Over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, my dog Gracie and I explored the National Road all the way across Ohio. That road is now US 40 in most places. I’m bringing the long trip report over from my old Roads site.

Bexley is a small town completely surrounded by Columbus. The road is nicely tree-lined in Bexley; it is clearly a very nice part of greater Columbus.

Beautiful Downtown Bexley

One of Bexley’s best-known places, at least among those present on the National Road, is Rubino’s Pizza. It’s been in operation since 1954.


Here’s a better shot of its great sign.


The 1932 Christ Lutheran Church is nearby.

Christ Lutheran Church

I’m told that the Drexel Theater is considered a local landmark. It certainly has a wonderful sign, which along with the building dates to the 1930s.

Drexel Theater

I stayed on Main Street, of course, past where US 40 turned away. Past Beckley, the character of the road and its environs changes quickly.

Railroad overpass

US 40 turns north on Drexel Avenue and then left on Broad Street. The National Road keeps going on Main Street through downtown until it crosses the Scioto River, where it curves around on Starling Street and then turns left onto Broad Street, rejoining US 40. This map shows the National Road in green and how US 40 differs from it in blue.

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service. Map data © 2012 Google.

As I neared downtown I became impressed by how many older buildings have been well preserved. I wish my town, Indianapolis, had the same preservationist spirit.

Downtown Columbus on Main St.

Main Street is one way eastbound downtown, and I was headed west, so I parked my car and walked. This building features the familar script of the Ford Motor Company logo. It’s in the triangle with wings at the top center of the building’s facade. I’m guessing this was once a Ford dealership, but when I took this photo it was home to the Karlsberger Company, an architectural firm. Less than 30 days after I took this photo, Karlsberger ceased operations.

Ford building

I spotted this ghost sign on a building just down the block from the Ford building.

Lutheran Book Concern

As I neared High Street, which is Columbus’s east-west dividing line, I was drawn to this wonderful ornate archway and sign.

Southern Theatre

Check out this detail! I probably spent 20 minutes here enjoying and photographing this great arch.

Southern Theatre

The Southern Theatre is part of the enormous Great Southern Hotel, which was completed in 1896. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a Westin property today. As massive as the Southern Theatre’s arch is when you stand before it, the building to which it is attached overwhelms it.

Great Southern Hotel

The front entrance is on High Street.

Great Southern Hotel

I continued westward toward the Scioto River. This building, which I believe was once an armory, stands on the southwest corner at Second Street.

Downtown Columbus on Main St.

This ornate eagle and shield on the corner once adorned the battleship USS Ohio.

Downtown Columbus on Main St.

Next: Crossing the Scioto River and leaving Columbus.

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10 responses to “The National Road in Ohio: Bexley and downtown Columbus”

  1. Peter Miller Avatar
    Peter Miller

    Lived in Columbus, 1973 to 1978 and again 1980 to 1983. Used to ride downtown on my bike when I was younger and more foolish. Bexley was and is a jewel. Loved your pictures triggering the memories!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Bexley struck me as the high-rent district and carefully curated. Not that it’s not charming!

  2. Suzassippi Avatar

    Wow, what a beautiful place! The buildings are incredible and you certainly did them justice.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, there’s a lot of beauty along Main Street in C’bus!

  3. Jane Herr Avatar
    Jane Herr

    One of your best “Down the Road” pieces! I agree Indy could have done a better job of preservation.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! Indy at least is better about it now.

  4. Jerome Avatar

    In the 70s, the Southern Theater had all-day movies from 12 until 11 PM on Saturdays. Admission was something like 1.50 and four movies were shown in rotation throughout the day. The place was packed with teens every Saturday. My friends and I saw every badly dubbed kung fu movie ever made.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a terrific memory! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Joe from The Resurrected Camera Avatar

    My mom had friends who lived in Bexley, went there occasionally myself. Definitely saw some movies at the Drexel back in the day. Incidentally, Meek’s Cutoff is a fantastic film. I have the DVD but the chance to see it on the big screen…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s a film? I figured it was a play! Tells you what I know.

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