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Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser
Photo by Brain Kaiser

Under the Big Top

Sells Circus House gets a new owner, look

You know what’s remarkable?

That the most whimsical home in Columbus was once party to an epic divorce and was a gathering place for alcoholics.

Of course, it also was a daycare and a Fraternal Order of Police lodge, making the history of the Sells Circus House as colorful as the big-top tents its first owner used to prop up all over the country.

Now, the house has a new ringleader—insurance man Wes Wolfe who, as only the home’s seventh (private) owner, is setting his sights on restoring the home to its “original grandeur and purpose.”

You said that purchasing this house was about fellowship. Not everyone is like that—many just want to have their home and not have it be a big deal. What draws you to want a place that you somewhat share with the community?

The home is such a magnetic draw and has so much intrigue in the community with the history and myths … it has just naturally happened. The home was built by the Sells Family largely to entertain and welcome people in. As I get more and more involved in the local community, it has naturally started to become that. A place to bring great people into my house—all locally engaged, passionate, and hustling in their own careers and in life.

You said you were energized by the purchase, whereas it would be easy to be immediately overwhelmed. What makes you different in scenarios like this? Why is this your jam?

I thrive and am motivated in situations that to most seem to be impossible things to take on and balance. I had a vision for my business, Wolfe Insurance Group when I purchased it from my father, and a similar thing happened when the opportunity to purchase the Circus House came about. The stars aligned perfectly … when I first walked in the house—the energy and vibes—I knew instantly where I was supposed to be. It was a huge thing to take on, but I thrive on risks and my entrepreneurial spirit!

What were the places you lived in before this one? This is quite the upgrade…

I had a small cape cod house in Gahanna that I bought when I was 20 and lived in for 16 years; great home, and the old Gahanna area was really cool. When I moved my company downtown in 2016, I had a great opportunity to buy a house in German Village across from Hausfrau Haven.. I loved the house! I bought it for around $600,000; with same philosophy of being involved in community, I was on the Home and Garden Tour in 2016 and from that got an offer for over $1 million for my house … it wasn’t even on the market. That was too good to turn down. The same luck and turn of events took me to the Circus House—and here I am.

What was your house like growing up, in both feel and look? Did your parents entertain a lot? What was the decor like?

We grew up in Gahanna. My dad owned the insurance business and my mom was a school teacher for 35 years. The décor was modern and current to the period; they entertained, but not to the level I [do]. Having a family with active kids made it difficult, whereas my situation is completely opposite.

Did you ever think you’d be living in a million-dollar house? (Just like on those TV shows!)

Never in a million years! [laughs]  I actually saw pictures of the Circus House in the paper 10 years ago or so and had no interest at all. But since then, my life experiences and growth brought me to the place with a different perspective. It was understanding the importance of the home in the community, the incredible story, the architecture, ambiance, and energy.

How much of the old decor from the previous owners have you kept?

I have pretty much redone the entire home in three months… repainting the entire home, gutting and redoing four bathrooms, all floors, painted the entire house and have redone 7,400-square-foot of hardwood. And [I’m] putting in a pool in this summer…

What are your favorite parts of the house? And with so much to explore, are you still finding new highlights since you moved in?

I love the entire house—literally every room. I gravitate most to the Tent Room in the front, just because of the cool décor and the awesome view of the park. I also love the kitchen area which is very open and easy to move around. But with so many guests so intrigued by the entire place, I always go to where they want to spend time the most.

Parking may not be simple, but no one will ever struggle with directions to your house ever again. What are some other pros of being the owner of the Circus House?

Well I do have a six-car garage and two driveways. The home is so welcoming and intimate despite the size—it really is a masterpiece! I wake up every day and can’t believe I am lucky enough to call it my home. I want to continue to pay respect to the history and intended purpose: sharing it, using it as a way to meet great people, network, collaborate, and keep paying it forward for the amazing city of Columbus, Ohio.

Cons?

The cons would just be the upkeep. I say, like previous owners, that I am merely a caretaker—and that is a huge undertaking with keeping everything up and preserved.

 

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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