City Quotient: What's the Status of a Vacant Downtown Landmark?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The former Central Presbyterian Church has been vacant for a couple of years. What's going to happen to that Downtown building?

First Presbyterian Church was established in Franklinton in 1806. In 1836, some of its members formed Second Presbyterian and moved across the Scioto, occupying several different Downtown spaces until dedicating the new Second Presbyterian Church in 1859. Known today as Central Presbyterian, it's one of our oldest churches, with lofty towers and massive stone walls, making it a great example of the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. The larger of the two towers originally had a spire nearly 200 feet tall, but an 1887 windstorm brought it down, so the shortened tower was capped with the current roof structure. The interior has a high arched ceiling, curved wood beams, tall windows and side balconies. Since buying the building in 2013, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) has done repairs to stabilize it and keep it in sound condition. It's not in regular use, though Opera Columbus has done some performances to test the acoustics, and the impressive organ is in good shape. CAPA sees the church as filling a gap in its performance venues: It'll be an intimate recital hall suited for small ensembles and individual artists and able to seat an audience of 300 to 400. CAPA has some projects underway at the Ohio Theatre and other properties, but they estimate a renovation of the church could start in two to three years. Stay tuned.

Sources: Central Presbyterian Church: Architecture: Columbus, Chad Whittington, CAPA

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