Poindexter Tower

The OES visited Poindexter Tower on July 15, 2009. Located on the former site of the Mount Vernon Avenue School, the ten-story Poindexter Tower was built in 1960 as one of the nation’s first public housing developments. Named for Rev. James Preston Poindexter, Columbus’ first African American city council member, the tower provided low-cost apartments to the elderly through the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). Poindexter Tower was not located in the best of neighborhoods, however, and crime soon followed.

Crime had become a common occurrence at Poindexter Tower by the 1980s. One Columbus police officer stated there were hundreds of incidents of crime against elderly CMHA residents, including robbery, rape, assault, burglary, and vandalism. Residents were frequent victims of vandalism and harassment, in particular by juveniles who knew the housing units were unguarded. In May 1983, 89-year-old Clifford Jackson was found murdered in his ninth-floor apartment at Poindexter Tower. His neck had been broken. But this would not be the last murder at the tower.

In December 1988, 72-year-old Roxie Johnson was found dead in her tenth-floor apartment. She had been beaten and strangled, but there was no sign of forced entry to the apartment. Police began looking for her relatives, and nearly three days later, tower employees discovered her son’s body in a stairwell. Irvin Johnson had been beaten to death as well, probably on the same day as his mother. In January 1989, police arrested Tommy Morgan and charged him with double murder. Police believed Morgan killed Irvin over a microwave oven debt dispute and that he killed Roxie in a panic after she caught him burglarizing her apartment. This was not the first time Morgan had killed someone. In the late 1960s, Morgan killed a man after a knife fight in Columbus but was exonerated by reason of self-defense. Two days after his arrest, Tommy Morgan was found hanging in his jail cell. He had committed suicide. Later in that year, CMHA hired off-duty Columbus police officers to help curb drug trafficking and provide security at the tower.

In 1996, developer Charles Adrian bought Poindexter Tower for one dollar and received $2.4 million in federal remodeling grants to make upgrades. The project was apparently abandoned, although Adrian claimed that the entire $2.4 million had indeed been used to upgrade the tower. Tower residents did not agree and had many drawn-out arguments with the tower’s new owner. A decade later, in 2006, the tower was deemed too costly to salvage. Riddled with asbestos, in need of a new roof and boiler, and having suffered heavy vandalism, most of the tower’s residents had moved out. Those who remained moved out by the end of 2008. Poindexter Tower stood empty in the shadow of a wrecking ball as the Franklin County treasurer’s office painstakingly foreclosed on each of the tower’s apartments and received the court’s approval for demolition. Their goal was to have Poindexter Tower demolished by the end of 2010. Demolition of the tower began on October 17, 2012, and the tower was nothing more than a memory shortly thereafter.

Location Information: Demolished

Poindexter Tower was located at 1253 Mount Vernon Avenue in Columbus; Franklin County.