American Addition History
American Addition is among the oldest African American communities in Central Ohio, dating to May 7, 1898 when the area’s 237 lots were carefully platted. Located only 3.5 miles from the Columbus Central Business District, it quickly became home to many African-American migrants from the South who longed for a rural, open setting and a good place to raise their children.
By 1934, there were 120 households in the community. The original houses in the neighborhood were built from a variety of materials, including boxcar material, paper, and logs. In its early years, residents of the neighborhood raised hogs chickens, and cows, as well as cultivated gardens. Due to a lack of modern conveniences and public services, ‘Additioners’ often faced difficult conditions, particularly during winter months, throughout the Great Depression and the following years.
The churches located in American Addition date to the early 1900s. Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church was organized in a small storefront on Lee Avenue in 1910. It experienced steady growth until 1955, when a fire burned the building to the ground. The building was replaced two years and four months later; it was dedicated to Robert Bennett and Deacon King E. Naff, who worked diligently on the building’s construction. Lee Avenue Methodist Church was founded a year after Mt. Zion and the Church of God on Sigsbee Ave. was founded in 1936. Ministers of the various churches promoted an improvement in community life as a means to improve Additioners’ individual and family lives.
The Tray-Lee Center was established in December of 1956. It provided facilities as well as educational and recreation programs for the youth and families of the neighborhood. Leaders of the Center hoped that the Addition youth would enjoy a meaningful experience and grow to be caring citizens who would work for community improvement.
In 1959, American Addition was annexed to the City of Columbus after much debate. After annexation, the City initiated various neighborhood clean-ups throughout the 60s—trash, immobile cars, and blighted homes were removed. The City granted the neighborhood’s petition for sanitary sewers in 1969. This, along with the area clean-ups, ensured American Addition would remain a desirable residential community for years to come.
Extreme Makeover and Beyond
In 2009 in an effort to bring attention to American Addition and to help the families living there, Homeport answered a call from EXTREME Makeover: Home Edition. The show’s producers were interested in featuring a neighborhood in the midst of a rebirth.
Then Homeport AmeriCorps Member Katelyn Victor went door to door talking to the families and helping those interested in completing the lengthy application. Our Director of Marketing, Ray George, created videos for the families to accompany their applications, and the Director of Home Ownership and now Vice President of Homeport Programs, Craig Murphy teamed up with Mayor Coleman to shoot an additional supporting video discussing the neighborhood’s history.
On August 4th, 2011 the cast of EXTREME Makeover: Home Edition knocked on the door and surprised the Rhodes family with the news that they were chosen to receive a brand new home because of their love and commitment to each other. We cannot think of a better launch to the rebuilding of this proud community.
In addition to spreading the Homeport message at the Hudson Street bus depot, where all volunteers, spectators and contractors assembled for their work shifts, we setup our tent on-site at American Addition. It was a great opportunity to let people know about the services we provide and our plans for American Addition.
On Monday, August 8th 2011, 70 Homeport staff converged on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition site at American Addition to help build the home. The home build was part of the 2 hour Christmas special.
In October 2011, Homeport broke ground on the first 6 lots and those homes were completed in spring 2012. Our plan is to build over 100 homes throughout a 10 year period and a variety of models will be available to choose from. All of the houses will be built to green AWARE standards.
The American Addition neighborhood will also benefit from the first residential applications of green infrastructure designed specifically for a residential setting in the City of Columbus. Significant infrastructure improvements including new streets, sidewalks, and the City’s first eco-friendly storm water drainage system began in 2013.
On November 5, 2014, neighborhood leaders and representatives of Homeport joined Mayor Michael B. Coleman and City Councilmember Shannon G. Hardin to celebrate the completion of the first phase of roadway and other infrastructure improvements in the American Addition neighborhood. The work is part of the American Addition Improvements Project, which is a joint effort between the City of Columbus and Homeport. Read more about the celebration here.