In 1959, The Nationwide Development Company bought a 245-acre tract of farmland from the Thomas Hislop family. At the time, Mr. Murray Lincoln was president of the Nationwide Insurance Company, parent company of Nationwide Development Company. In an article that ran in The Public Opinion on October 1, 1959, Mr. Lincoln “pointed out that when the new North-South freeway (I-71) is completed, it’s accessibility to Westerville will provide highly desirable home-sites.”
Mr. Lincoln, who also managed the development of Lincoln Village Model City west of Columbus on route 40, named the new development after his wife, the former Miss Anne Hurst.
The first building permits were issued in 1963. In 1964, a total of 500 acres west of Cleveland Avenue was annexed to the City of Westerville.
Did You Know… That Cleveland Avenue, back in the 1850’s, was known as Harbor Road. According to Ms. Beth Weinhardt, Local History Coordinator of the Westerville Public Library, the area where Alum Creek bends around and back just north of what is now Main Street, was a known hangout for cattle rustlers and crooks. They used to camp there and rob travelers. Because the area was known to harbor criminals, the road was known as Harbor Road. Now you know!
The Beginnings of Annehurst
“600 Home Development Announced As Nationwide Buys Part Of Hislop Farm,” is how the October 1, 1959 edition of the Westerville Public Opinion announced the birth of our neighborhood. It was the top headline. The news was the result of an announcement made by Mr. Murray D. Lincoln, president of the Nationwide Development Company. Mr. Lincoln had announced that his firm had purchased 245 acres of land (part of the Hislop Farm) for development. And although Mr. Lincoln’s firm had no immediate plans to develop the land, he was sure that when the new North-South freeway [I-71] was completed, it’s accessibility to Westerville would provide highly desirable home sites. The 245 acres covered land west of Alum Creek along park road and was bisected by Cleveland Avenue.
The land included part of what is now Annehurst Village and what is the commercial development at College View Drive (West Camp, Cable Express, Metler Toledo, etc.).
In 1959 prices were different. Some were way lower, but surprisingly, some were not that different, or even higher than today. You could purchase…
•5 lbs of sugar for 49 cents
•1 lbs of coffee for 69 cents
•A 100 count bottle of Chocks Vitamins (remember?) for $1.99
•A black & white 20 inch TV for $239
•A color 24 inch TV for $469
It would take over four years before building permits were issued for the first houses built in Annehurst Village. Somewhere between the October 1, 1959 announcement, and an article that ran in the Public Opinion on December 12, 1963, the neighborhood was christened Annehurst, after Mr. Lincoln’s wife, the former Miss Anne Hurst (in a future post we will detail Mr. Murray Lincoln’s personal story).
“Disclose Plans For Nationwide Community Here” – the December 12, 1963 Public Opinion article once again announced, on the front page, the coming of our neighborhood. “In making the announcement, the insurance executive [Mr. Lincoln] said that the new community would be known as Annehurst Village,” the paper wrote, providing the first news of the new name. The paper went on to say that the community would be “planned for homes in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.”
It was noted that Annehurst Village would overlook a big, beautiful lake that was to be included in the Metro Park being developed to the immediate south (Sharon Woods).
Editorial – The Public Opinion, Westerville, Ohio, December 12, 1963 – Page 4A
It doesn’t take a survey expert to determine that Westerville is growing by leaps and bounds. Anyone who has lived here even the past five years can testify to that fact… old timers can even give a more vivid picture of Westerville’s growth.
Announcement this past week that Annehurst Village development is upon us, gave us reason to believe that our growing pains are going to continue.
The 400 acre community located west of town at Cleveland Avenue and Park Road is being designed for homes in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. It is designed to fit into our community. Special architecture specifications are included in the plans; off-street parking provided; ample recreation areas; and what especially appeals is the fact that Nationwide has set aside 12 acres with the intention of donating it to the Westerville City School Board for a school site.
Westerville is fortunate to have a housing area with such detailed planning, such high level standards, and which really takes the community into consideration as this one apparently does.
We’ve seen towns literally bursting at the seams and other towns that have had a housing boom without planning. Westerville also has had its share of problems with development, but in comparison with some other cities we have a lot to be thankful for in that developers have taken the future of our community into consideration.
Yes we’re growing, like any other small town, but our growth has followed a pattern and has been subjected to planning — and we’re thankful.
We welcome with open arms the new Nationwide development. We feel it will be a worthwhile addition to Westerville. It will be good for business; it will be good for our churches; our schools will grow because of it. All-in-all we think Westerville will be a better place in which to live because of Annehurst Village.”
Life in Annehurst
The issues facing the people of Annehurst in the early years were surprisingly similar to today. The three main stories that appeared over and over in issue after issue of the Public Opinion were:
•Rising school population
•Managing Westerville’s growth.
Back then, the North-South freeway, which is what I-71 was called, was still under construction. There was a movement to put an interchange at I-71 and Park Road. Can you imagine what that would have been like!
There were plenty of discussions that Westerville High School (now Westerville South) was getting over crowded! Our kids today would find it amazing that this was a concern back when the whole school had less students than the Freshman Class does today.
Many articles ran detailing the arguments being made in the day for and against incorporating new land into the city. Although in that day the lands in question were mostly to the south of Westerville. Headlines from 1963 look a lot like headlines from today.
On November 26th, 1964, the Public Opinion ran a lead story about Columbia Gas’ plans to bring natural gas to Annehurst. Progress was the story of the times. But not every story appearing in the paper was about new technological marvels and economic expansion. Back then the Public Opinion ran a regular article called Life In Westerville. It was written by Sylvia Garvie, and on December 15, 1966 she wrote about the beginnings of the IU (Ideas Unlimited) groups in Annehurst…
“A small group of ladies from Storington and Old Coach Road have gotten together and formed Ideas Unlimited (IU). The purpose is to promote friendship, share ideas and participate in charitable projects. They meet once a month without any set schedule as to date and time. Their first meeting was in October where they gathered at the Belknap home and shared ideas for Halloween. The meeting in November was held at the home of Ruth Green with all members bringing food ideas for Thanksgiving.
Members are: Maureen and Dennis Belknap, Susan and Don Burt, Clarence and Maurie Lou Dagnall, Roger and Jane Goeller, Chuck and Ruth Green, Bob and Virginia Harms, Ron and Barbara Henning, Jim and Adelle Ponticello, Ray and Shirley Silver, Rick and Doris Smith, June and Sandy Hepps, Don and Delores Nelson. Barbara Henning serves a Chair, while Maureen Belknap serves as Co-Chair.”