Franklinton was the original settlement in central Ohio, founded in 1797 by Lucas Sullivant. The neighborhood is nicknamed the Bottoms because the land lies below the level of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. The Bottoms flooded in 1852, 1859, 1862, and the Great Flood of 1913 took place on March 25. The wooden levees holding the Scioto collapsed causing up to 17 feet of water to inundate the Franklinton streets. Luckily for us, the Franklinton Floodwall was completed in 2004, encouraging a resurgence of growth and art in the neighborhood.
The original structure was built in 1910 by the D.A. Ebinger Sanitary Manufacturing Company. Ultimately coming to be known as EBCO, the sanitary porcelain manufacturing company eventually invented the public drinking fountain as we know it. When EBCO left in the 1950s the building housed tenants like Sweden Freezer, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Eickholt Glass. 400 West Rich moved into the building in 2011 and shortly thereafter Strongwater was born from the creative spirits of 400 West Rich, with whom we share our historic home.
The event space opened in August of 2013, the bar opened in October, and the kitchen was open by January of 2014.
The Strongwater bar is located in what once was the lobby of EBCO – we still use the administrative offices for semi-private dining. We’ve done our best to preserve and feature the original materials from the building, including the original sawtooth windows in the event space ceiling, the Terrazzo flooring with the EBCO logo, Birch wood repurposed into the bar and tables, displays of strange archaic machinery, and massive tools and bolts that look like they were made for an ancient race of giants.
In recognition of Franklinton’s flood-filled history, Strongwater features an enormous mural of Grace Darling’s famous portrait on one wall of the bar and restaurant. Born into a lighthouse owner’s family, Grace Darling battled some strong water herself in the early morning on September 7, 1838 after she spotted the shipwrecked sailors of the SS Forfarshire marooned on a nearby rocky island. She and her father risked dangerously stormy seas and set out in a rowboat to rescue the men. The courage that Grace and her family displayed caused her to be a media celebrity in her day, and a museum was established in 1938 to commemorate her life and bravery.
Today, Strongwater strives to be the forerunner in innovational communal gathering in the growing Franklinton arts community, constantly expanding and changing to meet the needs required to encompass both an elevated dining experience and an atmosphere that hearkens to our roots as a neighborhood bar. Whether you want a hopping happy hour, your wedding in our event space, a food menu with more than one vegan option, a quick bite before strolling through 400 West Rich, or a relaxing nightcap on our patio, there’s a place for you here.
Photos By Adam Lowe Photography (Strongwater Building), Rosey Red Photography (Couches) and 222 Photography (Street Signs)