Schiller Park Part I (German Village)
Flat Stanley here in Schiller Park, previously known as Washington Park, and City Park. Schiller Park a large old park has more then grass and trees. Bordered by City Park Avenue, East Deshler, Reinhard Avenue, and Jaeger Street it's a well known spot in German Village in Columbus, Ohio.
The site of family picnics, Shakespeare in the park, large beautiful old trees to sit under and watch the kids and the dogs frolic about, or nap while others fish. This park is active, beautiful and very historical. It's been the place to be, the place to avoid, and happily again the place to be.
Historically it was a place for concerts, for festivals including German Songfests, holidays like The 4th of July. It's even been the spot for The State of Ohio Fair in 1864 and 1865, the Civil War Years. In 1871 it was the place to celebrate the end of The Franco-Prussian War with a Peace Celebration.
A busy, productive and active German-American Community thrived here. Originally the area was called Stewarts Grove. Land purchased here by the city in 1867 was named City Park. Later, on July 4th, 1891 a 25 foot statue of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller arrived from Munich and was dedicated, and thus the park was renamed to Schiller Park.
Schiller was a renowned poet among other things. Many feel his contributions are only surpassed by Shakespeare.
Anti German sentiment was at a fever pitch after WWI, and the parks name was changed once again to Washington Park. The sentiment against Germany, and German people was high. Lusitania was sunk with women and children on it by The Germans. Innocent women and children were killed/murdered and this point was hammered home. German language classed could no longer be taught. Once popular German singing societies suffered. Street names in the area with German names were changed. Books written in German were burned and banned. Books were burned here in Schiller Park at the base of this beautiful statue, as well on Broad Street in downtown Columbus in 1918. According to some accounts I read German Shepherds, and Dachsunds were taken from their owners and destroyed. Nothing German was to be honored or liked. However, one of this countries biggest hero's came from this very German-American Community, flying ace Eddie Richenbacher; who like many German-Americans at the time changed his name to be less German looking and sounding. Eddie Richenbacher became Eddie Rickenbacher.
It wasn't until 1930, the park's name once again returned to Schiller Park.
**Stay tuned for a follow up article on Schiller Park, as this area has a very rich history**
The next time you're in a park, look to see if there's a history, you might be fascinated at what you learn.