Friday, December 26, 2008

Moraine in the 20s & 30s: The Paper Suburb

It's probably not too well known that Moraine had a suburban history pre-dating WWII.

Though we've seen the early planning for the suburb and the first industry and subdivision there was considerable real estate speculation in the area prior to the Great Depression. We'll take a look at some of this development, probably related to the Frigidaire expansion of the late 1920s.

Roaring 20s Land Speculations

This map shows how this area was in play well before the era of postwar suburbia. Orange shading shows plats prior to 1930, red shading shows land held by development companies, and the yellow is land held by local notables, mainly the industrialists Kettering and Deeds, newspaperman Cox and the heirs to Adam Schantz. Blue is the GM holdings, as GM had expanded in the area during the 1920s, substantially adding to and reconstructing the old Dayton-Wright plant in 1926-1927 to manufacture refrigerators. This may have kicked off the land boom in the area.

The 1920s was the era when the framework for postwar suburbia was being set; as one can see land was in play as far south as Alex-Bell Road, actually south of Alex-Bell. Alexanderville, on this and the other maps, was a canal village platted before the Civil War, and apparently remained an identifiable place until being swamped by post WWII sprawl.

An enlargement showing the Moraine Development Company holdings and the first two subdivisions, Moraine City sections 1 and 2, and the three sections of Moraine South. The Frigidaire & the CH&D interuban shops are also outlined in red.

The Schantz story at Moraine ends during this era as the Schantz estate liquidated its interest in the development company in the late 1920s, say around the time Frigidaire was being built. It's unclear who the principles were in the development company but Schantzs orgingal partners were Deeds and Kettering, so presumably they retained some interest in the development company. Or maybe it became a subsidiary of GM.

The Paper Suburb

This Wager's Map from the early 1930s shows the extent of subdivision activity in the Moraine Area. It labels most developments, but I put in labels for a few more. The map mistakenly locates Moraine Riverview further north than it really was. It does show, however, how this area continued to have passenger rail service for communting via the interurban.

And it also shows the appearance of Kettering Boulevard, which indicates that though this area had commuter service the car was probably the main driver of real estate speculation as most of the plats shown here are not oriented around the rail line.

One can see that the plan for Moraine Development Company property coming out of the 1920s was to subdivide the land between Kettering Boulevard and Sprinboro Pike, with the proposed streets drawn in for part of the plat. This was aborted during the Depression.

Perhaps an example of the Dayton economy, booming though it was in the 20's , not booming as much as, say, Detroit. Or maybe this was just too far out; places like Westwood and Belmont were the 1920s boomburbs.

The Big Hill portion of Hills & Dales park also appears: this was either under development or developed later as a subdivision, as Hills & Dales south of Dorothy Lane was not gifted to the city but retained by the Patterson family for real estate development.

One can see Stroop rerouted as Moraine Park Drive to intersect with Dixie Drive at Big Hill Road, cutting through the Deeds property; perhaps the start of even more subdivision activity?

South Moraine, Moraine Center, Morain Riverview, Moraine Little Farms, Moraine City Section 2 and Miami Shores all appear on this map, though most of them would not see build-out until after WWII.

These were paper suburbs of the 1920s

Approaching WWII

By 1940 a more realistic map shows land development of the time. Moraine Development Company lands in red (extending as far north as Dorothy Lane), show the aborted 1920s subdivision gone, plat vacated. Readers familiar with this area know well what happened to the property, and it wasn't a residential subdivision.

We also see West Moraine finally appear. "Dogpatch" became an district of self-built war worker housing. During the era of this map all the subdivisions shown here construction, from, say 1938-1939 through WWII.

The old canal ROW is also shown, indicating Dryden Road hadn't been extended yet into the northern reaches of Moraine. The interurban still appears, though it was on it's last leg.

This close-up at the southern reaches of Moraine shows the original Moraine City plat in red and 1920s subdivisions, demonstrating how much the area had grown (on paper at least)

But it wasn't all on paper. The little pix of representative houses (click on image to enlarge) demonstrates how this area did see some pre WWII construction, so there are bits and pieces of an older, perhaps more humane version of suburbia embedded in a matrix of postwar sprawl.

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