Behind Castle Walls
In Sessions Village, residents find European charm in the center of town.
Photos by RYAN M.L. YOUNG
Just off bustling Broad Street in Bexley sits a charmingly quaint European-inspired community bound by walls, which gives passers-by the impression that a castle lies behind the fortress-like stone enclosure.
Robert D. Loversidge, an architect and president of Schooley Caldwell Associates, has lived in Sessions Village for the past 17 years. As an architecture student at The Ohio State University, Loversidge studied Sessions Village and became fascinated with its diminutive charms.
“Think about the guts it took to build this place. There was nothing like it. Other developers have tried to emulate Sessions, but none have succeeded,” he says. He describes Sessions as a neighborhood accented by a mix of small and large homes “knit together like they would be in an authentic village.” He often takes walks through Sessions. “The details on the houses fascinate me year-round,” he says.
Robert R. Reeves, an architect who became enamored with the ambience of a French village after spending time in Europe, designed Sessions Village in the 1920s. Local developer Dwayne Fulton encouraged Reeves to build Sessions to emulate the European charms, replete with narrow cobbled streets, varied rooflines and a village center accented by a fountain.
The first occupants of Sessions Village, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, moved into the development in 1928. The community consists of a combination of attached and freestanding single-family homes. As a privately incorporated association within the city of Bexley, Sessions has been governed by its own set of bylaws overseen by a board of trustees since its inception.
“Every day I pulled into a European village without the jet lag,” says Lisa Cini of living in a home situated at the entrance of the small enclave. Cini, an interior decorator, along with husband Greg and their two children, moved into their stately, nearly 3,000-square-foot house in 2007, primarily because of its otherworldly charms.
Living in Sessions Village, just across from Wolfe Park, was attractive to the Cinis, who have since moved to accommodate extended family moving in with them.
“Anyone who asked us where we lived and we said Sessions knew exactly what our house looked like, as it is the ‘face of Sessions,’ ” she says.
While some might shy away from living in a house located on one of the busiest streets in town, the Cinis were not. In fact, Cini says the home’s location afforded her family “flexibility and privacy.”
Like the Cinis, Loversidge’s home also fronts East Broad Street. The family room sits above the brick archway at Sessions’ entryway, where it connects with the Cini abode. “We enjoy watching the comings and goings of our neighborhood,” he says.
It’s not just the residents of the quaint cluster of 28 French-style homes who are enamored with the neighborhood.
“Sessions Village is a wonderful amenity for the city of Bexley. It’s such an architecturally fantastic place. It’s the sort of community that is being emulated in premium modern residential development today, and yet it enjoys the authenticity and rich patina of a historic neighborhood,” says Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler. “In many ways, Sessions is a characterization of Bexley itself—unique, scaled to an approachable neighborhood level, architecturally surprising and inventive.”
Tami Kamin Meyer is a freelance writer in Bexley.