In 1859, Henry Miller purchased a farm in hopes of improving the health of his son James Turrell Miller. The family moved from Columbus to the farm in 1862. Seven years later, James married Esther Everitt and took over management of the farm, while his parents returned to Columbus.
James and Esther had eight children in the farm’s expanded 22-room mansion (pictured left), with imported chandeliers, pier-glass mirrors and white marble fireplaces. It was among the first homes to feature indoor plumbing. Their first six children were girls—later called “the aunties” by early residents—followed by two boys. Despite their genteel schooling at Miss Phelps’ School on East Broad Street, the Miller girls were firebrands who marched down High Street demanding women’s suffrage and volunteered with the Red Cross during World War I.
By 1913, the farm was becoming difficult for the aging James to maintain. His physician, Dr. J.A. Van Fossen, connected him with King and Ben Thompson, who were interested in purchasing land for a new development. On Christmas Eve, 1913, the Thompsons finalized the deal to purchase 840 acres of the Miller farm.
King Gibson Thompson (pictured right), born in 1876, and his younger brother, Benjamin Sells Thompson, born in 1879, grew up in Georgetown, Ohio, near the Ohio River.
While studying at The Ohio State University, King, a natural businessman, used a horse and buggy—a gift from his father—to start a delivery business, using the proceeds to buy a boarding house. He also helped organize the first train to carry OSU football fans to the Michigan game in Ann Arbor. King started his career in real estate by developing residential areas north and east of the University. In 1903, he married Ethel Herrick, a fellow OSU student.
Ben pursued a career selling hardware in Mansfield, Ohio, before enrolling at OSU. He married Catherine Pinney, of Flint, Ohio. Perhaps because Ben had no children, less history survives of the “quiet” Thompson son. He joined King in the real estate business in 1907.
Their partnership flourished. King was known as the dealmaker, planner and dreamer. Ben organized and helped make King’s ideas a reality. Within four years they made their mark on neighborhoods including Indian Springs, Northridge, Woodland Crest, Royal Forest, and other parts of Clintonville, Beechwold and Grandview. By 1913, the Thompsons had a vision for a new community modeled after the Country Club District in Kansas City. They looked at land east of downtown before finding the Miller Farm.