Our History

Founded on May 10, 1916, just one year after Kiwanis began in Detroit, the Kiwanis Club of Columbus is the fifth-oldest club in Kiwanis International. The Club was created by a group of prominent Columbus businessmen and had an initial membership of 163 members. The Club remains one of the largest Kiwanis clubs in Ohio.

Often referred to as the “Downtown Club,” the Kiwanis Club of Columbus has contributed much to the community during its 100-year plus history. In 1921, the Club supported the establishment in Ohio of a rural police force, which later became the Ohio Highway Patrol.  In 1923, the Club established the Kiwanis Health Center in the Linden neighborhood of Columbus, with a primary goal of reducing the then high infant mortality rate. In 1937, the Club played a central role in the creation of the Columbus BoyChoir, which later moved to Princeton, New Jersey and became the American BoyChoir.

In 1977, the Club co-sponsored the creation of Crime Solvers Anonymous and remained active in its financial support, as well as in providing board members. In 1980 the Club created, with the cooperation of the Columbus city schools, the Columbus Kiwanis College Fair, which annually helps to connect high school seniors with representatives from over 170 colleges and universities.

History of Strong Leaders

The Kiwanis Club of Columbus is proud that the seventh President of Kiwanis International, Edmund Arras, was a member of our Club. We are proud too that many other Kiwanis clubs in central Ohio were sponsored by our Club or by clubs that we had previously sponsored.

Our Club’s presidents have included my interesting figures, including the Irish immigrant who became a noted business leader in our city; the brother of President Warren Harding; the Columbus lawyer who helped negotiate and write the organizational documents of Kiwanis International; Arthur Lamneck, the congressional representative from Columbus who gave a memorable address on national radio during the 1930s opposing the “court-packing” proposal of the leader of his party, President Franklin Roosevelt.

Club Traditions and Community Service

Traditions have been a strong part of the history of the Club. Events like our annual Presidents’ Parties and trustee campaigns are legendary. Even more important are lively fundraising events such as the Corporate Regatta and annual charity auction, whose successes assure the Club’s ever-increasing financial support of children’s programs.

Fundraising, fellowship and hands-on service to our community amply justify our claim to be the premier service organization in town. Annually, our Columbus Kiwanis Foundation places close to $100,000 back into the Columbus community through an active program of scholarships and competitive grants. In 2016, the Club celebrated its centennial through making special additional grants totaling $100,000. More recently, the Foundation contributed $75,000 to the completion of the children’s area at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

The Club also provides countless hours of volunteer work feeding the needy, helping children learn to read, supporting a variety of programs for the elderly and supporting a number of social service agencies with additional manpower during key family and childrens’ events. We are a Club that encourages our members to become involved in our community both physically and financially.

Please Join Us and Become Part of Our Family

We would welcome your participation, whether as a member of our Club or a donor to the Columbus Kiwanis Foundation. If you would like to learn more about us, please let us know. We would love to have you as our guest at one of our upcoming luncheon meetings.