That house with the big tower near Third and Livingston in German Village doesn't look like anything else around it. It must have a story behind it.

That house with the big tower near Third and Livingston in German Village doesn't look like anything else around it. It must have a story behind it.

That's Schwartz's Castle. And while it's not a real castle, its original occupant was pretty quirky in keeping with castle tradition. Frederick W. Schwartz (spelling varies with the telling) was a successful pharmacist on Main Street, and as high achievers often do, he wanted a house that bespoke his position in life.

Around the mid-1880s, Schwartz built in the northern part of what became German Village (but was then just called the South End). His home was much taller than anything else around, and its projecting bay and octagonal tower with extra-tall windows and a scary exterior spiral stair put it in a class by itself.

The story was that Schwartz was soon jilted by his German fiancée and he went a little bonkers. Reports abounded of his long hair, barefoot walks year-round and nude sunbathing on the tower's roof. The house also has multiple basement levels, said to be Schwartz's laboratory space for pharmaceutical production.

But strange happenings continued after Schwartz passed on. There's a tale of murder attached to the place involving two brothers who had an argument that ended with one dispatching the other. In the early 20th century, it was temporarily used as a maternity hospital. The building housed apartments at one time, was converted into offices in the 1980s, and then was redone around 2008. The top floor condo has views you can't get anywhere else in German Village, especially from the kitchen that occupies the tower.

What are all those figures in the old Deaf School Park on East Town Street?

Ever wanted to step into a painting and look around inside? Welcome to the Topiary Park. Here, in shaped shrubbery and plantings, is Georges Seurat's famous Pointillist work "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." The original lives at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Our story dates from 1981, when the 1866 state deaf school, abandoned for years, accidentally caught fire, leaving only the 1899 education building and a lot of land. Then-Columbus Recreation and Parks Director Mel Dodge quickly acquired the whole property as a city park. The 1899 building went through several iterations and now is Cristo Rey Columbus High School.

In 1989 Jim and Elaine Mason, husband and wife artists, conceived the idea of rendering the Seurat painting in topiary. This involved digging a lake to represent the Seine and creating a hillside for the metal-armature figures-people, dog, monkey and all. The yew trees slowly grew up around the armatures and were regularly trimmed by city gardeners to take the forms of the painting's figures. From a high point on the east side of the composition, you can see a plaque with an image of Seurat's creation and match it with the topiaries. And then you can walk around to enjoy different parts of what's been called "a landscape of a painting of a landscape."

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to cityquotient@columbusmonthly.com.

Sources: Bill Arter, Columbus Vignettes; Betsy Pandora; Gary Pandora; Sarah Marsom, German Village Society; online sources; Columbus Recreation and Parks Department; www.topiarypark.org.