Upper Arlington plans celebrations to commemorate cenntennial

by Sammy Bonasso ’20

Attentive residents likely know that Upper Arlingtonian has been celebrating its centennial this year. The city has already hung banners on light posts, nicknamed Northwest Boulevard “Centennial Boulevard” and placed a bear on the Kingsdale water tower with “1918-2018” written under it. It has also constructed a centennial plaza and history walk at Northam Park and releasing books to celebrate the event.

These levels of passion cause many, even UA residents, to wonder what aspects of the community deserve such celebration. The official centennial website claims the city is celebrating “[location], excellent schools, beautiful neighborhoods, a unique sense of community and pride [and] an exquisite natural environment” and not just a century of existence.

A History Lesson

On Christmas Eve of 1913, King and Ben Thompson of Georgetown, Ohio purchased 840 acres of country estate near the Scioto River from Henry and Almeda Miller, who purchased it as a promise to their son for recovering from typhoid fever. King soon began transforming this partially-wooded farmland to 2,500 lots. The design provided sprawling spaces, wide streets, and a few acres for offices and shops, but no plans for industrial areas.

Evidently, the community has expanded since then, with additions such as a municipal building in 1929, two annexations in the 1950s, Fire Station 71 in 1972 and most recently Sunny 95 Park in 2010.

Grand Festivities

Much of the $300,000 in donations from UA civic groups and private individuals has gone to the Legacy Projects Committee chaired by Charlie Groezinger.

“The legacy projects are [those that will remain] after the centennial year is over,” Groezinger said. “That includes the new history book, trees being planted, [the] history walk and the centennial plaza, [and the water tower].”

Northam Park, chosen for its accessibility and frequent community gatherings, will receive the largest celebrations: the Centennial Plaza and History Walk. The community will unveil these on the Fourth of July.

The History Walk will lay upon the main walkway from Tremont Road and include ten markers highlighting retail, government, libraries, schools and Ben and King Thompson, and there will be an additional marker for the centennial itself.

The centennial website includes a conceptual photo of the Centennial Plaza. Photo courtesy uaoh100.org.

The plaza will have a rubberized centerpiece with three bronze bears on it created by local artist Alan Hamwi. Tables and seating will surround the bears to enable citizens to congregate at the plaza.

UA also will prepare a hermetically-sealed time capsule to be opened in 100 years. It will include the Centennial Magazine, history book, photographs, news stories and community contributions that can be proposed through the centennial website, uaoh100.org.

The steering committee, headed by Richard Simpson, has overseen the ideas generated over three years of planning, including for the time capsule popularized by other communities.

“[The city is] going to put things in it that will reflect what life is like in Upper Arlington today, and then, when it’s opened [at the] bicentennial in the year 2118, people will say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what life was like 100 years ago,’” Simpson said.

Something Worth Celebrating

Sophomore Seiji Kawakami noticed on his own the water tower and street sign celebrations, and he also wishes to read the book, 100: A Cherished Past, a Golden Future, and visit the history walk to learn more about the community. He recommended placing a photo or piece of the old high school in the time capsule.

“[Celebrating] shows how far the city has come in 100 years and also helps people build pride in the community, which will help them move forward in the future,” Kawakami said.

Simpson attributed emphases on education, family, civic engagement and volunteerism to the community as values reinforced by observing the centennial.

“The centennial is an opportunity to say [these values] are all important things,” Simpson said. “If we don’t take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to those values in a public way, those values tend to be forgotten over time.”