Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dave Hall's Penthouse

There is an urban legend about this building, that the mayor of Dayton lived in a penthouse on the roof:

This legend is true! The mayor was Dave Hall, serving on the city commission from 1963 and as mayor from 1965 to his resignation in 1970 due to health problems. Hall is named by the city directories as living there around this time.
Architecturally the design is ahead of its time for Dayton, An early postmodern design , with the black screen element with the outlined windows and keystones, and then a touch of Mies Van Der Rohe or Phillip Johnson, with the big steel and glass pavilion and window walls.

One of the things I found out was that this building was apartments, not just the penthouse. The Sam Hall Apartments (named after one of Hall's sons?). Four floors, ten apartments per floor, including the fifth floor with those big French door windows.

Can you imagine living in such a grand space? With huge ceilings and big windows that swing open to provide a view of the city?

Apparently the place was converted to apartments in the early 1960s (it was originally an Elks lodge), and stayed apartments into the mid 1980s. By 1988 it was back to offices.

What a loss.

Dave Hall was a loss too, maybe even a tragic figure.

Hall could have been one of the better mayors, and he was certainly a big advocate for downtown and renewal to compete with the suburbs. The urban unrest & racial strife of the 1960s intervened and Hall’s plans for downtown came to naught.

The Dayton Mall opened in 1970, the same year Hall resigned, pretty much ending downtown as a retail destination. Hall died in 1971, so he was spared a penthouse view of the slow destruction of the downtown he championed.

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