The growth of the car industry was reflected in the city of Columbus’s growth.Following World War I, the city boomed and new automobile-dependent areas of the city were built in Clintonville, Old Beechwold, Linden, and Westgate, while the suburban communities of Grandview, Upper Arlington and Bexley also thrived. The Ohio State University saw growth in enrollment, and constructed a large football stadium; the Ohio Theater became a downtown cultural institution; and the Leveque Tower was constructed and became the fifth tallest building in the world at that time. The expanding footprint of the metropolitan area and new car-dependent suburbs led to the formation of car dealerships downtown and along the city’s neighborhood commercial corridors.
In 1926, the McClure-Nesbitt Motor Company opened at 1503-1507 East Main Street. Located on the Near East Side of Columbus, the former dealership building is near the historically prosperous Franklin Park, Bryden Road, and Woodland Park neighborhoods.
The McClure-Nesbitt Motor Company building was designed by architect Ray Sims and built by D.B. Hussey, Inc. Built in the art deco style, the building is a handsome early 20th century commercial building, designed with attention to detail and a high level of craftsmanship. The primary facade is beige-colored glazed terra cotta with decorative carvings on the upper level of tires in motion and geometric patterns.
Initially the dealership sold Ford Vehicles, with Harry E Rosch, the firm’s treasurer, in charge of Sales and Service. In the 1930s, the McClure-Nesbitt Motor Company sold Chevrolet automobiles and by the late 1940s, the dealership was selling Chrysler and Plymouth models.
By 1961, the dealership’s name was changed to McClure Main Motor Co. In 1964, the structure was listed as vacant, marking the end of its original ownership. The structure continued to be used as a dealership or as an automobile repair facility (off and on), with the most recent business being H&R Body Shop.
With only a handful of car showrooms from the early 1900s remaining in Columbus, the McClure-Nesbitt Motor Company helps define an era of Columbus’ history. Through Designing Local, I partnered with Benjamin D Rickey Co. to assist the building owner in pursuing a local historic designation. On May 18, 2017, the City of Columbus Historic Resource Commission recommended the McClure-Nesbitt Motor Company be added to the local register of historic places.