When you reach Washington Row – turn around and look at the…..

Erie County Courthouse - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyERIE COUNTY COURTHOUSE – It was once a very ornate Second Empire style building, however; the court house was ‘modernized’ as a WPA project in the 1930’s. Elements of the original façade can still be seen. READ MORE

Turn towards the Lake and the first cross street you come to is Washington Row.


Now you are ready to travel Columbus Ave. and take a walk through history.

Continuing down Columbus Ave. towards the Lake, on your left is the County office building and parking garage, but back in the day there were several businesses here. The Sloane House Hotel. In this photo, c1890, you can see the Sloane House (L) and the Kingsbury Building & Commercial Banking & Trust Co. (R). Further down is the Cooke building (R). The street is wide and full of horse drawn carriages.

Later, LaSalles Dept. Store replaced the Sloane House on the corner and as you travel down Columbus St., next door was the …..

JC Penney - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyTHE GRAHAM-RITTER BUILDING – 129 Columbus Ave. between the J. C. Penney and Lasalle’s was the Graham-Ritter Building, which was constructed in 1878. It was the home of Caryl Crane and Byer Bros.  READ MORE

Remember, this was the main downtown shopping area, perfect for visitors who arrived on the steamboats or trains as it was just a short walk from the depot and steamboat docks.

J. C. PENNEY – This two-story Colmar Building was constructed in the late 1920s for retail tenants. At one time J. C. Penney shared the building with Montgomery Ward. READ MORE

Looking across Columbus Ave. to the east, right on the corner, you will find…

Stones Block - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietySTONE’S BLOCK – Early commercial development of the SE. corner of Columbus Ave. and E. Market St. began in 1870 when local attorney Walter F. Stone constructed a frame building for stores. After Walter’s death, his widow Cordelia Stone inherited the property and in 1882-1883 built the Stone Building on this site. Walking by the Stone Building in the late 1800s and early 1900s you would have noticed its red brick walls and the galvanized iron cornice along its roof. READ MORE

We realize that photos do not tell the whole story about who or what occupied all these buildings. we found this great resource – The Sanborn Insurance Maps. there are 42 maps for Sandusky, dated 1893. You would be surprised at what is hidden behind and in some of these buildings. There are livery stables, carriage houses, boarding houses, small and large businesses.
Go ahead, explore Sandusky in 1893 



It is hard to imagine the size of some of the buildings on this street. And why not, it was a railroad hub and connection point for Lake Erie steamboats. Thousands of visitors came to the city to connect to the Put-in-Bay, the Bass Islands and Kelley’s Island, not to mention points further west like Toledo and Detroit.

On the left…

West House - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyTHE WEST HOUSE HOTEL – was located on the SW corner of Columbus Ave. and Water St. Ever since local contractor W. T. West opened the West House in 1858, the year the state fair visited Sandusky, the intersection of Water St. and Columbus Ave. has been a hub of activity. READ MORE

THE WILKE BUILDING – 129 Columbus Ave. This small building was once part of the massive West House Hotel. It was a separate building, but the West House had rooms above the storefront. READ MORE

State Theater - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietySTATE THEATER – After the West House Hotel was demolished William Seitz opened the State Theater motion picture house in 1928 on the site. READ MORE

On the right, or east, side of Columbus, starting at the corner of Market…

Graham Drug - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyGRAHAM DRUG – 102 Columbus Ave.
During the antebellum years the cluster of storefronts lining the southern corner of Columbus Ave. and Market St. included tailor, cobbler, milliner, and barber shops, along with a market. Today Daly’s Pub encompasses 102-112 Columbus Ave. READ MORE

Frank Schnaitter Tailoring Company - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyFRANK SCHNAITTER TAILORING COMPANY – 104–106 Columbus Ave. This is Columbus Ave., 1896. The building was constructed for immigrants Anton Buderus and Cornelius Schnaitter who utilized the Victorian style building for their tailor shop. READ MORE

Womens Building - Erie County Ohio Historical Society

WOMEN’S BUILDING – 110 Columbus Ave. – Upon completion in 1874 shops and offices occupied 110 Columbus Ave. for a number of years. Between 1913 and 1921 it was known as the Women’s Building. READ MORE

Moss Building - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyMOSS BUILDING – 114–124 Columbus Ave.
Brothers Horace and Augustus Moss built the Moss building at 114-124 Columbus Ave. in 1861. Among their first tenants were a bookstore and drug store. READ MORE

DONAHUE HARDWARE – 126 Columbus Ave.
The building was built in 1853 to house the Moss Brothers Bank. Faber and Frank Donahue, who moved their hardware store to this location from the NE corner of Jackson and Water Sts. in 1914, added the brick façade. READ MORE

Star Theatre - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietySTAR THEATRE – 136 Columbus Ave.
The Star Theatre at 136 Columbus Ave. was built in 1914 as a silent movie theater.
That little drive-through opening on the left under the single window, was a way for deliveries to get to the back of the stores on the block.  READ MORE

Union Bank - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyUNION BANK – 142 Columbus Ave.
The building was built in 1853 and housed a succession of banks: Union Bank, Second National Bank, and Commercial Bank. READ MORE

Cooke Block - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyCOOKE BLOCK – 154 – 62 Columbus Ave.
The  name “Cooke” adorned the third floor fascia. Unfortunately, after valiantly trying to save the building, it had to be demolished due to structural issues. It was built in the 1850s. READ MORE

Jay Cooke Birthplace Marker - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietyJAY COOKE’S BIRTHPLACE MARKER – This marker hung on the north side of the Cooke Building facing E. Market St. and marked the location where Jay Cooke, Civil War financier and developer of the Northern Pacific Railroad was born on August 10, 1821. It was removed for construction of the new building. READ MORE

At the end of Columbus St. overlooking the lake is the …

Schade Mylander Plaza - Erie County Ohio Historical SocietySCHADE-MYLANDER PLAZA – Standing at the foot of Columbus Ave., the view is little changed in the last 100 years. The plaza itself is reconstructed with a new fountain and reminiscent of the open plaza that existed here a century ago. READ MORE

After admiring the view of Lake Erie through the gateway, turn around and explore Water Street or Shoreline drive and Jackson Street.

See the changes that occurred between 1958 and 2021 along the waterfront Downtown Sandusky 1958. The most jarring differences between the historic and modern photos are on the waterfront:
There were still railroad tracks on Shoreline Drive.
The Chesapeake Lofts building was still a factory
Jackson Street Pier was just a fraction of its current size.
Schade-Mylander Plaza did not exist.
Many other industrial buildings lined the various slips along the bay.


This is a great way to circle back to the parking garage. Which ends the Columbus Street portion of our walking tour. But that doesn’t mean this is all the historic sites and buildings there are in Sandusky. Be sure to take in these other tours:

The Underground Railroad
Washington Park
A Virtual Tour of Sandusky