A BRIEF HISTORY OF UPPER ARLINGTON
The land on which Upper Arlington was established was first inhabited by the Adena people, from 800 BC to 100 AD. In the 1700s, the Wyandot tribe called this land home and would often trade with the Delaware to the north and the Shawnee to the south.
By the 1800s, this area became part of the United States Military Lands, and the US government granted Elijah Backus, Jonathan Dayton, and Andrew Marker large parcels for their service in the Revolutionary War. Over the next century, a number of farming families settled in the area, which became part of Perry Township.
In 1913, brothers King and Ben Thompson purchased 840 acres from James T. Miller, which they began developing into the original Upper Arlington. The Miller farm boundaries laid approximately where Fifth Avenue, Riverside Drive, Lane Avenue and Northwest Boulevard are today. The site enjoyed westerly winds, shielding future residents from the fumes of the factories in Columbus, while still conveniently located close to downtown and accessible by streetcar. Upper Arlington was incorporated as a village in 1918.
In the decades that followed, the population of Upper Arlington grew rapidly. After World War II, many returning servicemen and their families made the suburban areas of Columbus their homes, including Upper Arlington. Over the years, as the population grew, Upper Arlington annexed surrounding land to reach its current boundaries of 9.67 square miles and a population estimate of 35,366 (reported July 1, 2019 by the U.S. Census).
An important figure in this 19th Century history before Upper Arlington was established is Pleasant Litchford. A blacksmith by trade, Pleasant bought his freedom from slavery and migrated from Virginia to this area of Ohio around 1830. He purchased 227 acres of land in southern Perry Township between 1833 – 1849, making him one of the largest land owners in Perry Township at that time. Pleasant dedicated a parcel of the land to establish a school for children of color, and another portion was established as a private cemetery. He was a founding member and deacon at Second Baptish Church, the first Black Baptist Church in Columbus. In the years that followed his death in 1879, his heirs sold the land, which was annexed into Upper Arlington in the 1940s-1050s as the community expanded to the north. The property he acquired includes the area that today is home to the Upper Arlington High School and portions of Northam Park.
HISTORY TRAIL SITES
Founded in 1976 as a not-for-profit volunteer organization, the Upper Arlington Historical Society collects archival materials, shares historical information, conducts educational programs, sponsors commemorative activities, promotes historic preservation, and serves as a community resource.
The UA Archives digital collections are provided as a service of the Upper Arlington Public Library. Through the UA Archives initiative, the library partners with local organizations and individuals to digitally preserve our community’s historical resources and make them available online.
The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. The Ohio History Connection carries out history services for Ohio and its citizens focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history.