Friday, January 18, 2008

Grafton Hill Apartments I: Oldies but Goodies.

There was some mention and discussion last month in Dayton Most Metro and For the Love of Dayton about the proposed new apartment tower on Riverview, in Grafton Hill This would be the first market rate high-rise in Grafton Hill since the opening of Park Layne in 1970, and the first new housing since the 634 Apartments (which I think might be subsidized) opened in 1973.

Grafton Hill always seemed pretty unusual as it has such big old houses, including colonial revival and mock Tudor; a little Oakwood, practically on top to downtown. This is pretty unsual for cities in this region, where one finds similar neighborhoods a few miles out from the CBD, not this close-in.

I can think of only a few cities in the US that have something like this, like Hancock Park in LA, or maybe Russsian Hill in San Francisco.

The collection of apartments in Grafton Hill is also a bit unusual, as this is one of the few areas within the city that has some substantial and upscale apartment construction beyond the generic Dayton fourplexes.

Roaring Twenties Apartment Living

The apartment house era in Grafton Hill began in after WWI, mostly on the streets bounding the neighborhood.
The most impressive is the 10 story Commodore, the first elevator building in Grafton Hill, and the first high-rise outside of downtown. A good illustration of what a grand neighborhood this once was. In other places this would be a primo address. And the balcony buildings on Grand and Forest and Forest and Palmer are perhaps the most delightful, with the light brick, iron railings, and vaguely Spanish feel. Also on Grand, Chicago-style courtyard buildings. This massive three-building ensemble arranged around a courtyard, with an early adaptation to the automobile with the underground garage. I like the corner “French door” windows with railings at the corners. Closer to Salem, The Deluxe Apartments. This terra cotta extravaganza with a decorative brickwork fa├žade treatment is a perhaps closer in style to the generic Chicago-style courtyard building. Others included the Plymouth (1923), at Central and Plymouth, which was the first large apartment building on the interior streets of Grafton Hill. And Dolly Manor. Built in 1929 this was probably the last building to go up prior to the Depression (and note the neighboring relic of old Salem Avenue).

And that is it until 1944. If anything was built nothing survives from the 1930s and early WWII era.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating study of an area that often is ignored, but is one of the most attractive urban areas in Dayton. Keep showing us these things; maybe some day we will actually appreciate what we do have!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I love our dutch-colonial style house in Grafton Hill. The single-family homes there are well-loved by their owners, who are close knit and very diverse. They're enormous homes (some as big as 5K square feet with at least three floors), and a lot of work has gone into them in the last two decades. One by one, a handful of dilapated homes are being restored to their former glory. Many of them are some of the nicest historic homes in Dayton.
But the apartments are a problem (except for the Commodore, a beautiful and underappreciated building which is mostly empty). We fight drug and foot traffic from the pre-war and "film noir" apartments on lower Central avenue. Many beautiful homes were torn down to make room for these post-war apartment buildings, and most of us in the neighborhood see them as a lost cause and would tear them down with our own hands, no matter their history. Two buildings were recently purchased and remodeled, and I think all the tenants evicted and we've noticed a drop in crime traffic. But we question how well the new proposed building will fare in such close proximity to problem buildings.

Jefferey said...

I was wondering about the drug trade there when I was taking pix in the area.

Sidwalk pay phone at Plymouth & Central? Hmmn.

And I noticed a guy hanging out looking out over Grand from that railing on that courtyard at that big raised courtyard building on Grand sort of across from Grandview.

Made me suspect some sort of lookout thing going on.

Anonymous said...

I just bought an old colonial style home there and i love my house, despite the apartments close by, it is rather quiet there and sadly too many beautiful vacant houses..i hope to continue to see positive changes for Dayton