Located in Clintonville, a quiet suburb of Columbus, Ohio, the Whetstone Park of Roses exists just north of The Ohio State University. The garden functions as a gathering place for special occasions and a reminder of an important time in American history. Although it was just a farm at first, it was later utilized as a victory garden during war time and its journey to becoming the park it is now was not always easy. However, through trials and changes, it remains.
In 1944, the mayor of Columbus, James A. Rhodes purchased
the plot of land that is now Whetstone Park. Before it was a park though, it
was farmland. It was previously owned by a couple of the name Gay, Lewis and
Betsy Gay. Even before they owned it, it was owned by John Rathbone under the
United States Military Land Grants. Rathbone had likely gotten the land as a result
of the Revolutionary War in the 1803 act. Military Land Grants gave land to
officers in the Revolutionary War, different acreage for different rankings. They
were purposefully assignable, allowing for the exchange between Rathbone and
Lewis and Betsy Gay.
The land was later passed on to Margaret Fuller who
subsequently passed it on to the Miller family. At this point, in 1944, the
mayor stepped in and purchased the plot of land. This land was used for the
interest of America before being officially turned into a park and named
Whetstone in 1949.
Throughout the end of World War II, the park functioned as a
mass of Victory Gardens. The idea of Victory Gardens originated during World
War I as a result of a major food shortage in Europe as a result of recruitment
to the war effort. The United States stepped in to help, but the government required
a lot of effort to be able to feed their own country and many in European
countries. Therefore, the everyday United States citizen was encouraged by
his/her government to plant a garden and contribute to the war effort. This country-wide
contribution engendered a spirit of national pride and importance to the whole
in a time when many people felt hopeless and downtrodden. The most popular
crops included different leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, and various starches.
After the war, the Victory Gardens went dormant and
Whetstone was transformed back into a local park for the community. In 1952,
the Columbus Rose Club, Ohio Rose Society, and American Rose Society got their
wish of a rose garden in Columbus. The American Rose Society was housed in the
municipal garden for a few decades, then moved south to Louisiana. Because
Columbus is so cold in the winters, the roses cannot survive all year round and
therefore mass amounts of the flowers die annually. At first, the cost was just
too much for the community to bear. Sadly, it was inevitable that Clintonville
would have to say goodbye to its beloved garden. Thankfully, the Columbus Park
of Roses Foundation was formed to help cover the cost and keep the beautiful
history of the park alive. The foundation still works with the community to
this day to make sure everyone can experience the unique rose garden.
Today, the Whetstone Park of Roses continues to add to the
area and make it even more attractive to the public. For instance, they added a
fountain that was just finished in the past 5 years. Therefore, the Whetstone
Park of Roses will continue to improve and adapt, attract community for special occasions, and remind people of a vital time in our country’s history.