Columbus has added another piece of its rich history to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Wisconsin Historical Society announced last week that the Dix Street-Warner Street neighborhood was listed on the National Register, joining 21 other historic attractions in Columbus. State places and districts designated on the National Register are also included in the Wisconsin Register of Historic Places.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Dix-Warner neighborhood was selected due to its “exceptional grouping of single family homes representing various midcentury modern styles, including Usonian, ranch, split level and contemporary styles, reflecting modern trends in architectural styles during the mid-20th Century.”
This area of Columbus grew after World War II when many soldiers returned from the war, started families and built the homes. Daina Penkiunas, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the Wisconsin Historical Society, said most of the homes in this neighborhood were constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
“The ranch style was a popular style back then,” Penkiunas said. “It was considered modern for that time period. Each one of those homes is a little different.”
In order for a neighborhood to be placed on the National Register, it has to be clearly identified as a historic neighborhood, according to the state historical society. Being placed on the National Register provides residents an opportunity to apply for specific grants and income tax credits to maintain their homes. It does not restrict how private property owners may use their properties.
Columbus Mayor Michael Thom said getting the Dix-Warner neighborhood placed on the register was a long, tedious process. Columbus’ Historic Landmarks Preservation Committee spearheaded the drive to get the district recognized nationally.
“They have to submit information to the state and it goes back and forth,” Thom said. “There are public hearings in the city. I was pretty impressed to see the amount of work put into this and it’s just people volunteering their time. Luckily we have people on the commission who know this process because they’ve done it before.”
Thom said the Wisconsin Historical Society has a deep appreciation for the city’s commitment to preserving its history.
“For a city of this size we have more historical districts than any other city, except maybe Milwaukee,” Thom said. “We’re really setting the bar high for everyone else.”
One of the gems along this historic district is the Arnold Home, designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The home, situated at the crest of a hill on Dix Street, is owned by Mary Arnold and Henry St. Maurice.
“I know they’ve done quite a bit of work in preserving their home,” Thom said. “Even putting in air conditioning can be a challenge.”
Mary Arnold moved into the home as a young child in 1955. When her parents passed away in the mid-2000s, Arnold and her husband, St. Maurice, inherited the home. After moving into the house in 2009, the couple replaced the roof, added insulation and placed air conditioning units in every room.
The Arnold Home itself was placed on the National Register in 2006.
“Having grown up here there are some really lovely homes in Columbus and it’s always a good thing for a town to recognize historic buildings, not just tear them down to build condos,” Arnold said. “Not that there is anything wrong with condos, but it’s great these buildings are preserved.”
Arnold’s parents, E. Clarke and Julie Arnold, expanded the home after learning they were expecting twins in 1959. The home is “Y-shaped” and is very noticeable in the community. Mary Arnold said the home looks similar to when she was a child in the 1950s.
“At the time when this was built this was the only home west of Dix Street,” St. Maurice said.
The home provides beautiful views of sunsets and moonlit nights, which is what Wright intended. It’s another piece of history that gives Columbus its unique flair.