1963 Ohio State House Parking Garage


In 1963 the Ohio State Legislature decided they needed somewhere to park their cars. Consequently, Ohio now has the world's largest Greek Revival building with a parking garage under it.

The garage cost $6.6 million to construct and has a 1200 car capacity. There are three levels. It is actually located under the front lawn, not under the structure itself. It opened on November 16, 1964, and the manager Dwight Dixon reported that 630 cars parked in there after the opening ceremonies were completed. A pedestrian tunnel connected the garage to the Neil House (now the Huntington Tower) on the other side of High Street.

The 89 year old iron fence was saved and replaced after construction. The McKinley Monument was relocated out towards High Street. There were several humorous incidents during construction. For example, in August, 1963 the State Highway Patrol arrested several dump truck drivers for overloading their trucks with the excavation fill. Also, after the garage was completed, the nozzle connections to the sprinkler system wouldn't fit the City of Columbus' standard hose connector. All in all, its just another piece of useful infrastructure that an earlier generation built for us to enjoy.

I bought a large lot of slides on E-Bay in 2006, and these pictures were among them. The only indication of the identity of the photographer were the words "Kenston Billman" on one of the moldering cardboard slide holders. All-in-all, a great find!

Click to Enlarge Photos

The front lawn of the Ohio State House is a huge pit! Looking south, you can see a movie theater in the background, the RKO Grand, and it was showing "How the West Was Won" (1962) starring Carroll Baker and Henry Fonda. Its not the Ohio Theater - you can see that in the picture directly below. "Dig it deeper!" bellowed the legislators, who were tired of parking on State Street and having to walk in the rain. This view is looking southwest towards the corner of High and State. The front of the State House, with a forty foot pit in front. Check out the old, brick-lined pipes revealed underneath the State House.
There is the Loew's Ohio Theater in the background. I guess technically, the parking garage isn't under the State House, but rather under the front lawn. Here you can see the former Lazarus. Since 1963 the City Center Mall has come and gone. Did you notice the electric trolley bus on High Street? View standing on the State House steps looking west. The Ohio Supreme Court building is in the background. To the right, you can see the Neil House Hotel. The "H"-shaped hotel was replaced by the "H"-shaped Huntington Tower in 1981.
Looking to the Northeast. The tower under construction is the Adam's Mark Hotel, now the Columbus Renaissance Hotel. Where the Railroad Savings and Loan and WBNS-10TV buildings are, the State Office Building now stands. Railroads once employed over 10,000 in Columbus; now they employ less people than a single Wal-Mart.