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How the First Doctor in Columbus, Ohio Founded the First City Park
A Hospital Leads to a Famous Park
An acquaintance at OhioHealth asked why one of the hospital campus streets is named "White Cross Way." I explained that I was born at White Cross Hospital in Goodale Park, the facility moved north, became Riverside Methodist Hospital, and then the anchor of the OhioHealth System.
Before it was White Cross, it was the small Methodist-affiliated Protestant Hospital (1891 - 1957), to distinguish it from the only other Columbus hospital, which was operated by the Catholic diocese. Goodale Park was named for the first doctor in Columbus, Lincoln Goodale, who donated the land while working on the west side of town and at the Catholic facility on the Near East Side.
The idea of the modern park began with the formation of three urban parks: Lafayette Park in St. Louis, a park near the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and Goodale Park in Columbus.— WOSU's "Columbus Neighborhoods" - Short North
Goodale Park initially included a stone east gate and smaller side gates, a horse stable, additional animal sheds, a gazebo, a large stone gate at the south entrance, and a sculpted bust of the founder atop a pedestal at that gate.
In 1892, a pagoda-style gate was installed on the north side on Buttles Avenue, sculpted with character faces from Shakespearean plays.
Inside the gates, children could ride on swing sets near a large pond maintained at the northeast sector, where White Cross Hospital was built. A large fountain was added later and in the 2000s, the pond was drained and reconstructed for cleanliness. Picnickers have always always welcomed.
In the year 1900, a male "kissing bandit" lived bear the park and walked to and from work nearby. He had the hobby of quickly hugging women passersby and running off down Park Street. Enough women complained that he was arrested and fined, but released.
Source: "On this Day in Columbus", by Tom Betti and Doreen Sauer
Goodale Park Landmarks Reference Map
The famous Reverend Billy Sunday operated a tabernacle here on Park Street from 1903 to 1935.
This historic house is near to the old site of Protestant Hospital at 777 Dennison.
Northern border of Flytown.
The Sells Brothers Circus was headquartered in the Columbus neighborhood called Sellsville and Peter Sells built a mansion across the street from the west side of Goodale Park. He likely provided the animals for the park's popular menagerie attraction. The Columbus Zoo was founded later 13 miles north on High Street, which was countryside farmland at that time.
Lincoln Goodale served as a pallbearer for President Abraham Lincoln when the casket arrived by train to repose in state at Capitol Square in 1865.
The doctor offered medical services from his home in Franklinton, just west of today's Scioto Mile Park Complex in Columbus. He also worked in the Catholic clinic just nine blocks away from his home: St. Francis Hospital and Starling Medical College (founded 1847). This was the first teaching hospital in the country.
Goodale soon became a trustee of the facility, which became Grant Hospital and Nursing School, now also a part of Ohio Health. Starling Medical College joined with four other such schools to become The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Riverside Methodist Hospital displayed a large lighted white cross on its rooftop in North Columbus near the Olentangy River until the 1980s. That era brought a planned reconstruction and expansion, with the addition of several new wings and annexes.
Today, the hospital complex is like a busy city!
OhioHealth is a nonprofit heathcare system that treats everyone with respect and high quality care. This service follows closely in the footsteps of Dr. Lincoln Goodale and he would be proud to witness the care positive results.
Before the American Civil War, Columbus had only two small hospitals, three doctors, and few nurses. The physicians persuaded the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis to move to Columbus to become caregivers at the beginning of the war (Please see the map below).
A Resort Park Becomes a Community
Dr. Lincoln Goodale (1782-1868) provided free medical services to American troops during the War of 1812. In the American Civil War, he donated services to both Union and Confederate soldiers at Camp Chase, just west of his Franklinton home. He also continued to donate services to the poor, using his income from large real estate deals and his general store, which the first in the state to stock medical supplies.
In 1851, the kind physician donated approximately 35 acres 1.5 miles north of Capitol Square for a park and tourist resort, the only outdoor recreation facility within in several counties.
The park opened with a large enclosed brick shelter house that is now on the list of National Historic Places. Goodale and the founder of the famous Neil House Hotel downtown sponsored 60-foot-wide streets on the east and south borders of the park to ensure easy access by horse carriage.
The park temporarily became a blighted high-crime area in the 1970s, but redevelopment happened quickly. Under several mayors, Goodale Park became a showplace where the annual Community Festival (ComFest) and the Independence Day Doo Dah Parade provide fun for everyone just 14 blocks from the Ohio Statehouse in the Short North. The idea below was captured with a drone's camera.
First Multicultural Community
Most Ohio cities in the late 1800s and early 1900s were not melting pots, but pockets of enclaves of people from other countries. Columbus was different - immigrants used to immediately move into the neighborhood just south of the park.
The area welcomed almost 20 different nationalities at once into what was nicknamed "Flytown" and had no ghettos of ethnic cultures - people of different countries lived next door to each other and were happy. People seemed to come from everywhere and fly in like a huge flock of birds to settle the area.
Old North Market Diversity
Flytown quickly developed diverse businesses that included restaurants serving the foods from the "old countries." This helped to give rise to the diversity at the open air Old North Market that circled four blocks downtown beginning in 1876 and is now located south on Neil Avenue a few blocks from the park.
I remember seeing farmers and vendors of at least a dozen cultures there in the 1960s, from affable fishmongers to kind Gypsy fruit vendors. Today's market under roof is still diverse, but directly in the area that was Flytown.
Native North Americans
It is generally forgotten that Native Americans lived in Columbus then as well. A few of the indigenous people are scattered throughout the city today and operate the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio.
This bus station is the center of four square blocks that made up the indoor and outdoor Columbus Market until the 1980s.
- Lee, A.E., History of the City of Columbus; 1892.
- Columbus Landmarks Foundation. Nomination of Columbus Architecture for Status of National Historic Places; 1979. geocities.ws/nnhist_dist/nomination.html Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Correspondence of Hugh McCaskey Inglish II (1870 - 1959).
- Correspondence of Harry Taylor (1890 - 1945).
- Randall, Beverly. Dr. Lincoln Goodale and His Living Legacy. Short North Gazette; 12/2006. shortnorth.com/GoodaleSeries/LincolnGoodaleOne.htmlRetrieved May 20, 2017.
- The Ohio State University Library; library.osu.edu/blogs/mhcb/2012/10/05/protestantwhite-crossriverside-methodist-hospitals/ Retrieved May 19, 2017.
© 2017 Patty Inglish