Flatiron building history.
One of Columbus' oddest structures stands on a tiny pie-shaped plot facing North Fourth Street at Naghten Street. Its other two sides are hugged by Locust and Lazelle streets, Its smallest side-but its principal facade, architecturally-is barely eight feet wide but an impressive four stories high. The structure was built by one of Columbus' best-loved Irishmen.
The builder's name and the date, "H. A. HIGGINS 1914, are carved in a stone which still crowns the structure. His given name was Herbert Aloysius, but to everyone he was "Myrt." Here's why:
At six he started to school at venerable St. Patrick's. His mother's pride was his long, golden curls which he wore, all unsuspecting, to school. The "young ruffians" at St. Pat's delightedly dubbed him "Myrtle" and so humiliated him that he ran home vowing never to return. His big sister, Mary, soon got at the truth and risking maternal hysterics, whisked him to a barber to be shorn. Next day short-haired Herbert got a shortened nickname. They dubbed him "Myrt" and it stuck all his life.
The little flatiron building, buill while he was still a youth, was largely his own conception. With a saloon in the narrow end, a grocery in the wide end (25 feet) and apartments above, young Myrt was, indeed, an entrepeneur.
Business boomed the first year as the new Fourth Street viaduct was being built Construction men and railroad men thronged his place. His, beautiful solid-cherry bar was seldom empty. People liked the place, and they Iiked the prcprietor, whose kindness, wit and generosity were legends. When circuses loaded in the B. and O. yards Myrt stayed open all hours to accommodate the show folk. Needy neighbors could always counnt on a bit of credit to tide them over a tight spot. Prohibition changed the saloon to a restaurant, but still it was a favorlte spot for Irishmen and others.
When Myrt Higgins died in 1943 he Was mourned by all who know him. They tell of the first St. Patrick's Day parade after his death. It formed as usual, at the irish saint's own church and marched down Naghten. As the marchers came opposite the wedge-shape building they paused, Hats came off, and a moment of silence for Myrt was observed before the parade moved on.