The Land Ohio University Sits On: Then And Now Interactive

Historic photos courtesy of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum .

After photos by © Kirstie Schons 2016

The land that Ohio University sits on in Athens, OH has a deep history. The first European settlers arrived to Southeast Ohio in 1797, but for most of Athens’ history, Ohio University has sat on a majority of Athens land. The University which was established in 1804 has evolved over time. OU affects the economy, the people, and the land in Athens and its rich history is important in understanding why Athens is the way it is today. Shops, restaurants, and families have come and gone, but the infrastructure that stands in this town seems to have remained the same. What do you think? Take a look for yourself:

Alumni Gateway during the holidays looks a lot more festive in the 1940s than it does during February of 2016.



Class Gateway in the 1960s is almost identical to its future look in 2016, however, it might be getting a makeover. This section of college green will be under construction during the following months.



Did you know this statue that sits in College green is named the Soldiers and Sailors Monument? The before picture is from the 1930s. It is crazy how little has changed after 86 years.



Athens used to light up the town square with a giant Christmas tree.



The Athena which is over 100 years old was once Schine’s Athena.



According to the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, “the armory was originally built as storage and drill space for Company L of the 7th Ohio National Guard.”



Hocking Canal during the 1873 flood versus 2016. In both you can see the Asylum. The first photo is five years after the Asylum was built, and one year before it began seeing patients.



The old train station on Union Street was crowded with travelers back in 1907.


Before Photo: © Ken Steinhoff – All Rights Reserved.

National Guardsmen stand outside what used to be Beckley’s after protests erupted the night before. The protest era at Ohio University was heightened after four Kent State students were killed on May 4, 1970, by National Guardsmen. In 2016, the building now stands as the College Bookstore.



Casa Nueva and Artifacts sit on West State as if time has not touched them from 1975 to 2016.



In 1978, before the Athens County Historical Society and Museum moved into this property on Court Street, it was home to Bill’s Army and Navy Store. Before that? The building built in the 1920s was also a car dealership and repair garage.



The Hocking Valley Bank has endured the test of time; however, The Head Cellar and Carol Lee Donut Shop have been replaced. Donuts for bagels seems like an unfair trade.



This family photo from 1916 shows S.D. (Dave) Thompson’s men’s store which has now transformed into the Cat’s Eye.



There’s no denying that whether it be 1914 or 2016, the beauty of Athens, OH has remained intact.

Do you see a change? Comment below your thoughts or tweet at us @ATNUnearthed.

Historic photos courtesy of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum .

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Lily Rhodehamel
Senior | Journalism major


  • Nice job on the historical comparison. I love Ohio U and it’s history in Ohio.

  • Nice job on the historical comparison. I love OU and its history and location.

  • The ‘Troops” pix was in 1970 following the Kent State shootings. Colleges ‘closed’ one after another nation-wide after student protests turned violent. As they closed, student poured onto campuses ‘not closed’ to continue their demonstrations against the shooting and against the Viet Nam war. As Ohio University was the last to dismiss early for summer break, a huge influx of students from across the country descended on Athens. I was a Campus Ministry Pastor an recall the hysteria in Athens when the Governor sent national Guard Troops there 3 weeks after Kent State. I was Tear gassed with a large mob of unruly students (I was just getting pix, of course) on the College Green. Armed Troops stood on downtown roof tops and Jeeps with mounted Machine Guns patrolled the streets. National guard units stood shoulder to shoulder with live ammo in their rifles thru-out the downtown areas. A scary time, for sure ….

  • Any reason why you didn’t try to line up the pictures? The whole point of the before/after slider thing is that photographs completely line up, you could at least try to crop the new pictures similarly to the old ones.

  • Fascinating how different today’s cameras are from earlier models. We are entering a new wide-angle reality.

  • And I remember when the library used to be in the building where the historical society is…

  • As an alumni Of O.U. and also someone who loves the area and the history, I really enjoyed the pictures. The comments are also extraordinary and tend to make the jaw drop. I appreaciate the pictures and the effort. Thanks.

    P.S. Marianne… are you/were you Smead…like Snead but with a “m”?

  • Lots of copyediting issues here. The photos are interesting, but this was frustrating to use. You should consider including brief instructions for users on using the slider thing. I clicked all over these photos a dozen times trying to get the whole pic…and didn’t get it until I read what to do in one of these comments.

  • I like this post. Interesting to see the pictures. I can really relate to the pictures. I was attending OU back in 1978. And to-day Ohio University Town Athens looks almost the same. I am looking forward to visit the campus may be in 2020. And I wonder whether I would be able to meet Mr. Allen Boyd who was my International Student Advisor. And I wonder whether I would be able to find those incense and herbal shops uptown.
    Thanks for the pictures.

  • How could I get a copy of the picture of S. David Thompson at his clothing store? He was my grandmother’s brother.

  • The 1960 picture brings back memories. I was there. Curfew for the first time. One Saturday I was out after curfew waiting for the coach. He didn’t come and didn’t come. I called home and Daddy came and got me. Never said a word. The coach showed up about 2:30 am. He had been in the Reserves and their truck had broken down.

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