Friday, August 10, 2007

The Arcade Story in Four Parts

When I was heading down to the library to do some research back in June Leon Bey, who used to work in the local history room and still volunteers there, handed me a flyer for "Friends to Save the Arcade". After reading that I knew I had to help out.

Curious, and knowing there is a lot of hearsay around the Arcade, I decided to find out how the dire situation came to pass, and what was the history of these buildings at the very heart of downtown.
I became totally engrossed in the subject. I even some vacation time to research it, spending days and evenings in the history room poring over musty city directories, yellowed news clippings and grainy microfilm, as well as online research using the DDN archives, the digital Sanborns, and the libraries Lutezenberger photo collection.

Here is the result of this, a history of the Arcade in four parts. Hopefully this won't end up an online memorial to a building left to die from neglect.

1, The Arcade Block in the 19th Century An illustrated prehistory of the block, including some "rephotography" using modern pix taken by yer humble host, combined with images from of the libraries Lutzemberger collection plus old city and Sanborn insurance maps.

2. The Arcade 1904-1975 This is a history of how the building was used. I look at public markets in Dayton, the construction history, and the types of shops in the market and the arcade, the different apartments, and the interesting businesses in the office parts (including the involvement of the Beerman interests. Lots of graphs, diagrams and colored floor plans. I did a lot of work with the old city criss-cross directories to reconstruct the Arcade occupancy and what type of businesses where there, through time.

The next two would be of particular interest to those of you interested in local politics, economics, and political influence.

3. Redevelopment and Bankruptcy..Mid 1960s to 1984. I spent a lot of time on this part, which required a lot of work with the news clippings and microfilm, as well as old planning documents from the 1960s. Fortunately the library had things on file, and the D J-H and DDN did some good coverage of this project, including the financing, which was all well-preserved in the clipping files, so the record is out there.

4. Bankruptcy, closure, the "Danis Era", to today. This includes that Arcade Centre urban renewal project, the food court, and the fishy dealings & motivations (IMO) that brought control to Danis, and that long closed period, with some personal speculation from yours truly to wrap it all up. So, pour yourself some nice cold iced tea or lemonade, put some good music on, and settle in for a (I hope) interesting history of this downtown landmark.


Anonymous said...

Jeffrey--Excellent detective work! I've never seen such a complete story on the Arcade all in one post. I agree with your comment in the final article that if Dayton is unable to save the Arcade, it'll speak volumes about this community's leadership. On the other hand, if we are able to save the Arcade, I think it'll say even more.

Jefferey said...

Thanks, I really appreciate that! I didn't want to put all that in one thread or post, but linked to the various threads so people can pick and choose what they want to look at.

I'll be bloggin more on the Arcade in the future as it is a real sore spot with me.