Friday, September 19, 2008

Ingersoll Acres: Exurbia to Edge City

Ingersoll Acres was discovered by yer humble host while hunting for a shortcut around mall traffic one gloomy winter rush hour. Hidden behind the bright lights of the Dayton Mall /OH 725 retail development was this little subdivision with exceptionally large lots, on a street (Lois Circle) that connected Mad River Road and OH 725 (so not much of a shortcut).

I’ve always been curious about this place, and after getting serious about studying local urban history and geography it became a subject of inquiry. It turns out that this little plat is a good demonstration on how postwar suburban growth and evolution paralleled what happened in downtown Dayton in the prewar era, but at an auto-scale.

The study area outlined in red

An Early Postwar Plat

Suburbia had already expanded well beyond Dayton city limits by the Great Depression, with 1920s plats & land speculation extending along Springboro Pike as far south as Alex-Bell Road. By this time Miamisburg and West Carollton had developed into early commuter suburbs.

This speculative activity apparently didn’t extend up the hill to the Dayton Mall area, with property apparently still being held as ag land. This early 1930s property map shows Ingersoll Acres (and a strip of property to the south of Miamisburg-Centerville Road, AKA OH 725) held by Issac Apple.

Apple’s property north of OH 725 apparently was subdivided in the 1940s, maybe after the war, with the first houses built in very late 1940s, continuing into the mid 1950s, per this map of the surviving houses

By 1954 the subdivision appears in a landscape of farmland, woodlots, orchards and ponds, near the crossroads settlement of Shanersville. On can also see the headwaters of Holes Creek draining the rolling landscape as well as limited exurban ribbon development of houses along the country roads.

Matching the USGS map with a roughly contemporaneous aerial, one can see the outlines of houses.

And an enlargement, showing the mostly rural feel of this exurban locale. One can clearly see the tree line of a branch of Holes’ Creek cutting through the development, and the houses on site

Per this plat book cut of 1960, one can see the subdivision labeled as Ingersoll Acres, as well as adjacent development. Lots aren’t shown, though, and it looks lke the corner lot at Mad River and OH 725 was retained as it’s own parcel. This might have been the original farm house as the USGS topos show a barn on the property.
I-75 and the Dayton Mall dramatically transformed the landscape in this area. This transformation wasn’t instantaneous, though, with commercial development slow-rolling until the 1980s. Though the mall was directly across the street Ingersoll Acres remained residential as late as 1979, the date of this USGS topo photo-revision.

The 1980’s Boom

The 1970s was apparently a time of stagnant or slow development in Dayton. The 1980s was different, with an explosion of development in the Dayton Mall area. Ingersoll Acres was caught up in the mall area boom and transformed.

Most of the site was acquired by developers, who tore down the houses, stripped the landscape, and reassembled the parcels (right hand map shows the ages of the remaining houses, some of the older postwar housing this far south, outside of a town or village)

The frontage along OH 725 was redeveloped into a mixed use strip center with some small commercial pads to the west of Lois Circle. Property deeper into the site was developed as high density residential of various types: apartments, assisted living, extended stay hotel. Nearly all of this was in place by 1988, with the last commercial build-out in the mid 1990s

Yet there still are a handful of houses left at the rear of the site

A 2000’s aerial, showing the present situation, Ingersoll Acres as a building block of the Dayton Mall edge city

What happened here in the 1980s is identical to what happened in downtown Dayton until WWII, where the central business district expanded into adjacent residential blocks, replacing free-standing houses with various types of commercial construction, hotels, and higher density housing, yet with some individual houses surviving.

Here, the original “central business district” was the Dayton Mall, and commercial use expanded into surrounding residential and rural properties, responding to increasing property value driven by the desire by business to locate close to the mall. The difference, of course, is that development is much more spread-out and subject to single-purpose zoning.

Development in both cases was determined by the original property lines (town plat vs subdivided farm) and transportation technology (horse and street cars vs automobiles); resulting in similar changes of use: single family residential to office, retail, hotels, and high density residential.

Next, a look at what it really looks like

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great work, as always, Jeffrey. Your chronological accuracy rings true. I used to bicycle everywhere around the DM area in the late 1970s, and as you point out, Dayton development was stagnant then (made for excellent riding conditions.) And... "Shanersville"! I would see these place names on the topo maps I had back then on my routes, and I would try to visualize small towns lying where all of the faceless suburban crap sits today. Another such "ghost town" buried by development is "Zimmerman" along Dayton-Xenia Road, which still had a road sign in the late 70s.