Roadside Relics: Central Columbus
9.Annabelle, the Giant Praying Mantis
At the northwest corner of the intersection of Olentangy River Road and Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus
Dutifully stationed at the front of Chadwick Arboretum’s Phenology Research Garden, Annabelle, a giant metal praying mantis, sits and waits.
According to the Chadwick Arboretum’s website, the sculpture was designed by local sculptors Pat Belisle and Chris Saylor and eventually placed in front of the Research Garden, designed to engage passersby who walk close to the garden without visiting.
Located at the busy intersection go Olentangy River Road and Woody Hayes Drive, the sculpture is just off the road, in a shallow ravine.
10. Jeff the Giant Sloth
155 South Oval Mall, Columbus
At seven feet tall, Jeff towers over all other “residents” of OSU’s Orton Geological Museum. Jeff is a mostly complete set of fossilized remains of a Megalonyx Jeffersonii, or giant ground sloth, which roamed Holmes County more than 13,000 years ago, munching on tree leaves and other vegetation.
Brought to Orton Hall shortly after his discovery in 1890, Jeff now resides beside another crowd favorite, Dunkleosteus, a 20-foot-long, flesh-eating snake that roamed Ohio 380 million years ago, when ocean covered the area.
This seven foot-tall sloth is located in Ohio State University’s Orton Hall. Jeff accepts visitors Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
–John M. Clark
11. State Fair Cardinal Statue
717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus
Since 1986, a same massive, 12-foot cardinal statue (perched atop a four foot base) has adorned the north entrance of the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Supposedly weighing approximately 500 pounds, the bird was build from fiberglass.
And while he’s the largest, some version of a cardinal sculpture–the cardinal is Ohio’s state bird–has stood at that site since the 1950s.
The giant fairgrounds cardinal is not publicly accessible when the fairgrounds are closed. It’s located at the north entrance to the fairgrounds, just south of East 20th avenue.
12. World’s Largest Ping Pong Paddle
141 N. 4th St. (inside Pins Mechanical Co.)
The world’s largest ping pong paddle is not in a museum, nor is it on display in a ping pong venue. it’s on the wall of a bar and bowling alley in Downtown Columbus.
The paddle is located inside the 4th Street location of Pins Mechanical Co. According to Pins, the entire thing was constructed out of wood and rubber, and it stand at 11’6″ in length, 6’5″ in length and 8″ in width.
The Paddle was finished in February of 2017, through a collaboration between Rise Brands and Kobolt Studios.
13. World’s Largest Gavel
145 S. Front St., Columbus
The gavel has long been seen as the symbol of our justice system. So, it only goes to reason that a giant version of this ceremonial hammer would sit outside our state’s highest court.
The 31-foot-long, stainless steel gavel and sounding block were created by sculptor Andrew Scott and placed in a manmade reflecting pool just south of the Ohio Supreme Court building in 2008. The Ohio State Bar Association commissioned the 17,000-pound gavel, believed to be the largest in the world.
Ohio’s Supreme Court Building, also known today as the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, is a work of art, itself, having been completed in March 1933 to house many of the state’s departments, agencies and commissions. A multi-million-dollar renovation returned the 18-floor building to its original, art deco grandeur in 2004.
Inside, roughly 200 works of art grace the building’s walls and halls – most by state or regional artists – though none whose scale quite matches that of the outdoor gavel.
–John M. Clark
14. Giant Slingshot
Intersection of Lucas Street and Sullivant Avenue
You won’t kill any pigeons with it. And you certainly won’t slay Goliath, either. But the new, 20-foot-tall slingshot sculpture in Franklinton sure is a fun photo op.
Franklinton artist Andrew Lundberg is quoted as saying his creation is a “visual reminder of our momentum as a community while maintaining the mischievous nature of the artists that make us who we are.”
Real estate developer Casto commissioned the piece, which was placed at the corner of Sullivant Avenue and Lucas Street, next to the company’s River & Rich apartments and retail development.
Weighing 6,000 pounds, the artwork was constructed over a period of five months, culminating in its unveiling in May 2022. The date “1797,” inscribed in its base, refers to the year Franklinton was founded – six years before Ohio became a state and 15 years before Columbus came into being. You’ll find the huge slingshot sculpture where Lucas Street dead-ends into Sullivant Avenue, Lucas Street Plaza.
–John M. Clark
15. King Gambrinus
605 S. Front St.
He looks a little out of place – the jolly fat man in green hoisting a pint (or more) of brew near the entrance to a grocery store parking lot on South Front Street. Actually, he’s very close to his old home – this larger-than-life statue of King Gambrinus, the imagined patron saint of beer.
This particular Gambrinus statue supposedly was fashioned after famed Columbus brewer August Wagner and stood above the entrance to the Wagner brewery on the corner of South Front and Sycamore Streets until the building was demolished in 1974. The 12-foot sculpture was rescued at that time and now serves as a reminder of Columbus’ rich brewing history.
The King Gambrinus statue is easily accessible at 605 South Front Street, near the east entrance to the Brewery District Kroger parking lot.
–John M. Clark
16. Rusty Cigarette Sculpture
1472 E. Livingston Ave.
Call it public art or maybe even guerrilla sculpture, either way, not much is known about the smallest attraction on our list.
The artist is unknown, and when exactly these were created is as well, but it appears that several metal columns located in a parking lot on Livingston Avenue were painted over to resemble a collection of lit cigarettes.
This is a small, and apparently anonymous, gesture that likely goes overlooked many times everyday, but if you ask us, there’s something fun, and exhilarating, about transforming random urban detritus into something that can bring a small amount of joy to the public.
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