Andre and Eleanor Gelpi
Andre and Eleanor Gelpi purchased the home in 1947 for $50,000 (approximately $677,000 in 2018 dollars). At the time, both Andre and Eleanor were working for Swan Cleaners, the dry cleaning and laundry company that Eleanor had founded in 1937. Andre had previously served as a senior executive with F & R Lazarus and Co.; however, at the birth of their third son in 1945, Andre left Lazarus and took over his wife’s rapidly growing company. Eleanor cut back on her daily involvement with Swan Cleaners and devoted herself to raising their three sons.
The prominent location of the house along the Scioto River was perfect for parties both indoors and out, and it was well used throughout the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. The house was frequently the site for fundraisers and other arts and philanthropic events, but was also the scene of many family and social gatherings. More than 300 people were hosted indoors at the Gelpi’s annual Christmas parties. Invitations to the annual Fourth of July party were coveted. More than 600 guests would gather for an all-American cookout, a full dance band and an hour-long fireworks display. A number of celebrities attended these grand events over the years, including Audrey Hepburn, Jayne Mansfield, Perry Como and Mrs. Lou Gehrig. Many prominent Ohio politicians were also regular visitors to the home, including Congressman Chalmers P. Wylie and Governor James A. Rhodes.
An Artistic Legacy
The life of this historic home has come full circle with its transformation into the Dublin Arts Center. Eleanor Gelpi, its longest resident, was a great supporter of the arts in Columbus, regularly attending performances and events in addition to the fundraisers she hosted here.
Eleanor devoted her time and energy to nearly every major arts institution in Columbus, holding positions on countless committees and boards of trustees, including the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ohio Arts Council, Ballet Met, Opera Columbus, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA). Eleanor Gelpi was also instrumental in saving historic 1928 movie palace, The Ohio Theatre, from demolition in 1969. Her lifelong passion for the arts and reverberating impacts are still enjoyed today.
Eleanor Gelpi, with sons Paul (left) and Peter (right), circa 1962.