HDC Starts Work on the Historic Hayes Henderson House in Columbus

HDC is working with Design Group to prepare an assessment and feasibility study of the Hayes Henderson House for the OSU Wexner Medical Center East Hospital. The Georgian Style brick house was constructed between 1856 and 1870 on what was a 66-acre farm in 1876. After Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes left office in 1873, he formed a partnership with other investors to acquire the property and subdivide it as the Hayes Addition. The project likely stalled after Hayes was elected president of the United States in 1876. The Hayes Addition was not officially platted until 1896, well after Hayes’ death in 1881. The plat left the house on a 1.5-acre site with the rest of the parcel divided into less than 0.10 acre lots. By 1922 two duplex houses had been built east of the house and all three buildings were apparently for rent.

1896 Plat of the Hayes Addition
In 1942, Leonard Pearl Henderson, a prominent Black lawyer for the city’s Probate Court, purchased the property and lived there with his wife, singer Mary Ferne Henderson, and young daughter LeNora Henderson. Leonard P. Henderson graduated from the OSU College of Law in 1916, just four years after Clarence A. Jones, the first Black graduate of the College of Law. The Hendersons made many improvements to the house through the 1950s, including the addition of the two sunrooms and raising the front porch to two stories. The family also hosted many Black entertainers and celebrities who traveled to Columbus, including singer Cab Calloway and basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. LeNora “Lee” Johnson, who became a New York model and designer, inherited the house in 1987, made many improvements, and opened the house as the first Black-owned bed and breakfast in the State of Ohio in 1995. Upon her retirement in 2017, the property was sold to Blueprint Community Development LLC before being acquired by The Ohio State University in 2021 with the intention of demolishing the buildings and constructing a new rehabilitation center. After public outcry at the demolition, OSU agreed to move the rehabilitation center to another site and find an alternate use for the historic house.
Leonard Pearl Henderson
HDC is currently working to provide recommendations and cost estimates to rehabilitate the house into four possible uses: a learning/activity center focused on youth, health provider/researcher-in-residence housing, non-profit/social service hub office, or small business use.

Southwest corner of the Hayes Henderson house in February 2024.