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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2007, 1:52 AM
Jeff_in_Dayton Jeff_in_Dayton is offline
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The Endangered Dayton Arcade

The Dayton Arcade complex is in the very heart of downtown Dayton. Some say it is the heart of downtown Dayton.



Possibly the most endangered building of signifigance in Ohio? The building has been vacant since 1991. Maintenance stopped and the utilities were turned off in 2005, and the complex is now deteriorating due to water damage and weathering due to the freeze-thaw cycle. The building most likely will be sold at sheriffs sale in December, and stands a good chance of being demolished in the next few years.

The loss of this complex would not be missed in larger citys, but in a smaller city like Dayton it will leave a real hole.

The complex was built between 1902 and 1908. It comprises five buildings…a small corner high-rise, two flanking blocks, a central domed market hall and an arcade, the arcade piece being a joint venture between two owners.



A period Sanborn giving the layout of the complex at the ground floor (outlined in red). The market hall had cold storage in the basement, and icemaking machinery under the sidewalk.



The corner high rise (called the Commercial Buidling) and the two flanking buildings, which are done up as outsized Mannerist palazzos

Commercial Building under construction...



The Commercial Building was the headquarters, in later years, of one of Daytons’ first postwar suburban shopping center developers. Local suburbia was planned out from the 7th floor….



Vintage shot of one of the flanking buildings. The church was razed in the mid 1920s and replaced by a 3 story commercial block



The interesting thing about this complex was that it was true mixed use, with housing, offices, and retail in the same building.





The Third Street “arcade” side was designed in a quite different fashion, modeled after a guild hall in either Belgium or Amsterdam.





..but inside was a rather suprising interior space





..which leads to this even more suprising (since its so buried in the block) domed area….with surrounding skyscrapers (such as they are in Dayton) visible through the glass….the oirginal glazing was tinted, like a coke bottle, with wire mesh reinforcing.



As this was a market hall, the top of the dome is ringed with tin turkeys and tin food cornucopias, painted to look like fruits and vegetables. This “food” detailing carries out into to the exterior of the Commercial Building as terra-cotta trim.

Period shot of the Arcade as a market



The Arcade part had apartments, too.





...and this was mixed use, too, especially on the lower floors, where aparptments often alternated with offices and other commercial uses.




Some occupancy stats.





Taking a look at the ground floor, a snapshot of use in 1950, before suburbia took off and killed downtown…





This Arcade cafeteria was a downtown institution, and has been recreated in a suburban historic park.



The Arcade Market declined as a citywide food market with the rise of chain stores and supermarkets, but remained a viable downtown place for downtown residents and shopers, before urban renewal cleared out what was left of downtown residential




Under the Dome through time…this place had everything…a popcorn stand, a remote radio broadcast booth, a news stand, bijou jewelry, as well as food…





Fans of the TV show West Wing might recall the fictional character Leo McGarry. Here is the real Leo McGarry, who Martin Sheen must’ve known from his youth in Dayton. This McGarry was a longtime grocer at the Arcade and downtown Dayton character…



…the Arcade was remodeled between 1977 and 1980 into a downtown shopping center/entertainment center.









…which received national attention, and won for the design firm an Ohio AIA gold medal.

But the entertainment concept never panned out and the shopping center went bankrupt in 1984.





As a way to try something different a food court was installed …



..but that didn’t work and the Arcade was finally closed in 1991.

The tax lien was sold last year, and the complex will go to sheriff sale this December



Whither the Arcade?













…at least someone cares enough to write a message in the dust…



…and these buildings are dying.



(yes, a bit maudlin, I know).

For an excellent interior & rooftop tour of the vacant complex by a local photographer (plus some arty interior shots with a female model), click here

So there you have it. Dayton is called the Gem City, and this. along with the old courthouse across the street, is the architectural diamond. A diamond that will be shortly ground up for dust
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2007, 4:58 AM
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Wow, trust me, any American city would be proud to have this. Dayton would be crazy to let such a timeless gem go by the wayside! I bet most residents have no idea what they have in it!
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Old Posted Jul 7, 2007, 5:35 AM
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Indeed. This is a magical building... it needs to be saved. If no one can appreciate it now, I guarantee you people will appreciate it in the future.

I don't know if it will help, but there's the website for our local arcade.

www.grovearcade.com

Perhaps if you contact someone involved with it, they might have a suggestion or two. You might want to contact the people who run the Pike Place Market, also.

We got lucky in that our arcade started out strong and kept going strong until World War II broke out. Then the feds took over the building, evicted the stores, residents, and offices and used the building as a federal building for the next fifty years. After they moved to a new building, the arcade sat empty for about five years until the city worked out a plan to restore it and bring it back to what it is now -- one of the region's premier shopping destinations. It didn't sit around abandoned for too long, and the federal government didn't mutilate the building too much. All the walls they built and all the bricked up storefronts were easily remedied.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2007, 7:12 PM
Jeff_in_Dayton Jeff_in_Dayton is offline
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Quote:
I bet most residents have no idea what they have in it!
There is a socio-political backstory that I am ommitting here as I wanted to show the architecture of the place, but loss of memory is an issue here.

This building has been shut for 15 years. That means people who moved here in 1991 and after have no firsthand knowlege of the place, aside from the exterior facades.

I've read some comments from newcomers who are living in some loft housing downtown that it's "like a shopping mall" , and that people want to be "outside", and that maybe it should be torn down and bits and pieces kept (perhaps like outdoor sculpture?). Clearly an example of lack of knowlege of the building.

Also younger people don't know the place. People 30 years old or younger may remember it from their childhood or teenage years, if their parents took them there, or if they lived in the city proper (as it was somewhat popular with city school kids).

Most of the people who are starting up a "Freinds to Save the Arcade" advocacy group are elderly, mostly retirees, as it is that generation who probably recalls the building the best.

So a real threat is that the Arcade is fading from community memory, thus less of a constituency to adovacte saving the buildings.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2007, 7:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_in_Dayton View Post
There is a socio-political backstory that I am ommitting here as I wanted to show the architecture of the place, but loss of memory is an issue here.

This building has been shut for 15 years. That means people who moved here in 1991 and after have no firsthand knowlege of the place, aside from the exterior facades.

I've read some comments from newcomers who are living in some loft housing downtown that it's "like a shopping mall" , and that people want to be "outside", and that maybe it should be torn down and bits and pieces kept (perhaps like outdoor sculpture?). Clearly an example of lack of knowlege of the building.

Also younger people don't know the place. People 30 years old or younger may remember it from their childhood or teenage years, if their parents took them there, or if they lived in the city proper (as it was somewhat popular with city school kids).

Most of the people who are starting up a "Freinds to Save the Arcade" advocacy group are elderly, mostly retirees, as it is that generation who probably recalls the building the best.

So a real threat is that the Arcade is fading from community memory, thus less of a constituency to adovacte saving the buildings.
That makes sense I suppose for it to be a relative unknown to people who never had the opportunity to experience it.

Is there any way that it could be opened up for short, free public tours? I'm not sure how many people would turn out for something like that but i'm certain that with most people, all it would take is one look at that incredible glass dome and they'd be on the bandwagon.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2007, 7:35 PM
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Ugh. Double post. Damn forum lag time.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2007, 9:37 PM
Jeff_in_Dayton Jeff_in_Dayton is offline
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actually there is an interesting story about what you suggest.

The local downtown group has an event twice a year where people open up lofts, studios, galleries and so forth for tours, and there is live arts events and so forth in various locations, as a way to generate interest in downton. This is called "Urban Nights"

The current owner wanted to open the Arcade up for tours during Urban Nights as a way to generate interest but the city nixed this.

The citys reason, so he said, was that fire supression system was turned off and it would be a violation of fire code to open the building up for tours. Also, I think he said that the health deparment wouldn't let the building be open due to health hazards due to mold (though im not sure if the place was ever actually tested for bioenvironmental issues).

All this is quite interesting if one is suspicious, as it seems the city is being fairly unco-operative, or maybe its just bureaucracy, or maybe these are legit reasons. I think private tours would be OK even if the fire system is off, but health department could still gig him if there is a biohazard.

My personal opinion is that a lot of people and local buisinesses lost a lot of money on the intial renovation project from the late 70s (this was a project of the local "establishment" to some extent), and it represents a big urban renewal failure for the city and general community.

And the various failed attempts to reopen the building in the 1990s represent a collective incompetence and possible corruption of local goverment and dithering by private sector leadership. ,

So there might be some underlying sentiment that this building just "go away" as it is such a big symbol of civic failure.

Also, every urban renewal and big investment decision made in the past 15 years for downtown has removed more and more options for this building, and has refocused activity away from this part of downtown.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2007, 9:51 PM
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Great thread, and interesting story. What a beautiful old gem this complex of buildings is. Hopefully new uses can be found, and they won't be lost or facadectomized. Sadly, I am sure most all of America's great old downtown's have similar stories and problems.
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