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Home to Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware has many of the characteristics attributed to an American university town. From tree-lined sidewalks with historic homes and buildings, to the vibrant array of boutiques, bookstores, antique shops, art studios and variety of restaurants that make up downtown. This area truly has it all, and I'd love to show you around.

- Sandy Raines

Our Top Picks

  • Bun's Restaurant

    With a history dating back to the 1860s, this restaurant started as a popular bakery and expanded into the amazing restaurant and local favorite that it is today.

  • Delaware Antique Mall

    Whether you are buying or selling, this antique mall is one in a million. With a 10,600 square foot space filled with charming and fabulous antiques, this place is a must see!

  • Olentangy Indian Caverns

    Created by an underground river, the Olentangy Indian Caverns offer excursion and adventure through the remarkable passages, which were used by the Wyandotte Indians.

The History of Delaware

In 1804, Moses Byxbe arrived in Delaware from Berkshire County, Massachusetts to survey the large number of land grants given to him in payment for his Revolutionary War service. On May 9, 1808, an official plan for the town of Delaware, Ohio was filed. Long before Byxbe’s arrival, the region was occupied by the Delaware Native Americans, who shared the territory with the Mingos and other tribes.

Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States, was born in Delaware and met his future wife, Lucy, at Ohio Wesleyan University. The university was founded in 1842, and the original Mansion House building, known as Elliott Hall, is still situated on campus.

Prior to the Civil War, abolitionists brought the Underground Railway through the area. Camp Delaware, a Civil War-era Union camp, was one of the few which housed African-Americans before their deployment. By 1900, Delaware had its own electric street railway and an interurban rail system connected the city with Columbus and Marion. The area’s history is evident in the many 19th century buildings and homes that are still standing today.

The city of Delaware is more than the sum of its parts. It is more than a bedroom community twenty-four miles north of Columbus. It is more than the home of Ohio Wesleyan University, a private independent liberal arts college. It is more than the county seat or a town of farmers. It is a community whose real value is its intangible desire to maintain its own identity and unique rural culture in the face of metropolitan pressures.

How It All Started

Founded in 1808, Delaware overlooks the Olentangy River that flows through Central Ohio. For several decades throughout the late 1800’s and the first half the 1900’s it was a popular resort community entertaining the well-to-do from Columbus. Today, an old spa building still remains on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan.

As the century moved on and Americans began to spread out, new residents, businesses, and industry began to move in, allowing the area to grow at a modest pace. With the boom of the 1990’s, the county became one of the fastest growing in the nation.

Walking through the Saturday morning farmers market will provide you with great insight into the dynamics of the city of Delaware, as well as the character of its residents. At the farmers market, you'll uncover a variety of unique antique shops, clothing stores, used book stores, and restaurants that often populate small college towns. Together, these retailers keep the downtown district vibrant and alive. Residents have gone to great length to preserve the historic feel and look of downtown by taking steps to protect the buildings and attract just the right mix of commerce.

How to Live like a Local

Here, residents enjoy outdoor fun in 16 parks, including the 50-acre Mingo Park, the site of the Jack Florance swimming pool, a 13,000 square foot skate park and the par-28 Hidden Valley Municipal Golf Course. Fishing is available year-round (weather permitting) at Blue Limestone, Smith, and Mingo Parks. Activities and programs for everyone from tots to seniors are run by the YMCA of Central Ohio.

Other exciting pastimes include star gazing at the Perkins Observatory, exploring the Olentangy Indian Caverns, learning about organic farming at the Stratford Ecological Center, and enjoying new releases and classics at the Strand Theatre. A year-round series of performing arts takes place at Ohio Wesleyan University, where you'll also find the Richard M. Ross art museum.

Events span the seasons in this small Ohio town—some of the most popular are the All Horse Parade, the Delaware County Fair running since 1833, the Little Brown Jug harness race, the Castle Arts Affair, the Delaware Arts Festival, and the Blast from the Past Cruise-In, a historic car show.

Many new restaurants are located in the Historic Downtown District, along with favorites that have been part of the downtown for over 60 years. Bun’s Restaurant is a local landmark, serving comfort food since 1864 from its current downtown location.

Schools and Universities

Students attend the Delaware City School District, which has consistently earned Ohio’s highest academic ratings. These schools emphasize maximizing student performance and providing a safe and effective learning environment for all students. This district operates several neighborhood elementary schools serving students Pre-K through 4, an intermediate building for students in grades 5 and 6, a 7th and 8th grade middle school, and a 9-12 high school. 

If you would prefer a different educational experience, there are plenty of private schools around the area to better serve your child. Local private schools include St. Mary School, and Delaware Christian School. More information on private schools can be found here.

Is your student planning their next steps after graduation? You're in luck—there are plenty of public and private institutions in the Delaware area. Here, you'll find the renowned liberal arts institution, Ohio Wesleyan University, Columbus State Community College and Franklin University.

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