Saturday, January 31, 2009

Clearing Urban Underbrush: South of Third

Continuing to explore downtown Dayton then and now courtesy of the Dayton Metro Library Lutzenberger Collection. We will move into the part of downtown that was considered just so much dead urban underbrush that needed to be cleared away.

The "removals" map. In most cases the things we will be seeing where removed for good, without much replacement. The numbered arrows key to the pix.
The corner of Fifth and Main. This was all houses, but most on this block were replaced by the Worman-Dye and Canby buildings (shown here) and the Lowe Building (of equal height, which replaced the houses to the far right).

The buildings were pretty impressive. 6 or 7 stories in a downtown that was mostly 3 story at the time They survived pretty late, torn down between 1975 and 1980. Replaced by a parking lot, which itself was replaced by the worlds tallest parking garage (not really, though it seems that way). This garage for government workers in the Reibold Building was one of the tallest new buildings to go up downtown, built sometime in the early 2000s.

Also on 5th & Main, southeast corner, was the Pruden and Gephardt blocks, examples of downtown extending south during the later 19th century. Both buildings have little turrets or towers, and the Gebhardt tower had a statue on the very top.
They were torn down in the late 1960s, replaced by the Convention Center, which itself has undergone modernizations and expansions.

A close up of the Gephardt Block. Again, a quasi gothic facade. This was a theatre or "opera house", which in the last days became the Mayfair Burlesque. Lots of ground floor retail here, and I think there were apartments in the upper floors. One can catch some of the exuberant detailing of the next-door Pruden Block too.

The Convention Centers big wastepaper basket entrance is approximatly on the site today. Unintended symbol for a city that's been trashed.

Climbing into the upper floors of the Worman-Dye Buiding Lutzenberger took this photo of the Barney Block and old Lutheran Church, which became a Scottish Rite temple before being torn down (hence the alley name Temple Lane?). Note between the church and corner building how a surviving house was wrapped in a two story business block. A not uncommon feature in this part of downtown.

Fifth Street was pretty impressive as a donwtown busy street here, with a wall of three and four story buildings lining the blocks. The Gebhardt Block and tower can be seen at the far right.

All this was torn down. The proposed downtown shopping mall on this site never materialized. Stouffers, later Crown Plaza, was built instead, dating to the early 1970s. Upper decks of the Transportation Center garage in the background.

Clearing Urban Underbrush.

This image was probably taken from the Fidelity Building, looking over the zone of destruction. Nearly everything you see here is gone. Visible survivors are numbered (you might have click on the image to enlarge to read the numbers)

1. Back of Third Street buildings

2. Delco, later Mendelsons

3. Price Store

4. St Clair Lofts

5. Hauer Music.

The old power plant (by the chimneys) also survived though the chimneys did not.

Fifth looked like a great city busy street. But it was dying by the late 1950s, dying and dead urban underbrush. A good example of using urban renewal to remove buildings that died an economic death due to suburbanization.

Recall that prior to the 1870s or early 1880s most of what you see here was residential.

Downtown expaneded into this area due to concentration of trade and people via mass transit (on of the first streetcar lines ran downt 5th), which expanded to serve a growning industrial city. A symbiotic relationship existed between economic and population growth and hub & spoke transit systems, resulting in downtown expansion upwards (via skyscrapers) and outwards (like this neighborhood).

When the need to concentrate things went away, so did the economic rasion d'etre for a dense and expanded downtown. So downtown contracted, receded, leaving dead buildings, which were replaced by landscaping, parking, and things that are intermittent uses, like the convention center.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rocking the Rustbelt on Dayton's Industrial Prairies

In this case the particular industrial prairie was Garden Station, a project of the Circus

The event was sort of a halloween party, on the same night the Oregon/5th Street has it's party. Not too well attended but one can see a lot of potential for a "Dayton Music Fest" type of thing going on here as this is a neat outdoor venue.


I hope they have this again next year as one can see some potential in re-inhabiting these derelict urban spaces. Almost like a Heidelberg Project.

More pix here.

Pretzinger Lane

Downtown's newest street, running between Fourth and Fifth. Who was Pretzinger and why did they put a street here? Who knows. But a good example of how Dayton's deep blocks offer possibilities for making downtown more "interesting".
Investigating the only empy space on the street, a parking lot, for downtown housing:

The site midblock opens onto a private parking area associated with the old Reynolds & Reynolds compex, now the school board. This means there will be natural light on both sides of the site. The site closer to fifth backs up onto a three story wing of the Ludlow Building, so there would be natural light coming from the east and south.

The concept is to develope a mix of apartments and townhouses. Three story apartments on the southern side of the site, along the Ludlow Building, and two story townhouses with maybe small patios and trees on the midblock site.

The floor plans of the apartments would put halls, stairs, bathrooms, kitchens and storage on the "dark wall", backing up to the Ludlow Building and living & sleeping spaces facing Pretzinger and Fifth.

The parking lot across Fifth Street could be aquired for dedicated parking, controlled by keycard or some other control feature.

The site:

A very rough concept. Exterior facade could be designed with bays and quasi-turrets to emphasise the corner or entrances, and the ground floor could be raised somewhat to provide visual privacy.

Citing precedent for apartment buildings on tight urban sites from downtown Lexington KY. Note the use of bay windows to enhance the facade (and a nice interior feature, too). I think six units for the building in the upper image and four upper floor units for the corner building. Yer humble host was at a party in the top building (dinner party in honor of Bishop Tutu's daughter, who was going to college in KY), so can vouch this place is nice inside, big enough for a dining room).

And precedent for downtown housing from Dayton's history. The lower right was on Market Street, a midblock street like Pretzinger Lane, and and is offered so one can see the townhouse possibilities (though these have retail on the ground floor).

The upper right are good examples of a long thin multi-unit residential. A modern version, not shown here, is the Eva Felman Apartments.

Downtown Housing for....who?

The idea is to build housing for people who would activate downtown. Demogaphically one would be pitching to singles and unmarried partners (or married). The people in this case would be singles or couples who want a pied-a-terre but prefer to spend a lot of time "out", either at work, school, or active in other ways. Active in doing atheletic things like jogging, biking, working out, but also active in going to music venues, coffeshops, etc, and using downtown retail (or being a market for downtown retail, since there isn't much). Maybe a free two wheel shopping basket comes with the apartment with directions to the grocery on 3rd next to the Arcade?

Since parking is not 0n-site the idea is that people who live here would walk to places unless they need to go grocery shopping or drive to suburbia for work. Walk to the coffeeshop across the street. Walk to work or to RTA to catch the bus to work or school. Walk to the Oregon or elsewhere downtown to listen to some music. Things like that.

Townhouses would be maybe for more affluent or more established households. Parking might be able to be leased from the school board lot immediatly behind the townhouses, solving the off-site parking problem (people buying a house would expect parking to be on-site).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Ludlow Street Rephotography: Downtown Housing

The theme here is building subsitution and downtown housing.

First, the familiar Dayton Daily News building, looking like a bank because thats what owner/publisher Cox wanted it to look like. In front are the all the newsies posed for a group shot, label says "picinic", so maybe that's somewhere other than the intersection of 4th and Ludlow.

Note, though, the building just to the right, with the awnings. This was one of Dayton's downtown apartment houses. Beyond that the old Gibbons Hotel, now Doubletree.

Today, the DDN building expaned to the rear, then north on Ludlow via a new building in the 1950s, removing the apartment building. Next door is the Schwind Building, built as office, then converted into a hotel (popular with vaudeville and theatrical types) and later low income apartments.

A bit further south on the same block, looking to the east side of Ludlow between 4th and 5th (you can just see the Commercial Building anchoring the NE corner of 4th & Ludlow). This was what was before the Keith theatre. The back of the Methodist church (one cans see the two spires) and another downtown apartment building (this one 4 stories).

In the foreground are two very interesting houses. One can speculate by the scale and style that these were before the Civil War, probably the second structures built on their lots after the "log cabin era". Looks like a double next to the church, too.

The things closer to 4th were replaced by the Keith theatre, which itself was replaced by the 4o W 4th skyscraper. The rest of this part of the block was replaced by the Wurlizter and Ludlow buildings. So a good illustration on how downtown expanded into a residential area.
Another illustration around the corner on 4th Street. This house was on the south side of 4th between Ludlow and Main. The house survived into the 1950s as a womens club. I think it was replaced by a parking lot.

By the time of this pix the backyard was taken up by a five story loft building that opened up onto an alley "Temple Lane", which brings to mind the Callahan Power Block or the Ohmer factory. Dayton blocks were so deep that alleys, or lanes, worked as secondary streets with a second layer of construction behind the street -ront buildings.

In the background on the upper left one can see the upper floors of the Riebold Building.

The scene today. The vacant lot next door to the right (also a house) became the Keith Theatre and now the 40 W 4th Building. Reibold building is stil visible. The parking lot that replaced the house is now Pretzinger Lane...

...which reintroduces the secondary street or "lane" concept back to this block as Temple Lane has disappeared, being blocked by the new parking garage and what's left acting as a private drive to parking behind 4o W 4th.

Pretzinger Lane...the side closer to 5th...presents an opportunity for some infill housing, which we will look at next.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Third World Reggae Festival

From Labor Day weekend 2008. Something to remember for this coming summer.

Perhaps one of the best downtown events, it's a bit different from the Riverscape festivals as its in the heart of downtown on Dave Hall Plaza, Dayton's own "Central Park". Hosted by local Reggae musician Seefari (on stage in the first pic), but including regional Reggae and Ska artists, with a bit of world beat too.

The vibe here is perfect. Totally laid-back and just people having a good time, dancing to the music.

There are quite a few vendors and this scene, with the Dayton PD & FD recruites, the free books people, and on the hill the henna art tent, showing what a peaceable kingdom this is.

Did I mention people come here to dance?

The Aftershow

Since people are having such a good time and don't want to go home the festival has started to move to indoor venues after the DHP festivities close. This year three spaces participated:

Therapy: Dancehall style reggae done by a DJ. I guess this is the more modern form?

J-Alans: which is turning into a fairly good live music venue downtown.

South Park Tavern: moving the Oregon/Dowtown scene up Wayne a bit, this place also has been hosting some good live music.

No aftershow pix this year, but if past years are an indication there is some good jamming going on with the various acts from the festival doing their own sets, but also joining in together.

For more pix of this years festival click here.

Can we be fabulous here in Dayton?

Yes we can!

The Tale of the Traveling Facades

Rephotography with a twist.

The Lafee Building (the exuberant facade to the right) and Clegg's Hall stood on the south side of Third Street between Main and Jefferson. These buildings, together with their neighbors, created a visually interesting street wall on Third, wich in the 19th century was as much a main street as Main itself as it led to the canal landing. The Lafee Building dated to the 1870s.

The arrow points to a fireplug. Fireplugs are about the only way one can locate a rephotography subject downtown since so much has been demolished. in this case. The scene today. Note the fireplug. Nearly the entire block has been demolished. Currently a parking lot for RTA management (and there is some irony in that).

Goodbye Lafee Building? Not necessarily so...

...the Lafee Building reborn, but around the corner on Main Street. The facade was disassembled and the pieces stored. When RTA bought the American Building as a site for their new bus hub the facade was incorporated into the design. Close call. as there are cases of disassembled facades that never get reassembled.

Clegg's Hall was an "Opera House", meaning there was a stage and seating on the upper floor. Built in the 1850s by one of Dayton's pioneer industrialist families (started out in foundry work and cotton spinning). It was not so fortunate, being demolished in the late 1940s and replaced in 1950 with a cafeteria (the "Virginia Cafeteria" in the criss-cross directory).

Next door to the Lafee, between it and the American Building, was these two commercial blocks, one with an unusual neo-gothic treatment.
Together they formed a department store, the Home Store, wich burned in 1926. In 1927 the Home Store rebuilt in brick, in a sort of modernizing quasi-deco design. One can tell in some of the 1920s buildings that the local architects knew about modern design, but softened modernism with vestigal revivalist details.
The Home Store became Beermans's Department Store, and after 1960 (when Beerman took over Elder-Johnson) Elder-Beerman. And Elder-Beerman it remained until the Courthouse Square store opened (late 1970s?) , after which this store closed.

The Home Store remained vacant until being torn down in the early 1990s. This left only the American Building on the Main & Third corner and the old Odd Fellows Hall (?) on Third & Jefferson.

So what is there today? This building:
Which is yet another traveling facade. Behind it is the RTA waiting room and shopping arcade. But it orginally was the Cooper Block, located on the northeast corner of Main and 2nd, part of a mini-historic district of surviving 19th century downtown buildings.
All were torn down in 1988 or 1989 for the construction of the Citizens Federal building (until very recently the 5th/3rd Building). Except the corner Cooper Block facade, which was, like the Lafee Building, disassmebled and the pieces stored.

Recapping the south side of 3rd between Main and Jefferson: nearly the entire block removed, one very old structure (Clegg's Hall) removed, replaced, and the replacement itself removed.

And then the facades get saved, relocated, and reassembled... create the street fronts of the new RTA hub, shown in gray below.
The saves of these facades are one of the sucess stories of Preservation Dayton, and in one case required heroic measures. The disassembled pieces were stored outside, and the markings on the stone blocks that told how they should fit back together were washing off in the rain and snow. Apparently Preservation Dayton folks got some whitewash and went out and repainted the markings so the facade could be reassembled.

If the remarking wouldn't have happened the facades would never have been re-assembled, and would have ended up as piles of useless stone.

Instead we have two lively survivors of Daytons booming 19th century.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Greater Downtown Dayton: Original People/Original Place

Probably the first real comprehensive look at how to do something with downtown in years, this planning effort is sponsored in part by the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

I like that slogan, "original people/original place". Who ever is doing this conceptual or branding work is doing a great job of it.

The blurb at the Downtown Dayton Partnership says this:

The public and private sectors in Greater Downtown Dayton have joined forces to create a bold, unified plan for the region’s center city. The City of Dayton and the Downtown Dayton Partnership have convened a group of business and community leaders to spearhead this community-wide effort to establish a blueprint ― called A Greater Downtown Dayton Plan ― to help guide the future of Dayton’s urban core.

A Greater Downtown Dayton Plan will establish a very tactical, deliberate game plan for the future of our Greater Downtown. It will identify collaborative ― not competitive ― strategies for creating a more vibrant city. In addition, it will merge existing plans into one unified vision for our center city, allowing our community to work from the same playbook as we tackle clearly identified action items that lead to one goal: a vibrant, thriving center city.

...with a lot of additional info at this link. Take an online survey on downtown and download the planning principles and FAQs.

There weill be three public input sessions where you can say your piece in realtime:

• Tuesday, February 10 at 12 noon at the Dayton Metro Library

• Thursday, February 12 at 5 p.m. at c{space, 20 N. Jefferson Street

• Tuesday, February 17 at 7 p.m. in the Charity Earley Auditorium, Ponitz Conference Center, at Sinclair Community College

But you can contribute online, too:

Facebook: A Greater Downtown Dayton Plan

Dayton Most Metro Forum: A Greater Downtown Dayton Plan

The DMM Forum site has a number of subcategories to which one contribute, and already has the an excellent online community discussing urban affairs issues in this area.

UpDayton: Good Ideas and Documenting the Scene

UpDayton is one of the five Creative Region intiatives collectively called Dayton Create, and the one I've paid the least attention to as its for young proffressionals under 40, which I aint.

But it looks like they are doing some pretty interesting things. They have their own website....

....which has various types of information and results of what they've been up to. And they have an ideas forum with some do-able things that click into some of Daytonologys interests.

One I liked was a suggestion for a scenepix site, a blog or website that documents the nightlife/arts/events scene here. The model is Cobrasnake, an LA-based fashion photographer that does party and show pix. They mentioned that ActiveDayton's party crashers do this bit. I'd add you'd see some of this over at the Bhudda Den, too, and occasionally here at Daytonology due to yer humble hosts' music fan tendancies.

But, yeah, sure, a more concerted effort to feature the local scene would put out a good online rep for the city...demonstrating to the outside world that there is among the rustbelt ruins. There is a lot going seems....just from keeping a light tab on some of the music sites and myspace pages, but not much really pulled together in one online place.

Definetly a good idea but it needs someon who is fairly well in-tune with whats happening to at least "show up" to take the pix, and someone to host the site.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Smiths Tribute at the Dayton Dirt Collective.

A bitter cold and snowy night in Dayton....

....always the best kind of nights to go out becuase the vibe inside is inverse to the weather. And so it was in Dayton this past Sunday at this Smiths tribute show, held at the unlikely locale of the Dayton Dirt Collective, which is more of a punk space.
Came in at the tail end of this set, Northwest Ordnance i think? (Correction: This band is actually Gunsucker)

Then, between acts, a very good mix by DJ Joe Nicholson, who is from Cincy, I think. The interview at the Bhudda Den says this:

"One of the DJ's performing this night, DJ Joesph Nicholson, told me once that a lot of the 80's music he spins sounds modern to where people cant tell its not new."

Yeah, I could tell it was "of the era", but sometimes not. I forgot how good that stuff sounded.

Then came this act, a trio from Columbus called Zachary Alan Starkey, named after the guy in the middle who fronted the band. Two keyboards, two guitars, and the lead hared vocals with one of his bandmates.

Of course it wasn't that bright, so turn off the flash and enjoy the somewhat unusual lighting here:

These guys were really opening a vein that night. Intense.

Im not a super big Smiths or Morissey fan (yes, i do own Viva Hate), but I was curious to see how this music was covered.

A good interview on the show is at the Bhudda Den: Meltones interviews the organizer, DJ Misterkid, who says some interesting things about making up your own dance moves at the old 1470. Hel_lo!

The DDC is potentially one of the best new spaces in the city. They are sort of focused on punk, which is fine, but nice to see some of this other stuff. The spirit in this place is very positive. No alchohol, no real seating (folding chairs along the wall) , just a big hardwood floor and bands playing and people listening and getting into the music. They have some art on the walls but I think the focus is on music, local and bands playing through. Totally DIY.

Good profile from Alarm magazine and zine publisher here