Bexley is a suburban city in Franklin County, Ohio. The population was 13,057 at the 2010 census. Founded as a village over a hundred years ago, the City of Bexley is an old, tree-lined suburb of Columbus, the Ohio state capital, situated on the banks of Alum Creek next to Driving Park and Wolfe Park, just east of the Franklin Park Conservatory. It is horizontally bisected by the National Road (Main Street), serving as a reminder of Bexley's origins as a merger between the prestigious Bullitt Park neighborhood to the north, and the Lutheran college community of Pleasant Ridge to the south. This history of joining economic and educational privilege remains evident in Bexley to this day.
The historic suburb is perhaps best known, however, for its large houses and estates, located primarily in Bullitt Park. The most famous of these include the Jeffrey Park Mansion (aka "Kelveden"), the home of the president of The Ohio State University, and the Ohio Governor's Mansion. Located in northern Bexley, the Governor's Mansion — originally built as a private residence in 1925 and given to the state in 1955 — has been home to Ohio governors from 1957–2010, when Governor John Kasich controversially decided to reside at his home in Westerville.
Bexley was named at the suggestion of an early resident, Col. Lincoln Kilbourne, in honor of his family's roots in the London Borough of Bexley. The village of Bexley was incorporated in 1908 when prominent citizens of Bullitt Park along Alum Creek, including industrialist and former Mayor of Columbus Robert H. Jeffrey, agreed to merge with the Lutheran community of Pleasant Ridge near Capital University and the Lutheran seminary.
Bullitt Park had been founded in 1889, when Logan M. Bullitt of Philadelphia submitted his first plat for the area. Wealthy citizens of Columbus continued to build urban townhouses and country homes to the east along Broad Street and Town Road (now Bryden Road), extending to Franklin Park. By the 1890s, several large homes took root across Alum Creek in the Bullitt Park area, one of which becoming the original campus of the Columbus School for Girls, still an exclusive girls' private school in Bexley.
The onset of the Spanish-American War was also instrumental in Bexley's history. In 1898, Ohio Governor Asa Bushnell chose a cluster of unsold lots around Broad and Drexel in Bullitt Park as an assembly site for those headed for war. Camp Bushnell, as it was known, was home for three weeks to 8,000 Ohio volunteers headed for Cuba. This led to the development of water and sewer lines for the soldiers, thus preparing the area for later real estate development.
By 1908, the residents of Bullitt Park north of Main Street, and Pleasant Ridge south of Main Street, decided to merge their neighborhoods and incorporated as the Village of Bexley. The village reached the 5,000 population mark required by the state of Ohio to become a city in 1928 (still a requirement) and, on New Year's Day 1932, Bexley officially became a city. William A. Schneider was elected the first mayor of the City of Bexley in 1935. Mayor Schneider built the first city hall, and led Bexley through a long and profitable growth period. He remained in office for 32 years before retiring.
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