November 30, 2023

Furniture Bank

Swing Your Furniture Bank

Circus House in the Victorian Village Gets a Refresh

Paige and Jason Henry, owners of of the Victorian Village mansion

In the summer of 2020, Paige and Jason Henry were in the market for a house with a pool. The real estate market was heating up, and it limited their options. There was one house, however, that caught their eye: the iconic Circus House in Victorian Village overlooking Goodale Park.

The Henrys had toured the home a few years before when they attended the preview party for the Short North Tour of Homes & Gardens. But they never thought they’d soon become its owners.

“It never would have occurred to me that we could own a house like this,” says Jason. The couple was already enjoying the Victorian Village neighborhood while living nearby. Paige is president and owner of Dayton-based Riegel Financial, a financial planning company founded by her late father Farald Riegel. Jason retired early and fills his time serving as a guardian ad litem for Court Appointed Special Advocates, volunteering for SICSA Pet Adoption & Wellness Center, as well as being a board member for Friends of Goodale Park.

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The 127-year-old Circus House is a renowned Victorian Village mansion that overlooks Goodale Park.

Right around the time they began looking for their pool house, the Henrys discovered that the Circus House was up for auction and bids had failed to meet the minimum price. The once majestic property had suffered extensive damage both inside and out. It was scheduled for a second auction, and that’s when the Henrys placed the winning bid.

They quickly embarked on what would become a 14-month restoration project to bring the property back to its grandeur. “To think that we own it is still pretty bizarre,” Jason says.

Adds Paige, “We paid [almost] $880,000 for a fixer-upper.”

In its 127-year history, the house has been transformed multiple times after being built for circus impresario Peter Sells and his wife, Mary. Sells, with his brothers, owned the Sells Brothers Circus. It is likely no mistake that the home’s swooping rooflines somewhat resemble a Big Top. Noted Columbus architects Yost & Packard were its designers.

While Peter Sells traveled with the circus, Mary is said to have kept company at the home with William Bott, who owned Bott Brothers Billiards and Saloon—today the site of Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus. Their scandalous affair led to the Sells’ divorce, which made headlines in newspapers across the country.

After Peter Sells’ death in 1904, the home had various incarnations, once serving as House of Hope for Alcoholics and then as a lodge for the Fraternal Order of Police. United Commercial Travelers ran a society for traveling salesmen out of the house, and it operated for more than 30 years as a daycare center.