German Village House Histories
Helping Villagers Find Spirit
in History and Giving
Seven years ago Alison Randall suggested to her newly retired husband that he find something besides the couch to occupy his time. The suggestion fuelled David Randall to finally pursue the curiosity he had in his home’s 150-year history. He was interested in knowing more about who had lived there, their connections to the historical events of the time, and what their lives might have been like. “Every home has a cumulative presence of its occupants and I thought it would be fun to know a little more about the spirit of our home. In the process, I discovered that I enjoyed getting to know the spirits of many homes in German Village.”
Randall’s quest for information started at the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s City Directories, published in the mid and late 1800s. He found a wealth of information on his own home’s previous occupants as well as information for a number of the neighboring homes in German Village. He began documenting the information in batches upon each return to the Library and that’s when he realized that his off-the-couch hobby was morphing into an actual business.
Today, German Village House Histories has a database that contains histories of most of all of the homes and businesses in German Village. The Randall’s interest in photography was incorporated with the data to create their signature product which is an 8.5”x11” print featuring biographical data, from various previous homeowners, encircling a photo of the home. They offer several other products including home webpages that reflect the same information a print would include, as well as a “historic neighborhoods” print which captures information on eight homeowners, of a particular block, in a year in the 1800s.
You can imagine that the Randall’s have unearthed their fair share of interesting characters in their research – of this earth and beyond. David Randall mentions a client for whom they created customized Christmas cards. “The homeowner noted, in the photo we took for the card, an unusual figure-like image in the front doorway of her home. Interestingly enough, she knew right away who it was. She had mentioned feeling a warm ‘presence’ during the holidays and from our house history, she learned that the house had been a bakery in the 1800s. Our client believes to this day that the baker continues to enjoy the familiar sounds and smells of holiday preparations.”
The Randall’s customized Christmas card line is one of their most popular products, and orders for them are beginning to gear up as Fall approaches. The fold-over cards include a photo of the home and capture the whimsy and warmth of the holidays by offering historical snippets suggesting how the Civil War era homeowners may have celebrated the season. “It’s a great, fun project for us, “ states Randall. “We are very proud to donate $5 of each of our card sales to Livingston United Methodist Church’s food pantry. The cards really give us a chance to be historically imaginative while providing a meaningful way to participate in the spirit of giving. And if we happen to run into spirits of another kind during the process, well… that’s ok too.”
Find out more about German Village House Histories’ prints and customized Christmas cards –
German Village House Histories
39 East Beck Street
Columbus, OH 43215