Old Oaks is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Columbus. It was developed from a 19th-century farm owned by John Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Roys Smith. The first deed for Old Oaks dates back to 1824; at that time it encompassed an area of 20 acres about three miles north of downtown Columbus.
In 1850, their son Samuel sold off nine acres near what had been dubbed “Roy’s Woods” in honor of Mrs. Roys Smith after her death more than 25 years earlier (giving rise to present-day Northwood Avenue). Mr. Smith died on July 27, 1865, leaving his entire estate – including the remaining 11 acres – to Drury Lacy Hamer as executor who then signed over all rights and title to the land to his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hamer.
The mansion that stood on what is now Northwood Avenue was originally a farmhouse and served as Drury Lacy Hamer’s residence from 1865 until 1876 when he sold off most of the property in Old Oaks for development into residential lots. The house still stands today at 1402 Northwood Ave (currently owned by Ohio Wesleyan University).
It has been used for many years as an annex to their nearby Wilkie Hall dormitory building where it housed female students during the 1960s-1980s when there were not enough rooms available inside Wilkie Hall due to overcrowding.