1923) studied architecture and engineering at Ohio State University and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following his return to Columbus, he joined with Joseph Yost to form the architecture firm Packard and Yost. Packard was a prolific architect, working on outstanding residences such as this one as well as many notable landmarks that span architectural styles. His portfolio includes Hayes and Orton Halls at OSU; the Atlas Building; the former Governor’s Mansion (now The Columbus Foundation); the 1908 Civic Center Plan; The Seneca; North High School; Memorial Hall; the T&O Railroad Building; the Sells Mansion; the Granville Inn, and 10 homes in Marble Cliff. Packard was an early proponent of the Arts & Crafts movement, advocating for the use of locally sourced building materials and designing in harmony with the natural setting.

Barbara Powers, Department Head for Inventory and Registration at the State Historic Preservation Office, past Columbus Landmarks President, and expert on all things Packard, notes that his work in Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff is character defining and she compares it to the Arts & Crafts influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and other Prairie Style architects in Oak Park, IL.  In 2014, Powers led a tour of Packard’s work in Marble Cliff with Wayne Carlson of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society for the Victorian Society in America. “Marble Cliff is home to an incredible concentration of Packard’s high quality work,” she noted. “A national society elected to spend an entire day studying Packard’s work … the Packard homes in Marble Cliff, Ohio were a major draw.”

Who’s Who of Occupants

1954 Burgess & Niple engineers and their fleet at 2015 W. 5th

Frank Packard designed 2015 W. Fifth Ave. for William K. Lanman (wikipedia), president of the Columbus Bolt Company, and his wife Harriet Sharp Lanman in 1907. In 1935, E.W. “Billy” Ingram, founder of White Castle, purchased the home when he moved the headquarters from Wichita to Columbus. An early example of  creative adaptive reuse, the building was purchased by Burgess & Niple Engineering who moved their offices from downtown in 1953. The building has remained in commercial use since that time. One of the few commercial tenants occupying the building today is Collamore Built, a residential construction company committed to historic preservation, ironically. More Packard buildings in Columbus »

Marble Cliff Village values its rich architectural heritage. While we understand the frustration mounting with a neglected, underutilized, and overpriced property, we are actively urging the Village to be steadfast and resist this “fix” that will forever erase a key component of an extraordinary legacy. 

We would like to be a part of the conversation to discuss options, available resources, and alternative approaches that would make incorporating the existing structure viable.

Here is what YOU can do:

  • Please stay engaged with this process! Keep checking in frequently to stay up to date on this important issue.
  • If you are a Marble Cliff resident, connect with  Village Council members at their individual email addresses listed  »here  at the bottom of the Village homepage.
  • Nominate » this building (or any others) threatened with deterioration, vacancy, or impending development to the 2018 Most Endangered Buildings List
  • Join us for an upcoming tour and lecture showcasing Packard’s work – we are working with Barbara Powers and will have details soon; »send us an email to let us know you’re interested
  • Like us and share our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • »JOIN Columbus Landmarks or make a donation today to help us advocate for places that matter!


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(Use tab at top of post for comments!)


Bob Loversidge – February 13, 2018

This is certainly a travesty in the making. Frank Packard was probably our most significant architect — ever, and this mansion is a very visible reminder of his impact. Surely it could be adapted . . . surely it could be incorporated into a desirable new development project that would benefit the developers and the community. Does Marble Cliff have any sort of preservation legislation? Remember, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever . . .

Matt Sauer – February 13, 2018

If I’m not mistaken, my family used to visit my aunt, who was a nun, at this house in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was St. Raphael’s nursing home at the time and my aunt worked and lived there as a caretaker for the elderly. If I am correct, from what I recall, Prescott Bush, president of Buckeye Steel in the early 1900’s and father and grandfather to two presidents of the United States, once lived in this house. If correct, that might be historically significant. Is there another similar-looking house within a block or so of this one that I have mistaken for this house?

Becky West – February 22, 2018

Sorry for the delayed reply, and yes there is a similar house that was saved nearby! The Bush Mansion/St. Raphael was incorporated into the Prescott Place development nearby.

The mansion we’re concerned about is at 2015 W. Fifth, right between Roxbury and Arlington Aves., about a block away from where you visited your aunt.

Lyn Campbell – February 13, 2018

Please add my name to list for your Packard building tour.

Becky West – February 22, 2018

got it – thanks!

Kelly Butler – March 4, 2018

Please add my husband and me to your list for the tour. We are members.
It’s a travesty that Columbus wants to tear down historic buildings instead of celebrate them.

Cathie Ross – March 13, 2018

Please add my name to your list for the tour. I have friends who used to work in this building.

Becky West – March 21, 2018

We sure will – thanks, Cathie!

Kim sides – March 31, 2018

Please continue to inform me of any news /updates regarding this property. Thank you

Becky West – April 3, 2018

Hi Kim – we absolutely will! Thank you for your interest.

Gigi Moore – April 18, 2018

So glad this home will not be torn down. I wish those of us that want the building preserved could donate to a fund so the mansion could be purchased by our preservation group for a price commensurate with what a developer would have paid the owner. That way, everyone would be happy and we wouldn’t have to worry about the property ever being redeveloped in the future. And I bet we could apply for an exemption from paying the property taxes, since they would likely more than double. Thanks All!

Becky West – April 26, 2018

Hi Gigi – unfortunately we’re not out of the woods on this one yet, but we like the way you think! The developer who proposed the apartment concept may come back with a revised proposal in May. We are keeping a close eye on this one and would LOVE to talk to the owner and present alternative options/offers. We have made several attempts to reach her, but have not yet connected. Thank you for your interest and please stay tuned!

T. Swain – May 14, 2018

As a descendant of a former owner of this beautiful building, I really am shocked and horrified at the thought that it could be in danger of being torn down. The Marble Cliff Gateway Mansion is as its name describes, the gateway to both Grandview and Marble Cliff. It is the first real standout landmark as you drive up from Riverside Dr and the last thing your eye lingers on when leaving the Grandview area. To lose this building would take away from the area’s appreciable charm, especially if it is turned into just another apartment building. No matter how ‘cute’ and ‘Tudor’ you make it look, it is still an apartment complex (that there are already a million of and which typically do not age well). An apartment building is something everyone would pass by and ignore, but a historic mansion inspires amazement and imagination.

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