Jun 30, 2023 - Business

The lasting legacy of Columbus' Summit Station bar

Summit Station bar owner Petie Brown sits atop the roof in an undated picture. Photo: Priscilla Ridall

The newest historical marker in town honors a bar that one former patron called the "soul of the lesbian community."

The marker: Summit Station at 2210 Summit St., now a music hall.

  • This is the first LGBTQ+ historical marker in Columbus and just the third in all of Ohio.

Flashback: Summit Station operated between 1980 and 2008 as a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ residents.

  • It was a true neighborhood bar that hosted first dates and breakups, celebrations and wakes, festive concerts and fundraisers to pay for customers' medical treatments.

What they're saying: Julia Applegate, a regular at Summit Station who helped organize and fundraise for the marker, says a documentary about the bar is in the works.

  • "It's hard to put into words what that place meant to [the lesbian community]," she tells Axios.
  • "You were never alone when you walked in there."

The big picture: There's an irony, Applegate believes, in the decline of lesbian-centered spaces just as more Americans are accepting of LGBTQ+ rights.

  • "We can blend in anywhere," she says. "It's an unintended consequence of broader social acceptance."
  • Applegate hopes more historical markers will be installed to better recognize the city's LGBTQ+ history.
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