City Quotient: Why is the Ceiling at Mitchell's Downtown So Elaborately Decorated?
The ceiling at Mitchell's Steakhouse on Third Street Downtown is really high and elaborately decorated. What's the story behind that?
Not everybody looks upward to see such things, so we're glad you did. Mitchell's is a great blend of old and new-a well-designed contemporary dining space in a decorative historic interior. The building it occupies is actually at 85 E. Gay St., where you'll find the main entrance and a small but elegant lobby with lots of shiny brass. It was built in 1927 as the home of the Ohio State Savings Association; Mitchell's occupies the former banking hall, which explains the high ceiling and heavy decoration. The building got some buzz in the architectural press when it was built because it used a new cast exterior stone material called Litholite. It also was said to have the heaviest vault door in the city (banks like to brag about such things). This is one of several current and former historic banking halls in Downtown Columbus. Huntington Bank's at 17 S. High St. is still in use and is worth a look; others have been re-purposed. Having an impressive space like this was important for a bank's public image. When Mitchell's moved in, the owners were careful to leave the original character of the space intact while adding some compatible new design features, like the back-lit shelving in the bar area.
Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to email@example.com, and the answer might appear in a future column.