Friday, January 25, 2008

Grafton Hill's Oldest

Grafton Hill seems pretty “new” architecturally, particularly the better known part of the neighborhood around Stoddard Circle. But there is this house on Central that looks quite old. It has the trad I-house form, with an L rear, but not set with the gable end to the street, the way most are in Dayton.
So lets use it as an armature around which to discuss a bit of neighborhood development.

Here is a map of some features of early Grafton Hill, mostly before the Civil War. The first bridge in Dayton was the Dayton View bridge: there has been a river crossing on this site since the early 1800s.

The bridge drove road alignments as shortcuts. Tate’s Mill Road is a good example, breaking off the Covington Pike (Main Street) & gaining the river at the mill at the head of Steele’s Race, then angling around the base of Steele Hill to reach the bridgehead.

Steele's hill was a popular community picnic ground due to the view over the river to Dayton town.

Tate's Mill Road was eventually renamed Forest Avenue.

As this was a good location for a bridgehead settlement there was at reportedly at least one aborted town plat (“Pierceton”) in the vicinity, then some large lots laid out west of Salem. The first surviving Grafton Hill town lot plat apparently was by John Steele in 1847.

By the end of the 1860s the area had developed into an area called Dayton View, which at that time meant the area mostly east of Salem. Nothing was developed east of the bridge.

A map of the plat history (one can see how “Grafton Hill” developed as two neighborhoods mostly separated by the Van Ausdal property, which was subdivided in 1910-12.

The black line on the map was an early horse car line, the second in the city, which connectd the 1869 "Dayton View" plats to the city, and then extended on to Oakwood.

One can assume replatting over time, but the old house sits on that 1847 plat. So 1847,48 as the oldest date, perhaps.
Grafton Hill in 1869, the year the elite Central and Superior “Dayton View” plats were made. A small bridgehead community is visible, as is a brewery, and a scattering of houses on “Low’s Lots”.

One can also see property lines driven by the US rectangular coordinate survey quarter sections, but also some survey lines derived from the river and roads

The old house again, with the rear L slightly visible. Some decorative shutters have been removed exposing the red brick under the whitewash. The central chimney seems to indicate this is a “double pen I house’ without a central hall; two rooms side-by-side, sharing a central chimney. A common vernacular style in the Ohio Valley (a bit more in Kentucky than here, though).

The 1869 map again, enlarged and the likely house circled. There is a little inset view of the Dayton View covered bridge (probably not the original one) and the river in flood, from the Lutzenberger collection. My guess at the camera location is that little red arrow.

And the Lutzenberger pix. The house circled. The Van Ausdal mansion is probably the house just to the right
And to verify. A side elevation with identical fenestration and chimney arrangement as the blow-up in the inset. Wood frame extension probably happened later

So, the oldest house in Grafton Hill, perhaps from before the Civil War, appearing on maps and pix from the 19th century and surviving against all odds down to our era. One of the enjoyable things about doing neighborhood history is finding these old survivors still on-site.


Foreverglow said...

Nice post, Jeff. Interesting about rowhouses being in the area previously. I'm always amazed at the incredibly low number of rowhouses in the city. Why is that? Are they only prevalent in certain regions or is it a time period thing?

Also, I'm not familiar with the Van Ausdal mansion. What's it's story (is it still around even)? We should start up a thread over at UOhio about the grandest mansions in Dayton. The Bossler has to be a top 3 for me.

Jefferey said...

I think there were more rowhouses but not of the east-coast variety.

These where blocks of buildings, like
Marvin Garderns, or that building at the corner of Salem and the river. There were some up on Salem, too.

A lot was torn down. But Dayton, like most other midwest citys, was mostly single family. For multifamily there were forms of the duplex (in Dayton it was the double), or apartments were used. Or doubling up on lots.


The Ausdal house is not around. I don't known when it was torn down, or much about it, really. I think that image with bridge is the only visual evidence, unless others know more.

Whats interesting is that the property stayed undeveloped so late.

The grandest 19th century mansions in Dayton are probably the ones still on Superior, though a few are hidden away in the neighborhoods (like the Bossler house).