Westerville is Central Ohio’s largest suburb, yet it maintains a small-town feel while still preserving its physical and cultural past. Despite a population of 36,000, residents consider the city’s charm and its historic Uptown District to be among their favorite community attributes.
In 1806, Edward Phelps, his family, and his friend Isaac Griswold, set out for Ohio from Windsor, Connecticut like many of his neighbors had in recent years, many of whom settled in what is now Worthington. He cleared the dense land and built a cabin on the 500 acres of land he had purchased along Alum Creek about where Westerville Road SR 161 intersect today. Edward and friends were the first to settle in the area.
In a few years, two brothers, Matthew and Peter Westervelt from New York, scouted the central Ohio area. Matthew and Peter were part of a lineage of pioneers in the Westervelt family, beginning with their ancestor Lubbert, who left Holland in 1662 for what is now an area near Brooklyn. The Westervelts were attracted to what is now the Westerville area because of the considerable amount of cheap, available land. On January 24, 1816, Matthew and Peter bought 890 acres of land along the eastern bank of Alum Creek for $3,562. By 1818, 4 Westervelt siblings were living in the area.
In 1820, Gideon Hart built a home on his farm along Hempstead Road. This home is significant, as it is the oldest home still standing in Westerville and one of a dozen community buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It remains a private residence.
By 1840 the area had over 900 residents, but without a name other than to be called Blendon Township. At this time the government decided to add a post office to the community. With that addition also came the need for a name. It was decided that because of their gift of land for an institute of higher learning (Otterbein), the town would be named after the Westervelts, hence: Westerville.
Westerville was incorporated as a village in 1858, and John Haywood became the community’s first mayor.
The Whiskey War and the Anti-Saloon League
The year after the village was incorporated, one of the first laws passed banned the use or sale of fermented spirits in the village. Westerville was one of the first communities in the state to do so. Westerville officially became a dry town that did not go unnoticed. In 1875, thinking that the town had outgrown its old-fashioned ways, saloon keeper Henry Corbin opened a saloon at 37 W. Main St. right in the heart of the village. Despite protests, he proceeded to ignore the law. For some, this became too much, and because the village authorities failed to enforce the law, they took matters into their own hands and set off a keg of gunpowder in the saloon that lifted the roof off the business. Not to be outdone by any angry mob, Corbin re-opened his saloon on State Street. However, this building too was blasted away. Later an Otterbein student confessed to setting off the explosions because his college room mate had come back to the dorm drunk.
This ended what had been called by some as the Whiskey War, but not Westerville's association with alcohol.
Prior to the beginning of the 20th Century, there was a growing movement across the country to ban alcohol everywhere that was mostly sponsored by religious organizations. This movement was spearheaded by several groups, including the Ohio Anti-Saloon League (founded in 1893 in Oberlin), the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibition Party. As these movements began to grow and have influence in the government, they also became better organized on a national scale. The National Anti Saloon League became headquartered in Chicago. However, Chicago being Chicago, the organization began to look elsewhere for their headquarters and that's when Westerville came into the picture.
The leaders of the League decided to move their national headquarters to the little village of Westerville in 1909. They were going to build an elaborate Lincoln Memorial Library to house all of their printing (they produced 40 tons of anti-alcohol publications a month). They had the ground breaking ceremonies, but the building never got built. With the League's headquarters now established in Westerville, the town promptly earned the nickname "The Dry Capital of the World." The results of these organizations directly led to the 18th Amendment of the Constitution banning the sale of intoxicating liquors. This period became known as Prohibition.
Today there is a museum at the Westerville Public Library at 127 S. State St. that houses documents about the Anti-Saloon League.
Westerville's first beer
Westerville has been dry ever since, up until 1:49 p.m., January 12, 2006. This is the time that Bill Morgan, a local jeweler in Westerville, paid $150 to purchase the first legal beer in Westerville at Michael's Pizza Shop. Voters in Westerville Precinct 1-D approved 2 liquor options for Evans' restaurant in November 2005. While not exactly a saloon, Michael's Pizza became the first establishment in The Dry Capital of the World to legally sell an intoxicating beverage.
4th Friday Celebration
The wide variety of community activities pointed out by the magazine is evident in Westerville as is its respect for its history and residents. One of its unique community activities is called 4th Friday which is celebrated throughout the warmer months of the year on any month that has 4 Fridays, which is just about every month. Each celebration is based on a particular theme.
Historic Uptown Westerville offers a variety of shops
Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market Every
Corner of N. State and E. Home Streets. Featuring seasonal produce and flowers, plus baked goods, honey, meat, organic items and gourmet foods.
Wednesday 3-6pm / May through October
Anti-Saloon League Museum
126 S. State St. Westerville, OH 43081
Hanby House Museum
160 W. Main St. Westerville, OH 43081
Historic Uptown Westerville
20 West Main Street Westerville, OH 43081
(614) 794-0401 / (800) 824-8461
Inniswoods Metro Gardens
940 Hempstead Rd. Westerville, OH 43081
Cozy booths and retro luncheonette bar stools team up with down-home vittles and first-rate service to make the 'Ville Grill a local favorite. Service at the Grill is so attentive that it seems they are actively pursuing new patrons to add to the substantial roster of regulars. The fish-and-chips are the biggest seller, but don't disregard the Uptown Burger, cooked and topped to your specifications and served with waffle fries, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and begging to be drenched in ketchup.
59 S. State Street Westerville, OH 43081
The first Upper Arlington location opened in December 1999, and City Barbeque has since expanded to open more of the rustically quaint, low-key establishments throughout the state. Meats are smoked in-house for close to 20 hours before finding their way to paper plates stacked high with made-from-scratch sides such as hush puppies, green beans, sweet potatoes, corn, and macaroni and potato salads.
6199 N Cleveland Ave Westerville, OH 43231
Fresco Italian Cucina
Provides a gracious and friendly dining experience that is true to their name "fresh". They use only the freshest and finest quality ingredients in their Italian cuisine, with desserts and baked goods scratch made.
377 W Main St., Westerville, OH 43081
Wendell’s is very much a pub, but with a huge difference. This pub is a full service restaurant, noted for pub fare such as fish and chips, should be highly praised on any list of steak houses. The Wendell's menu features fresh and flavorful dishes to satisfy even the most discerning palates. An extensive wine list compliments any of our delicious menu selections. Come in to enjoy an upscale casual dining experience. From the appetizer menu try the mini chicken quesadilla. Voted to have the Best Restroom in America!
925 N. State St. Westerville 43082
( 614) 818-0400
Dream Dinners (home cooking literally)
Dream Dinners is the best thing to happen to home cooking since the invention of fire. Each visit is a hands-on culinary lesson and you, the student, get to take the class work home for an entertaining study period. select any combination of 12 individually priced dinners from a 14-entrée monthly menu. Go to Dream Dinners’ elaborate Powell kitchen. Listen to brief instructions by owner Kari Compson, who, in a measure, tells how to compose by the numbers – a one-two-three step in following a recipe posted at your work station. All the required seasonings and ingredients are there before you. All the while you may ask for quick assistance as you prepare your entree’s.
31 Cherri Park Square Westerville, Ohio
(614) 890 - 8880