My goal in this post is to show you some cool “before” and “after” photos (or at least before OR after photos) of some survivors of Dayton’s 1913 flood—no, not people, but buildings! I thought it might be of interest to highlight some of Dayton’s older downtown buildings that “survived” the flood and (perhaps even more impressively) still survive today (i.e., they haven’t been torn down in the interest of so-called “progress”- but that’s a whole other entry).
But before I dive into the photographs, I wanted to address the radio silence of the past nearly two months. I suppose perhaps I was a little bit “blogged out” after writing a zillion (or so it seemed at the time) posts about the 1913 flood on the blogs at work: if you haven’t already done so, check them out on Wright State U. Archives’ Out of the Box blog and the Dayton Daily News Archive blog.
And on top of being “blogged out,” I had rather run out of steam on the whole topic of the 1913 flood (and still kinda am, though I’ve set it aside for you today because I don’t want to put it off any longer). I’m a little sick of talking about it, to be perfectly honest! I know, I know! That sounds horrible. But for about a month it seemed like I was eating, sleeping, and breathing the topic—ok, not really, of course—and I did that because it was an extremely important event in Dayton’s (even Ohio’s) history, and the commemoration of that event deserved my full attention and to be “done up right.” And so I did. (If you don’t believe me, see my previous entry.) And I don’t regret that. But…I’d really love to not talk about it anymore for a while.
After this entry, of course.
And so…onward, as promised, here are some of Dayton’s historic downtown buildings that survived the flood and that can still be seen today. So the next time you’re downtown and you see one of these, I want you to gaze up at it, appreciate the fact that it’s been there 100+ years, and maybe muse about how long it took to shovel all the flood mud out of it…
[All of the before/flood photos are courtesy of the Dayton Metro Library's Local History Room. You can see all their 1913 flood photos online. The present-day photos are courtesy of yours truly, unless otherwise stated. For all photos, you can click on the photo to go to the associated Flickr page with more info.]
Doubletree Hotel (southwest corner Third & Ludlow- it was the Algonquin Hotel in 1913)
Third Street Post Office (now the Federal Building, south side of Third St., between Ludlow & Wilkinson)
For a current photo of the Doubletree Hotel, check out this photo taken in 2010 by Flickr user Flyer E901; if he gives me permission, I’ll img src it here instead of just linking… Don’t ask me why I don’t have a pic of the Doubletree myself; obviously I was right next to it when I took this picture of the Federal building:
Conover Building (southeast corner Third and Main)
Memorial Hall (northwest corner First and St. Clair)
You can see them both in this flood photo below. The Conover Building is the really tall building near the center of the photo (not the one with the clock tower- that’s the Callahan Bank Building); Memorial Hall is the rounded topped building in the upper right of the frame.
And here are two more recent photos of the Conover Building and Memorial Hall:
Emmanuel Catholic Church (Washington St.)
Sacred Heart Catholic Church (northwest corner Fourth & Wilkinson)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Fifth & Bainbridge)
I couldn’t find great flood photos of these, so you’ll have to trust me on this when I show you these pics of the steeples in the distance that that’s really what I’m showing you!
Okay, in the pic below you can see Emmanuel Catholic Church — the two very tall steeples on the right of the photo. And actually, I wasn’t even going to include Sacred Heart in this because I couldn’t find a pic, but I realized you can see it in this picture: it’s the low dome in between the tall towers of Emmanuel and the single campanile-looking tower of Union Station at the far right. (And somewhere, I know I’ve seen a great panorama of Dayton looking south from about Deeds Point, and you can see Sacred Heart plainly, but I can’t seem to find that. Maybe it wasn’t a flood pic…)
Here’s a recent photo of Emmanuel Catholic Church from Flickr’s catholicsanctuaries (used with permission):
And, in another “take my word for it” silhouette-type photo, here is Holy Trinity Church- the tall steeple rising up on the far right of the frame:
As for the “now” photo, I don’t seem to have a photo Holy Trinity (but here’s a great one from Flickr user SyntheticTone).
But here’s one of mine showing Sacred Heart:
These next three, the flood photos don’t show much of the building, so again you might have to take my word for it that it is where it says or that the building is in there somewhere (because I know it must be). The photos depict primarily the clean-up or debris.
It’s like people 100 years ago weren’t concerned that someday I might come along and wish I had flood photos of these building so I could write about it; how inconsiderate of them, trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and not taking enough photos. (Although, really, there are QUITE a lot of photos, even during the actual flood, which when you think about it, is kind of amazing.)
Dayton Arcade (Third Street entrance, between Main & Ludlow)
The Arcade is the building on the right in the photo below. You can probably recognize some of the stonework from the facade.
Dayton Daily News building (northwest corner Fourth & Ludlow)
See that bright white building in the background that looks kind of like a bank (there’s a great historical explanation for that, btw- another time, perhaps), just to the left of that bally lamp post? Yeah, that’s the DDN building.
Not sure how much longer the DDN building will look like this, though, since it was recently announced that Sinclair Community College is planning to incorporate the block into some kind of dormitory project; allegedly, the original (bank-looking) portion of the DDN offices will be “preserved,” though. So if you haven’t seen it before, you should go see it ASAP before it changes too much!
Delco building(s) (E. First St., east of St. Clair, now part of Mendelson’s)
Okay, full disclosure: I’m not sure the two photos I’m showing here depict the same exact building. There were several Delco buildings around the same area, and the one in this flood photo may not be the same as the Mendelson’s one I’m showing next. But you get the idea…
And finally, last but not least, here are three more buildings that I couldn’t find before/flood photos for, but trust me, they were around during the 1913 flood, and they are still around today:
Old Court House (northwest corner Third and Main, built in 1850)
Victoria Theatre (southeast corner First & Main, built in 1866 & rebuilt a few times afterwards)
United Brethren Publishing House (northeast corner Fourth & Main, built in the late 19th century; now called the Centre City Building)
(You can also see the back of the UB Building in the background of my “now” photo of the Conover Building above.)
Well, there you go, folks- a little photo tour of downtown Dayton with emphasis on buildings that survived the 1913 flood (as well as humanity’s need for tearing down old buildings to build newer, usually uglier, ones). There are certainly others I could have chosen, most of them smaller and a little less grand, but there nonetheless.
Actually, here’s one such building (quite old), now that I think of it (a bonus!):
But I was trying to think of grandiose buildings that it would be easy to locate “before” (or flood) pictures of. I still seem to have failed at finding as many of those before photos as I really wanted, but nevertheless. It’s something. And I hope you enjoyed it.