An unassuming brick building on the South Side is the No. 1 destination for tourists visiting Central Ohio.

There’s a long, narrow building at the corner of East Kossuth Street and South Washington Avenue, a couple of blocks west of Parsons Avenue on the South Side of Columbus. If you’ve ever driven by it, you probably didn’t notice it.

The concrete block on the building’s exterior is a dull gray-brown, stained black in spots, and the boarded windows are painted white. There’s no business sign, but next to a garage door there’s a small placard with a phone number and three words: “Open by Appointment.”

Since last summer, that nondescript building has been the No. 1 attraction in Columbus on TripAdvisor, beating out the travel website’s 120 other listings, including destinations like Ohio Stadium, Franklin Park Conservatory and Easton Town Center. “This is a must do for everyone in Columbus or visiting,” raved a visitor last month, awarding another 5 out of 5 rating to this secretly popular spot: the Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum.

Technically, the TripAdvisor listing is out of date. For the past year and a half, the museum’s official name has been the Wagner-Jaybird Auto Collection (more on that later). But you won’t find either name on the Experience Columbus website. In fact, until a recent phone call, reps from the city’s tourism bureau didn’t know the place existed.

Continue reading Joel Oliphant's cover story on Columbus Alive.