1917 Season

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1917 Season
Manager(s) Will D. Harris (operating lessee)
Joseph W. and Will J. Dusenbury
a.k.a. Dusenbury Brothers
The Olentangy Park Company
Opening Day April 29, 1917 (Sundays)
May 27, 1917 (daily)
Closing Day September 1, 1917 (theater)
November 1917 (park)
New Attractions Swimming Pool
New Restaurant
Stock Company Richard Buhler Players
Stock Manager A.G. Delamater
Band(s) Burke's Military Band
John McCardle's Orchestra

Olentangy Park opened for the season first on Sunday, April 29, 1917, for Sundays only and for daily operation on Sunday, May 27, 1917.[1] Opening Day featured Frank Robinson's Trained Elephants and Vaudeville troop, Rex Adams and Company, performing "The Night Hawks."[2] Burke's Military Band, featuring Anna Woodward and Gene Lord, played free concerts, and John McCardle's Orchestra provided music in the Dancing Pavilion throughout the season. Will D. Harris was the operating lessee of the park[3], while J.W. and W.J. Dusenbury and their company, The Olentangy Park Company, maintained ownership.[4]

On June 23, inclement weather caused the park to close.[5]

Ads claimed Olentangy Park was the "largest and most complete" amusement park in the U.S.[6] On Sunday, August 5, the park broke its attendance record with over 26,000 visitors that day.[7]

The theater closed for the season on September 1, 1917.[8] The park was also to close on September 1 but was extended to Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 29, 1917.[9] The park was only open during weekends starting Saturday, September 22[10] and there is little evidence the park was open much past November 9, 1917. Almost 200,000 people visited the park during the season.[11]

Improvements to the Park

Manager Harris spent $15,000 ($329,470 in 2022) on improvements for the 1917 season.[12]

One hundred ten to 160 men worked throughout the spring to clean up and prepare the park for its opening.[4] Electricians installed and tested 15,687 new electric light globes - each ranging from 60 to 100 candlepower and come in all colors and sizes. The number of lights broke the record for General Electric's sales of Mazda lights.[13] The most elaborate lighting was in the Dancing Pavilion ballroom, where lights gave a combined power of 100,000 candlepower to create a moonlight effect and used some Mazda C-2 lamps. The sidewalks were also "alive with lights," and the amusement devices were a "mass of light from one end to the other." Lights were also installed to light the automobile parking lot, and towers at each end of the park could be seen for miles.[14] A new roof was put on the theater, and all the buildings were painted green and white.[15] This change to tungsten filament lights from carbon was most likely an investment to lower electric costs.

Commodore Joe Keenan improved the Olentangy Canoe Club where nominal dues were one dollar. Manager Harris replaced all the old steel row boats.[16]

New Restaurant

A new restaurant was advertised with a special chicken dinner for 60 cents ($13.18 in 2022) on its opening day.[12]

Rides and Attractions

New Swimming Pool

Main Article: Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool, completed in July 1917, which was advertised as the largest inland swimming pool in the world but was the second-largest pool in the U.S. The original specs were for the pool to be 300 feet long by 80 feet wide, giving it a surface space of 24,000 square feet. When completed, it was 325 feet by 95 feet and took 3 million gallons to fill.[17] It was able to accommodate 5,000 swimmers. At the east side of the pool, the water was 18 inches deep, and the slope gradually ended 9 feet deep at the west end. Seats were installed on both sides to accommodate spectators. Bathhouses separated by gender were of an L-shape and located at the northwest end of the pool with attendants. They included lockers and shower baths. Manager Harris purchased 7,000[17] bathing suits of varying popular designs of the time, each being able to be washed and dried within 10 minutes after use. Visitors paid 25 cents ($5.50 in 2022) to rent the suits.[18] Two 6-inch water mains by the city waterworks provided the water in a constant stream. The pool was designed to drain and fill within a few hours to afford sanitation. Manager Harris paid $15,000 ($329,470 in 2022) as part of the contract for the park lease. Forty to 50 men worked with two large concrete mixers in early June to complete the pool on scheduled time, but inclement weather pushed its completion to July.[19] The pool was open daily from 9 a.m. to the park's close.[17]

List of Rides and Attractions


List of Activities

Musical Performances

Burke's Military Band, featuring Anna Woodward and Gene Lord, played free concerts, and John McCardle's Orchestra provided music in the Dancing Pavilion throughout the season.[2] Lord performed Edmund Vance Cooke's war song on the opening day.

Members of Burke's Military Band:

  • Gene Lord, soloist
  • Anna Woodward, soloist
  • B. Cichinelli, euphonium
  • O. Horlocker, xylophone

Clarence Calindine, aged 13, performed with Burke's Military Band during the week of June 3.[20]

Theater Performances

The Olentangy Theater hosted the Crestview Junior High School during its housewarming party on Thursday, May 3, 1917. Seventy-five cast members performed "Mr. Bob," a musical comedy directed by Grant P. Ward and starring Louise Tuttle, Kathryn Nowel, Louise Dixon, Dorothy Williams, Hazel Riggle, Charles Vogel, Robert Shields, and Morton Bodfish. [21][22]

The Ohio State University Strollers performed "Mrs. Gerringe's Necklace," a Henry Davies comedy, on May 4 and 5.[23] They were directed by Carle b. Robbins and starred Eleanor H. Lewis as Mrs. Gorringe, Marie Guthrie as Isabel Kirk, Mabel Nichol as Mrs. Jardine, Humphrey W. Pearson as Captain Mowbray, Harry E. Ronch as Lieutenant David Cairn, Paul M. Herbert as the colonel, Carson Blair as the detective, Mariam G. Smith as the daughter, Arian R. Thorley as the butler and Gwendolyne V. Decker as Miss Potts.[24][25]

The Canoe Club gave a "grand minstrel show" at the Olentangy Park Theater on Friday and Saturday, May 25 and 26.[26]

Will D. Harris originally booked the two musical comedies for the theater to provide entertainment until headliner Mary Servoss finished her shows in New York in May to begin shows at the park theater in June.[4] Later, Manager Harris decided to have Vaudeville at the theater instead of a stock company until mid-June and opened the theater season on May 27, the day of the park's official opening. There were two shows per day at 2:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.[12] Each Vaudeville show had eight to 12 acts.[15]

Tickets were sold up to one week in advance.

Dispatch Contest

There were 22 pieces of a photograph in the June 3 issue of the Columbus Sunday Dispatch of nine of "the pretty maidens from 'The Sweet Shop'" that was to be performed that week at Olentangy Park Theater.[27] Readers who cut out the 22 pieces and place them together properly could send them in to Dispatch with the advertisers' information to be entered into a contest with the following prizes:

  • First place prize - One entire box for three performances on June 11, June 15, and June 25, an $18 value ($395 in 2022 dollars)
  • Second place prize - One entire box for two performances on June 12 and June 19, a $12 value ($264 in 2022 dollars)
  • Third place prize - One entire box for Wednesday night, June 13, and two box seats for June 12 and June 19, a $10 value ($220 in 2022 dollars)
  • Fourth place prize - One entire box for Monday night, June 11, and two box seats for June 18, a $8 value ($176 in 2022 dollars)
  • Fifth place prize - One entire box for Tuesday night, June 12, and two box seats for June 18, a $6 value ($132 in 2022 dollars)
  • 25 other winners a varying amount of orchestra seat tickets for different performance dates, ranging from $1 - $3 ($22 - $66 in 2022)

Maire Shapter was awarded first prize on June 10.[28]

Vaudeville Acts

There were two Vaudeville shows per day at 2:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.[12] Each show had eight to 12 acts.[15]

Week of May 27, 1917

  • Rex Adams and Co. - "The Night Hawks"
  • Standard Brothers
  • Doniti
  • Dawson, Lamgan, and Covert (Dancing Phiends)
  • Balcom and Sherman
  • The Gillette Trio
  • Clark and McCullough

Week of June 4, 1917


  • Leroy and Cahill - "The Sweet Shop" - starring Victoria Webster and eight chorus girls
  • Sid Lewis, the "Original Nut"
  • Frederick, Nelson, and Frederick - A comedy and musical sketch
  • Gardner-Vincent Company - "A Trip to the Moon," a comedy - The show had "electrical effects."
  • Ferguson and Sunderland - "Songs That Are Somewhat Different"
  • The Three Rosars - "Fun on a Garden Wall"

Week of June 11, 1917


  • Willa Holt Wakefield
  • Blossom Robinson and Billy Link - "The Girl and The Traffic Policeman"
  • Ninn Straw's Minstrel Maids
  • The Three Fishers
  • The Three Roselles - "The Singers of Real Songs"
  • The Youngers - "To Save One Girl"

Olentangy Park Stock


The Olentangy stock company, the Richard Buhler Players, included: [31][32]

  • Max von Mitzel, director
  • Richard Buhler, actor
  • Lillian Kemble, actor
  • A.S. Byron [or Brynn or Pyron], actor
  • Roy Gordon, actor
  • John Elliot, actor
  • John Prescott, actor
  • R. Thomas Holden
  • Carl Nimau [or Norman]
  • Mabel Carruthers [or Carthurs], actress
  • Ida Maye, actress
  • Alice Terry, actress
  • Margaret Knight, actress
  • A.D. Graham
  • Jay Quigley
  • Louise Orendorf
  • Harry Mack
  • Hamilton Christie
  • Charles Dillon, stage manager
  • William Brown, advertising agent
  • Edward Richter, assistant agent

The company was managed by A.G. Delamater of New York.[31][32]


Evenings and box tickets were 75 cents ($16.47 in 2022), 500 seats were sold at 50 cents ($10.98 in 2022), and 1100 more at 15 to 35 cents ($3.29 to $7.69 in 2022).[33] Originally, the Richard Buhler Players were signed for June, but were extended six weeks after a successful run.[34]

Dates Performance Writer Genre Headliners Notes
June 10 - 16, 1917 "Rolling Stones" [35]
June 17-23, 1917 "Common Clay" Drama Richard Buhler and Lillian Kemble [35][31]
June 24-30, 1917 "A Full House" Fred Jackson Comedy '' [36][31]
July 1-7, 1917 "Hit-the-Trail Holliday" Comedy '' [37]
July 8-13, 1917
July 15-21, 1917 "Some Baby" Comedy '' [38][32]
July 22-28, 1917 "Thelma" Marie Corell Drama '' [38]
July 29-August 4, 1917 "In the Bishop's Carriage" '' [39]
August 5-11, 1917 "Believe Me, Nantippe" Comedy '' [40]
August 12-18, 1917 "A Pair of Queens" Comedy '' [41]
August 19-25, 1917 "Charlie's Aunt" Comedy '' [42]
August 26-September 1, 1917 "A Pair of Sixes" Comedy '' [42]

Other Performances

Frank Robinson showed off his trained elephants for the first two weeks.

J.C. Newman of New York City was commissioned to perform "Life in the Trenches," an exhibition featuring electric effects and pyrotechnics recreating the frontline experiences of soldiers entering World War I.[43][36]

Six hundred Ladies' Auxiliary of the Machinist Union members performed a human flag for the Labor Day celebration. It included 20 branches in Central Ohio counties.[44]

An imported diving team performed in the new pool twice daily after its opening.[39]

Dad Straley's Jungleland Show[45]


  1. "Two Park Openings." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 15 April 1917. Pg. 56.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Present and Future at Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 20 May 1917. Pg. 49.
  3. "Local No. 103, Columbus, Ohio." The International Musician. Vol. 15. Issue 12. June 1917. Pg. 6.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Olentangy News." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 8 April 1917. Pg. 42.
  5. "Poor Weather Closed Park." The New York Clipper. 27 June 1917. Pg. 14.
  6. Ad. The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 6 May 1917. Pg. 49.
  7. "Over 26,000 at Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 6 August 1917. Pg. 16.
  8. "Big Park Is Opening." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 27 May 1917. Pg. 49.
  9. "Park Open Until Thanksgiving." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 2 September 1917. Pg. 54.
  10. "Rides Run at Week Ends." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 18 September 1917. Pg. 20.
  11. "Park Novelties." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 31 March 1918. Pg. 51.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Ad. The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 27 May 1917. Pg. 49.
  13. "Echoes from the Firing Squad." The National Mazda Stimulator. Vol. 6. September 1917. Pg. 14.
  14. "Parks Open as May Comes In." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 29 April 1917. Pg. 63.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Vaude for Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 6 May 1917. Pg. 48.
  16. "Canoeing." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 29 April 1917. Pg. 20.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "New Park Pool Second Largest of Its Kind in United States." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 15 July 1917. Pg. 42.
  18. "Suits Disappear." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 19 August 1917. Pg. 58.
  19. "Pool Prospects." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 3 June 1917. Pg. 52.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Whirlie-Girlie at the Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 3 June 1917. Pg. 53.
  21. Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 April 1917. Pg. 20.
  22. "Mr. 'Bob' Improving." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 1 May 1917. Pg. 22.
  23. "Humphry Pearson." Photo. The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 22 April 1917. Pg. 58.
  24. "Stroller Play Tonight." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 4 May 1917. Pg. 32.
  25. "The University Players." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 5 May 1917. Pg. 10.
  26. "Canoeing." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 20 May 1917. Pg. 20.
  27. "Olentangy Theater." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 3 June 1917. Pg. 25.
  28. "Announce Winners of Park Theater Contest." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 10 June 1917. Pg. 12.
  29. "In Park and Theater." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 5 June 1917. Pg. 20.
  30. "Charming Miss Wakefield." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 10 June 1917. Pg. 45.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 "Buhler Players at Olentangy Park." The Billboard. Vol. 29. Issue 26. 30 June 1917. Pg. 21.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 "Stock Company Has Big Week at Olentangy Park, Columbus." The Billboard. Vol. 29. Issue 28. 14 July 1917. Pg. 21.
  33. "Stock at Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 17 June 1917. Pg. 15.
  34. "New Vehicle for Buhler." The Billboard. Vol. 29. 1 September 1917. Pg. 4.
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Pool is Thoroughly Scrubbed." Columbus Evening Dispatch.14 June 1917. Pg. 10.
  36. 36.0 36.1 "Seventeen In Stock Cast." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 25 June 1917. Pg. 12.
  37. "Big Demand for 'Holliday'." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 29 June 1917. Pg. 28.
  38. 38.0 38.1 "Pool's Present Prospects." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 19 July 1917. Pg. 21.
  39. 39.0 39.1 "New Pool and 'Thelma.'" Columbus Evening Dispatch. 26 July 1917. Pg. 18.
  40. "Hot Weather Helps Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 1 August 1917. Pg. 18.
  41. "Comedy Gets Under Way." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 14 August 1917. Pg. 16.
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Moose to Picnic at Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch.23 August 1917. Pg. 18.
  43. "Pyrotechnics." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 17 June 1917. Pg. 46.
  44. "Planning Human Flag." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 15 July 1917. Pg. 10.
  45. "Johnny J. Jones' Luck." The Billboard. Vol. 29. Issue 45. 10 November 1917. Pg. 34.