Local author Bob Hunter uncovers forgotten Columbus locales
Tessa Berg Photos
Bob Hunter’s covered sports at The Columbus Dispatch since 1975 but bares his history-buff heart again in his eighth book. “A Historical Guidebook to Old Columbus” ($28.95, Ohio University Press) shares stories behind roughly 450 city-shaping addresses—including folk artist Elijah Pierce’s Downtown barbershop and the South Side house where Eddie Rickenbacker grew up (with a backyard goat herd). Hunter shares what prompted this new local look back.
What inspired a history book on Columbus?
I did this book on Chic Harley, “Chic,” in 2008. All the principal people in this book were dead, so I had to kind of research around it. A lot of people told me they liked the local history part of that book as much as they did the football part of it.
Why organize it around specific places in different neighborhoods?
Back in the early ’90s, I saw this book. It was called “On the Spot,” and it was about Washington, D.C. It had all these pictures, and it talked about all these different places in Washington, which I thought was kind of fascinating.
Was it nice having more space than a newspaper column?
Part of the attraction is being able to write as long as you want—even though that’s not totally true, because your publisher isn’t going to just let you go on and on. But, yeah, you can have a little more freedom. I could do like 200 more of these listings. (Columbus) is not quite as vanilla as people think.
Did you find any unusual stories in your research?
The Schwartz Castle, which has got a million stories about it. There’s no question (Frederich Schwartz) was a little bit wacky. There’s all these reasons of why. He was going to get married, and his fiance left him at the altar. One of them was that he was distraught over Cleveland losing the presidential election. You don’t know where it goes from, “Yeah, he was a little nuts,” to kids making up stories about (how) he used to sunbathe nude.
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