|By Susan Emerson Nutter
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For close to 65 years, Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers has operated its highly successful auction and appraisal services from a Delaware, Ohio, location lovingly referred to as “the Barn at Stratford.” This has been the company headquarters since 1954. Come January 2019, the organization will have new “old” digs in downtown Columbus in the historic Municipal Light Plant that is currently at the end of an extensive renovation.
“Through the exciting move to our downtown Columbus location, we look forward to delivering a state-of-the-art auction experience, in a historic venue, with greater accessibility to both our gallery and offices, as well as the wonderful objects we handle,” Garths reported.
The decision driving Garth’s search for a new location was two-fold. They wanted a facility that would “evoke just a bit of the heartfelt emotion associated with the beloved Barn at Stratford, and the choice needed to help us solidify the next 60 years for both the company and our clients.”
The circa 1895 Municipal Light Plant; the brick-built, first power plant for the city of Columbus, was just that place. In his article “History of Municipal Light Plant,” writer Ed Lentz explains, “After its construction in 1903, the Columbus Municipal Light Plant provided power to many streetlights as well as other homes and businesses in the downtown Columbus area. The Municipal Light Plant continued to give power to its customers and clients until 1977, when the city decided to buy electric power for its customers rather than produce its own.”
The plant sat empty and unused for decades; it’s saving’s grace being its location — away from the central downtown area and not in the way of redevelopment projects. Fast forward to 2016 and the revitalization of Columbus’ Arena District. Developers recognized the Light Plant’s significance and potential; that it was in need of rescuing, and then found some funds to do so.
In 2016, developer Brad DeHays was awarded a $2 million state tax credit (Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit) to rehabilitate the 113 year old Municipal Light Plant with the plan to make it into one of the city’s most remarkable office environments. He saw beyond what many couldn’t get past – the beauty of this historic structure that was drowning in debris.
Despite its condition; or maybe because of, upon hearing the news of the Light Plant’s restoration, many local historic associations could not have been more excited. In August of 2017, Columbus Landmarks feted an affair to show-off the on-going restoration progress encouraging interested parties to attend by stating, “Saved from Most Endangered Building status, the city’s coal-fired power plant is being transformed into an extraordinary commercial space where Garth’s Auctioneer & Appraisers and other tenants will hang their shingles next year. Fifty-foot ceilings, a giant coal hopper, crane hooks, steel beams, brick walls, clerestory windows, and a 206-foot iconic smokestack are being retained to create a much desired, authentic industrial-style space.”
A year later, the structure’s transformation is nearing completion with Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers residing in one area of the plant to the west; the original 1903 portion of the complex more recognizable from West Nationwide Boulevard with its dramatic brick facade and “Municipal Light Plant” emblem. Garth’s will occupy 24,000 square feet of space and plans to host its first auction there at the end of January. Until that time, though, Garth’s scheduled auctions through mid-January will be conducted at their interim location; this being at 1450 Dublin Road, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Jeff Jeffers, Garth’s CEO states, “As we transition between the above locations, our website, email, and telephones will be fully operational and remain the same. You will not experience changes or delays in customer service, auction consignments or purchases during that time. We are excited about the move and would like to thank everyone for their support and continued interest in Garth’s.”
Contact: (740) 362-4771