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Historic marker for Ohio's longest-running lesbian bar damaged one month after its dedication

 A sign post sits in front of a fenced-in patio at a music all.
George Shillcock
The post that held the historical marker for the former Summit Station lesbian bar sits in front of what is now Summit Music Hall on Summit Street. The sign was damaged Saturday night when a man hit it with his hand and it snapped at the base.

The historical marker recognizing Summit Station, Ohio’s longest-running lesbian bar, has come down just a month after it was dedicated.

Julia Applegate, who helped organize the effort to recognize the historic bar, said the marker was damaged Saturday night.

Surveillance video from what is now Summit Music Hall shows a man slapping the marker as he passes. The sign snaps at the base and falls, apparently startling him and his dog. The man kept walking.

“Until we know more, we are reserving judgment, but of course have to wonder if this was done as an act of homophobia,” Applegate wrote in an email to WOSU.

Ohio History Connection runs the state historical marker program. Ohio History Connection spokesperson Neil Thompson said the statewide history organization and the Summit Station sign sponsors – the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, Friends of Summit Station, and Stonewall Columbus – are looking into why the sign broke and working to get it back up as soon as possible.

Ohio History Connection’s procedure for fixing damaged signs officially leaves repair costs to the organization listed for “maintenance of marker,” but Thompson noted that if the cause was a manufacturing problem, that could change things.

All of Ohio’s official historical markers have been made at Sewah Studios in Marietta since 1957.

There are over 1,700 historical markers in the state, with at least three in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. Each year, Ohio History Connection places 20 to 30 new markers, which are usually chosen from twice as many applications, Thompson said.

Markers are funded by a combination of grants, private funds and local sponsors.

Summit Station, also known as Jack’s or Jack’s A Go Go, was a safe space for lesbians from the 70s until it closed in 2008. Its marker is just the third in the state recognizing LGBTQ+ history. The other two markers are located in Dayton and Cleveland.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.