City Quotient: What's the History Behind Goodale Park's Fish Gate?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

I heard Goodale Park was once home to a small zoo. Is there any truth to that legend, and does it bear any connection to the images of animals on the Fish Gate at Buttles and Dennison?

Goodale Park was the 1851 gift of Dr. Lincoln Goodale, a Massachusetts native, Franklinton settler, and the county's first physician. Outside the city at the time, the park was absorbed by Columbus and became surrounded by homes. And, yes, the park was home to a mini-zoo or menagerie. The menagerie was created in 1873 by the park caretaker, apparently to keep up with Schiller Park (then called City Park), which had its own animal collection. Black bears, wolves, rabbits and foxes were on display. One citizen donated four squirrels. By 1888, apparently only an eagle was left, and the little zoo closed that year, though the cages stood for a while longer.

As for the pagoda-style Fish Gate, it is not related to fish or fowl. William Fish, owner of Fish Stone Co., donated it in 1899. The gate was designed by Isabel Terrell, who lived nearby, and was built of the same materials as Fish's 1890 house diagonally across from the gate. The Friends of Goodale Park recently oversaw a restoration of the gate, including a new tile roof like the original. An artist was commissioned to create new red sandstone carvings to replace original but eroded animal figures and eight human faces depicting the Seven Ages of Man (the eighth is Dr. Goodale). You can still see animals in Goodale Park-stop by artist Malcolm Cochran's elephant fountain, inspired by the Sells house (the circus family) just west of the gate.

Sources: Local historian Terry Sherburn, Short North Gazette, online sources

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to, and the answer might appear in a future column.