one of the first African American country clubs in the United States

1954 June 19 Ohio Sentinel p6
1946 March 23 Ohio State News p22
1954 May 22 Ohio Sentinel p4
1952 Dec6 Ohio State News p19
1954 May 29 Ohio Sentinel p9
1944 Oct 28 Ohio State News p24
1954 July 10 Ohio Sentinel p9
1944 Nov 11 Ohio State News p25
1953 June 27 Ohio Sentinel p15
1944 May 27 Ohio State News p25
1952 July 19 Ohio State News p3B
1946 June 22 Ohio State News p5

The Club was run on dues and memberships. Promotional advertisements were placed in local African American newspapers. These ads provide insight into the facilities, activities, and amenities of the Club. 

The Clubhouse was a large wooden structure near the bank of the Big Walnut Creek, approximately where a small gazebo sits today. Some folks remember cottages and cabins further south, which served as summer residences on the grounds. ​

Inside the Clubhouse was a restaurant and bar. Local residents fondly remember Ernest Tate, who managed the Club in the 1950s.

Some community members remembered a fence around the Club with an entrance gate at the end of Oklahoma Avenue. They remember parades of fancy cars streaming in and out of Gahanna during the Club’s operation. To not create disruption or disturb the neighbors, club owners put a sign up that said “Quiet, No Honking.”

Gahanna History

The clubs downtown were “white only”, so folks came from Columbus to Gahanna for after hour celebrations. There may have been a place that sold wine and spirits called The Vineyard if you traveled on Johnstown Road to Gahanna, crossed the old iron bridge, and turned right off Granville Street.

ATLETIC SPORTS EXPERIENCE

The Big Walnut Country Club provided space and opportunity for athletic sports and physical recreation.

A variety of sports including baseball, croquet, horseshoes, softball, badminton, and volleyball were shown being played in advertisements, pictures of festivals, and articles over the years.

1954, July 3
1954, July 3

source: Ohio Sentinel p19

1954, July, 3
1954, July, 3

Four energetic guests try out Big Walnut Country Club's fine volleyball court. Club groups can form teams and compete against each other in various games offered at the club. source: Ohio Sentinel p19

1953, June 27
1953, June 27

"We have a driving range, horseshoe pits and croquet courts. Play areas are available for many other games." source: Ohio Sentinel p15

1954, July 3
1954, July 3

source: Ohio Sentinel p19

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1954, July 17
1954, July 17

click on the photo to enlarge it and read the text in the image source: Ohio Sentinel p12

photo shared by Mark Rucker.

1946, June 22
1946, June 22

source: Ohio St News p5

1954, July 17
1954, July 17

click on the photo to enlarge it and read the text in the image source: Ohio Sentinel p12

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Golf was an important part of the Club experience. At different times, there was a driving range and a 5-hole golf course.

CLUB EVENTS

Specials Occasions were celebrated at the Club. After a gala, high school forma, a wedding, or honeymoon, it was a place to continue the celebration. 

Prominent author, Wil Haygood, wrote a book called The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir about his family's history growing up in the Mt. Vernon Avenue area of downtown Columbus. On page 102, he recalls the marriage of his parents in 1952: "That evening -- the weather was beautiful, my parents remember -- Jack took his new bride out to Gahanna, a small town northeast of Columbus.  You had to take a winding two lane road to get there, past farmland and strangers and thick trees.  There was a little place in Gahanna for blacks called the Big Walnut Country Club. They had a place out there where you could sit under trees and they'd serve you, - recalls my father."

1950, August 16
1950, August 16

source: Ohio St News p1

1952, August 23
1952, August 23

source: Ohio St News p2A

1954, August 14
1954, August 14

source: Ohio Sentinel p9

1950, August 16
1950, August 16

source: Ohio St News p1

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Music & songs drifted for blocks on lively summer nights from the Club throughout Gahanna. Bands, dances, festivals, and the jukebox provided entertainment at the Club.

1952, August 16
1952, August 16

source: Ohio State News p5A

1953, August 22
1953, August 22

source: Ohio Sentinel p7

source: Nathaniel Robinson, former photographer with Ohio Sentinel - Thank you!

1952, August 16
1952, August 16

source: Ohio State News p5A

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The Bathing Beauty Pageant contest and dance was one of the most prominent events in the Club. For many years The Ohio State News sponsored the Bathing Beauty Pageant at different locations including the Lincoln Ballroom and the Valley Dale ballroom. In 1952, 1953, and 1954, the beauty pageant grew into a day-long summer festival held at the Big Walnut Country Club.

It's believed that after the Club ceased operation, the African-American

community events moved to new locations to be hosted in Gahanna. 

Frogs Farm

take E. Johnstown Road (US-62) and turn onto Clotts Road 

1950, September 30
1950, September 30

source: Ohio State News p24

1953, July 11
1953, July 11

source: Ohio Sentinel p20

1954, July 31
1954, July 31

source: Ohio Sentinel p9

1950, September 30
1950, September 30

source: Ohio State News p24

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HICKORY HAVEN

heading east on Havens Corners Road, turn onto Dixon Road and follow for about a mile

1961, August 10
1961, August 10

source: Ohio Sentinel p16

1962, August 30
1962, August 30

source: Ohio Sentinel p16

1961, August 10
1961, August 10

source: Ohio Sentinel p16

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FOP LODGE

located at 409 E. Johnstown Road (US-62)

1962, August 16
1962, August 16

source: Ohio Sentinel p20

1962, August 16
1962, August 16

source: Ohio Sentinel p16

1962, September 6
1962, September 6

Ohio Sentinel p6

1962, August 16
1962, August 16

source: Ohio Sentinel p20

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SHARING MEMORIES

If you have any memories about the Big Walnut County Club to share, or know anyone who does, please contact us and let us know.

Today, you a can visit the site, which is now Friendship Park, located at 150 Oklahoma Ave. Gahanna, OH 43230. Owned and operated by the City of Gahanna

to the following organizations for helping complete this project

THANK YOU

Ohio Humanities Council
Ohio Humanities Council

a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

African American Interest Group
African American Interest Group

AAIG, Franklin County Genealogy & Historical Society

Ohio State University AAAS
Ohio State University AAAS

African American & African Studies Community Extension Center

Senior Center
Senior Center

of the City of Gahanna

Gahanna Branch
Gahanna Branch

of the Columbus Metropolitan Library