The Zimmerman Family & the Olympic Swim Club

June 1st, 2016

Libby Wetherholt recently gave this presentation about the Zimmerman family to the Clintonville Historical Society, and has kindly agreed to share it with us.

The Zimmerman Family and Olympic Swim Club
by Libby Weatherholt, March 8, 2016

The History of the Olympic Swim Club starts with Orr Samuel Zimmerman. (Photo courtesy of the Upper Arlington Historical Society)

Orr S. Zimmerman was born in Oakwood, Ohio in 1890 but moved to Columbus with his family when he was a child. He was educated in engineering at Ohio University and transferred his interest in mechanics to a career in the family automobile business.

In 1913, Zimmerman married Ethyle Cather, a native of Athens, Ohio. They moved to this house at 645 Dennison. (Photo courtesy of the Franklin County Auditor’s web site, property ID 010-044708 4/27/2014)

By 1916 the Zimmermans had begun building the house below at 1790 Cambridge Boulevard. (Photo courtesy of the Franklin County Auditor’s web site, property ID 070-000571 4/18/2014)

An historical picture can also be found on the Upper Arlington Historical Society web site.

The birth of their sons Robert Orr Zimmerman and Richard S. Zimmerman followed in 1918 and 1922, respectively.

By 1930, Audrey Ethyle Zimmerman had passed away and Orr had married Alice M. Zimmerman. The family had moved to 4497 Olentangy River Road—a house that remained an important part of the family history. (Photo courtesy of the Franklin County Auditor’s web site, property ID 010-006577 3/17/2014)

Zimmerman built the house in 1929 on what was then a 52-acre estate; at the time, Henderson was a country gravel road and Olentangy a narrow two-lane street. The architect was Thomas Tulley. Interior walls were decorated by a New York artist, with beautiful wooded scenes in both the trophy room and the living room. Two Canadian bear cubs, captured on a hunting trip, were raised in a small house on the property. In 1977 the house was a Decorators’ Show House. The house was destroyed in January, 2016.

Mr. Zimmerman had a special interest in outdoor sports, particularly hunting and fishing. Zimmerman’s hunting expedition in the Canadian Rockies with Upper Arlington founder and resident Ben Thompson was detailed in a November 1920 issue of the Norwester, complete with descriptions of the large game seen and hunted by the pair in British Columbia. Zimmerman submitted his own account of the trip to the Norwester, documenting the geography and vegetation of the region. (The Norwester magazine, published November 1917 through March 1922, chronicled early suburban life in the Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, and Marble Cliff areas.)

Zimmerman also enjoyed pitching horseshoes and playing baseball. In 1920, he served as captain of the Upper Arlington “Lobsters” who battled the rival “Crabs” in the village baseball tournament. Mr. Zimmerman personally donated the “Zimmerman Cup,” the trophy awarded to the winning baseball team. He was also a member of the Upper Arlington Fishing Club and the president of the Upper Arlington Gymnasium Club, which oversaw the organization of indoor sports such as hand ball and volley ball. He was active in the Kiwanis and Athletic Clubs, and served as director of the Columbus Auto Trade Association.

The 1915 City Directory documents that Orr S. Zimmerman and Walter B. Charles owned Ohio Auto Sales Co. at 772-774-776 North High Street.

On June 30, 1941, Thomas Tully and Orr Zimmerman filed for a patent titled Means for producing formed strips of plastic materials, US 2323862 A. The patent was granted on July 6, 1943.

Richard Zimmerman married Dorothy Rupp, his high school sweetheart. They were parents of three children: Lynda, Ric, and Dan

Richard S. Zimmerman and his father, Orr Zimmerman, purchased the Olympic Beach from Frank Hauf in 1938, the same year it was built. The pool remained under ownership by members of the family until it closed in 2014.

Newt Jones, one of Richard’s grandchildren, purchased the Olympic Swim Club from his grandfather for $325,000 in 2002. Richard died shortly after on October 23, 2002 at the age of 81.

In 2014, Columbus Monthly Magazine staff picked Olympic Swim Pool as Columbus’ “best pool for athletes”:

For athletes: Olympic Swim Club
Built in 1938 and originally known as Olympic Beach, the Olympic Swim Club is a Columbus classic. Ohio State divers and swimmers practiced here in the ’70s and ’80s. Even Buckeyes football players would spend their off days at the club. After 76 summers, though, this is the Olympic’s last. “It was a business decision, but a very emotional and very sad one,” says third-generation owner Newt Jones, who has owned the Olympic for the past 13 years. Don’t miss your last chance to dive off the club’s rare 16-foot diving platform and experience a piece of Columbus history firsthand. “We just want people to come out for the last summer and enjoy it,” Jones says.

The following item comes from Shirley Hyatt’s Clintonville History web site:

Will You Swim in Pure Water? I love this ad for Olympic Beach in 1939. “Of interest to the ‘bathers’ of Northern Columbus is the care and precaution the management of the Olympic Pool is taking so that our families may swim in perfectly safe water, free from impurities and its dangers…“ Shortly after the pool was built, the Olympic Amusement Corporation, headed by Orr Zimmerman, assumed ownership of the pool. For many years the O.S.U. swimming and diving teams practiced there and many contestants for the summer Olympics came from all over the United States to train at the pool. Several national championships have been held there. Early on, only male lifeguards worked at the pool.

Here, someone does a kamikaze dive off the tallest tower. (Photos courtesy of the Zimmerman family)

One of the early reasons for Olympic Pool’s notoriety and draw was its double platform diving board and its dive pool. The double platform survived into the 1990s, at which time the higher platform was removed.

The following images are from the Olympic Swim Club’s Facebook page.

Plat of Old Beechwold

May 1st, 2016

Wendy Bayer sent us this wonderful plat map of Old Beechwold. Plats are maps, usually drawn to scale, of the subdivisions of a piece of land. with lot numbers. [Map courtesy of Franklin County Records via Wendy Bayer]

And More Markers!

April 1st, 2016

Ron Irick recently alerted me to the Historic Marker Data Base. In it are photographs of several additional markers covering Clintonville’s notable people, places and events. The database includes the marker for Rand Hollenback, on Hollenback Drive at Whetstone Park, the Nat’l Register of Historic Places marker for East North Broadway Historic District, and the marker (currently in Powell) for the Grand Carousel which was formerly at Olentangy Olentangy Park.

Ron recently posted the Clinton Township/Clintonville Historic Marker.

Though not in this database, there is also a marker for the Old Beechwold Historical District. I believe there is also some sort of marker for the former home of the Republican Glee Club at 57 Weber Road.

Signs of More [Historical] Things to Come

March 30th, 2016

Kevin Parks has written a very nice article about Clintonville Historical Society’s new Historical Markers program in the March 22, 2016 issue of This Week/The Booster

Despite his lead sentence, full credit for the program belongs to Mary Rodgers, not me! Mary has done a superb job of harnessing Clintonville’s community energy to get things done, history-wise, in the neighborhood. Thanks, Mary!

And thanks, Kevin, for publicizing this program.

[My post on the topic of markers–the one to which Kevin refers in his article– can be found here. I have recently revised & updated that post.]

Arcadia Ave. Apartments

March 15th, 2016

I love this picture of the Arcadia Ave. Apartments, located at 73-93 Arcadia Avenue. The building still exists. When they were first advertised, they were described as a two-story brick building of Georgian type, housing up to 8 families. Each apartment consists of a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor, to bedrooms and bath on the second, and a basement laundry. The building was constructed by Galbreath and Leonard, Inc. in 1927. [Image courtesy of Stu Koblentz.]


February 15th, 2016

In November, 1977, the Klu Klux Klan held a rally in Columbus, and met at at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge, which stood on High Street across from Graceland Shopping Center. I’m glad for freedom of speech, sad and mad for what that speech consists of.

A. B. Graham House

January 15th, 2016

A. B. Graham (Albert Belmont Graham) was one of the key founders of the 4-H Club, and was also a leader in developing the nation’s county extension services that are still so helpful to farmers and gardeners and cooks. In his retirement years Mr. Graham lived at 159 Clinton Heights Avenue in Clintonville. (His son lived in Clintonville as well.) The Clinton Heights house is the last surviving house known to be associated with Mr. Graham, and on this basis the house has recently been put on the Register of Historic Places.

You can find more information elsewhere on this web site

Newspaper Boys

December 11th, 2015

Bob Henry (North High School Class of 1957) was kind enough to share this photograph of himself in the days when he was a Columbus Dispatch carrier.

The Dispatch sub-station he was posted from was located in the alley behind the Clinton Theater on High Street. This picture was taken circa 1950 and shows a bunch of Dispatch carriers in front of the station. Earl McBlain, shown in the doorway, was the station manager. From Bob:

In those days, the carriers, ages 10 to 15, would ride their bikes to the station after school, where Earl would count out our papers to us. The station had a bench along the walls, which we used to fold and bag our papers. In the center of the room was a pot-belly stove that burned yesterdays papers to keep us warm in the winter. Once we had bagged our papers, we rode to our routes throughout Clintonville. Mine was on West Dunedin, along Olentangy Blvd, Winthrop and Weston Place, about 70 houses. Carrying papers took a couple of hours each day, including Sat and Sun morning; on Thurs, and Fri nights we collected money from each house on the route, which required another couple of hours. I believe the cost was 40 cents per week for a seven-day subscription. The Weds Star cost another 15 cents. When my mom learned I was carrying the Star, which was a risqué paper in those days, she called Earl to complain, but he could not do anything about it.

On Saturdays before noon we had to go to the station to pay our paper bill of about $20 and kept the rest, about $8.

[Photo courtesy of Bob Henry]

Defense Center

November 11th, 2015

At a presentation I gave on the History of Clintonville, someone handed my husband this news item about the opening of the Defense Center in a former filling station at 4070 North High Street at the corner of Glenmont and North High Street in 1942.

The Clintonville Community Council, a group of members representing every organization in Clintonville, sponsored the center. It was to be a center for air raid services, a headquarters for Boy Scouts, a Red Cross distribution point, a center for salvage collection, a precinct station for auxiliary police and eventually a USO clubroom. It included a first aid corner, and a canteen offering coffee and cookies.

In this picture, Mrs. William McCoy, Marilyn Peters, and Joe Miller are getting the place ready.

There is another photo here.

Underground Railroad in Clintonville

October 15th, 2015

Debbie Shaw, retired CML librarian, recently provided some local resources about the Underground Railrooad in Clintonville and surrounding area. Thanks for agreeing to share this information, Debbie!

Here’s Debbie’s summary:

    This link has a short video as well as text below it from WOSU’s Columbus Neighborhood series on Clintonville; both discuss the Underground Railroad.

    and this video from the same series on Downtown/Franklinton shows another area involved in the Underground Railroad here in Columbus.

    This link is from the Clintonville History site by Shirley Hyatt. The October 2008 issue discusses Thomas Bull and his family and includes a brief section about the Underground Railroad. [Shirley adds: see my book Clintonville and Beechwold here (to buy it) or here (to borrow it) for a smidgen more information.]

    Article from the OSU Lantern Feb. 7, 1999.

    Historic Marker on OSU Campus.

    Another historical marker.

    Excerpt from the book The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places and Operations by Mary Ellen Snodgrass.

    For a broader look at the Underground Railroad in Ohio, you can read the full text draft of The Mysteries of Ohio’s Underground Railroad by Wilbur H. Siebert here.

    And of course, the Columbus Metropolitan Library has a lot of this history. Right now during Main Library’s renovation, Local History & Genealogy services are available at a temporary location in the former Whitehall Branch at 4371 E. Broad Street. CML’s web site says to call (614) 645-2275 to learn more. You can still get to a lot online at the here.

Debbie also notes, “This material was easily Googled. As a former librarian, I know that there is a lot of info that is not online. By the way, if you do an advanced book search on and limit to full text only and content = books, there are quite a few. I put underground railroad in the ‘with the exact phrase’ field and Ohio underground railroad in the ‘with all of the words’ field. Laws, history, etc. come up, including Ohio Before 1850 and Ohio History Sketches. Of course, some of it is a very brief part of the book. If you add Ohio into the search’s ‘subject’ field, this narrows it a lot.”

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