In May, 2014, I selected one demolished building a day, and posted historical background, an image, and a sentence or two about the building’s fate. The purpose of the project was simply this: to showcase the structures we raze without regard to the sense of place they create. A community is more than the sum of the people who reside within its boundaries. A community is also the built environment, as well as the natural one, and the ways in which people maneuver within the natural, built and social environs. My hope is that by looking at what we’ve lost, we’ll take a closer look at what we have, and then maybe, just maybe, want to hold on it for much, much longer.
I could have done 31 days of lost buildings for any one of the cities in Ohio. The more I researched, the more listings on the National Register of Historic Places I came across that were torn down regardless of their historic status. As far as criteria for my selections, I generally chose buildings that seemed to hold the most weight in my own imagination, or that had an interesting demolition story, or that sparked a good last minute fight to save it.
It should also be said that May is Historic Preservation Month. There’s no better time than that, really, to consider what was not preserved.
Day One: The Greyhound Bus Terminal in Portsmouth, Ohio
The Portsmouth, Ohio Greyhound Bus Station was built around 1939. My dad worked here in high school. It later became a carpet store and then a storage facility. It was torn down in 2008 to make way for Portsmouth High School’s new football stadium.
Day Two: The Gamble House in Cincinnati, Ohio
The Gamble House in Cincinnati was 170 years old when it was demolished in 2013. The inventor of Ivory Soap resided in this grand house in Westwood. It was the “there” there. Now, it is not.
Day Three: The Christopher Inn in Columbus, Ohio
The Christopher Inn on East Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. It opened on July 29, 1963 – on the site of another demolished historic structure…It stood beside the old COSI building and across from the original Wendy’s restaurant. It was demolished in 1988. When I think of that stretch of Broad Street now, in the present, the only building that comes to mind is The Catholic Foundation in the old Wendy’s. They renovated the restaurant and covered it in taupe? beige? brick. Sand-ish in color. As bland as a building can get.
Day Four: The Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio
The Kahiki Supper Club on East Broad Street and Napoleon was opened for business in February 1961 in Columbus, Ohio. It was one of the most famous Polynesian restaurants and hosted many a national (and international) celebrity. I feature it here today because the crowd I was with this weekend was lamenting the loss of it – it still stings. People miss it.
In 1997, it made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t keep the Walgreen’s Corpiration from tearing it down once it closed in August of 2000. It’s legacy lives on in the form of the souvenir ceramic novelty mugs of stone faces and skulls that litter Ohio thrift stores, and will for years to come.
Day Five: The Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Daily News building was not supposed to be demolished in 2013, when developers were tearing down the Schwind Building beside it to make way for a complex of student apartments. Built in 1908 by James Cox, founder of the Dayton Daily News, the building made it on to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The historic facade was supposed to be safe from demolition, but part of the structure got the wrecking ball anyway. The city issued a stop-work order while it tried to sort out the mess, but the building was ultimately destroyed in 2013. The city found that it was more unstable than originally thought – due to the the damage and destruction of the developer’s demolition crew.
Day Six: The Twenty Mile House in Warren County, Ohio
The Twenty Mile House in Warren County, Ohio was an old stagecoach stop named after it’s distance from Cincinnati. The original building was constructed in 1804 as a tavern, but when Warren County resident, Jeremiah Morrow, became governor of Ohio in 1822, the building received some upgrades – like a bigger tavern and a post office. There was no governor’s mansion in Columbus at the time, so Morrow worked from his home in Warren County, and used the Twenty Mile House for meetings. The building figured prominently in the abolitionist movement. At one point in the late 1800s, it served The Horse Rangers, a group that retrieved stolen horses, as an organizing spot. After a two-year campaign to save it, the Twenty Mile House was demolished in April 2013, to make way for a Big Mike’s Gas & Gulp.
Day Seven: Toy Town in New Boston, Ohio
I can’t say it was particularly “historic,” but it meant a lot to the residents of Scioto County, Ohio. It didn’t make it onto the National Register of Historic Places, but I think it factored greatly into the personal histories of many a New Boston, Ohio citizen. Part hardware store, part toy store, and even the local PO, Toy Town stood on the corner of Gallia and Harrisonville. They had a glorious collectible doll display, plus amazing miniatures. It was torn down in the mid-1990s to make way for the CVS that stands there now. It was a colorful building, for a colorful business.
Day Eight: The “Old Main” Cincinnati Public Library in Cincinnati, Ohio
In 1874, Cincinnati Public Library opened in a building that was designed to be an opera house. Patrons entered the building under the watchful eyes of William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Ben Franklin. The floors were marble tile. Whole walls of books. Alcoves for books. Grand displays of books. But, ventilation was bad and the paint started peeling. And, the library outgrew the space. Cincinnati Public Library built a new library, and “Old Main,” as it was called, was demolished in 1955 with no fanfare. The busts of Bill, John, and Ben were saved for the new library’s garden, though. The site is now a parking garage – which is actually kind of handy when you’re going to the new downtown library. The new downtown library seems to have outgrown its space, too, though. I rarely looked up a book that I didn’t have to request from the librarian. You hand them the call number and they disappear into the mysterious basement archive – not to find antiquarian tomes, but for regular old 20th century fiction. I’m sure that if Old Main existed today, and it was threatened, there’d be a rally and a movement to save it. Whether we’d win or not, well…
Day Nine: The Berry Hotel in Athens, Ohio
Edward Cornelius Berry of Athens, Ohio, was a “free black who was educated at the Albany Enterprise Academy,” according to the historical market that tells the story of his hotel. In 1892, Berry purchased the J. B. Allen building on Court Street and turned it into the nationally recognized and admired “Berry Hotel.” Apparently, Berry was the first hotelier to offer closets in individual rooms. He was also the first to place a bible in hotel rooms. Berry owned and operated the hotel until 1923, and then the building went through a series of transformations and uses, including a stint as an Ohio University dormitory. It was demolished in 1974. A prefab, silver diner stands in its place now, completely out of context with the surrounding architecture.
Day Ten: Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hall in Toledo, Ohio
In 1884, Toledo Soldiers’ Memorial Association broke ground on a building to honor the Civil War soldiers who died in battle. They wanted to do something beyond the usual statue, so they erected a building that included a meeting hall, parlors in which smaller groups could meet, and a museum for war relics. After World War I, people became less interested in “the glorious dead,” and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial became a roller rink until Masons razed it in 1955 to make way for a parking lot.
Day Eleven: The Ice House in Portsmouth, Ohio
In 1842, Portsmouth Brewery opened in the “west end” on Second Street in Portsmouth, Ohio. The partners who started the brewing company brewed English style ales, even though lagers were the popular beers of the times. In 1888, Julius Esselborn purchased the brewery, and turned things around. He added an ice house to the business – so lagers could “condition” at appropriate cold temperatures. He also sold some ice. After Julius died in 1900, his son kept the business strong through both the Rose Law AND the Great Flood of 1913. Prohibition loomed, though, and finally got ’em in 1918. The Mault family purchased the brewery in 1995, and began producing beer again in 1997. The ice house stood steady but ignored on Front Street, near the popular flood wall murals, until 2010. A wrecking ball didn’t take it down, though. The ice house blew down in a wind storm, which reduced it to a pile of rubble.
Day Twelve: The Church of the Transfiguration in Cleveland, Ohio
The Church of the Transfiguration on Euclid Avenue near The Cleveland Clinic went through a lengthy legal battle between the diocese and an offset group that continued to worship in the church. Eventually, the church sat vacant while the sale was made to The Cleveland Clinic and the Cleveland Landmarks Commission made recommendations regarding artifacts and architectural features of the building. Thieves stole three saint statues during the years that the building deteriorated, but the Cleveland Museum of Art and other keepers of historical lore received relics from the church’s former glory. Despite the Cleveland Landmarks Commission’s request to reuse or incorporate the facade in the new development, The Cleveland Clinic ultimately demolished the structure in January 2014 to build a Holiday Inn.
Day Thirteen: The Liberty Theater in Youngstown, Ohio
The Liberty Theater in Youngstown, Ohio, seated 1700 people when it opened as a vaudeville house in 1918. The Paramount Pictures Corporation purchased the theater in 1929 so they could modernize the building to show “talkies.” The final film was screened in the theater in 1976. Although many well-intentioned owners acquired the building through the years, the building sat vacant and deteriorating while plans were discussed. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Most if the owners who possessed the building wanted to restore it, but sold it to the next guy when plans or funding wouldn’t work. The city of Youngstown received a grant to demolish the building in 2011. There was some talk about saving the facade, which would have apparently cost more than the demolition. The wrecking ball hit in July 2013. It is now a parking lot.
Day Fourteen: The Hutchinson House in Upper Arlington, Ohio
At 192 years old, it was one of the oldest stone houses in Franklin County. Built by Amaziah Hutchinson, a Revolutionary War veteran, the house was known as “Hutchinson House.” Located on Riverside Drive, the stone house wasn’t officially a part of Upper Arlington until a developer had it annexed. That same developer, Preferred Living, LLC, delayed demolition by a month so the local historical society, who inherited the structure upon its annexation, could document the house in photos, as well as save as many stones as possible. The building was razed in November 2013.
Day Fifteen: City Hall in Columbus, Ohio
Built in 1872, the Columbus City Hall building was the first in the city to be constructed solely for city government use. It was damaged profusely by fire in 1921, but like Cincinnati’s “Old Main” public library, no one really blinked an eye. A theater was built in it’s place – The Ohio Theater at 39 East State Street, which itself was almost demolished. It was saved from the wrecking ball at the very last minute by a group of concerned citizens, and is now one of the city’s greatest treasures. I’m certain that the folks who worked to save the Ohio Theater were told that they were crazy and unreasonable for getting involved when the destruction was imminent. To save these structures and preserve a sense of place in our communities, there’s never a bad time to get involved. Or be a little crazy:)
Day Sixteen: The Albee Theater in Cincinnati, Ohio
It cost E. F. Albee, vaudeville theater owner and distant relative of playwright Edward, $4 million to build the Albee Theater on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. It opened in December 1927, and the first movie to play there was “Get Your Man,” starring Clara Bow, the It Girl of her time. It had an opulent interior, one screen, and seated 3,500 guests. It was torn down in 1977, although the facade was saved and built into the 5th Street side of the Convention Center. A Westin Hotel now occupies the former Albee Theater space. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but delisted due to demolition.
Day Seventeen: The Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum in Cleveland, Ohio
When it was completed in 1855, the Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum was the second of six asylums built in Ohio in the mid 1800s. The main building featured one hundred beds – all ready to take the insane out of jails and charitable housing. Early in the asylum’s tenure, patients and staff dined together. But, in 1872, it was damaged by fire, and after some reconstruction, it held 650 beds. Just two years later, overcrowding was reported. By 1946, the state-supported facility fielded accusations of brutality, neglect and squalor. Along the way, it changed names and became Cleveland State Hospital, which was phased out in 1972. In 1975, the building became housing for the developmentally disabled. It was demolished in 1977.
Day Eighteen: Wright Aeronautical Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio
In 1903, after years of honing their engineering skills in their bicycle shops, the Wright Brothers of Dayton, Ohio sustained flight in a controlled, fixed-wing aircraft – securing a spot for themselves in aviation history. A few years later, in 1917, younger brother Orville established Wright Aeronautical Laboratory at 15 North Broadway in Dayton. He spent his days designing devices such as a water storage tank that collected and recycled rainwater and a central vacuum system for Hawthorn Hill, his seventeen acre estate in nearby Oakwood. Orville died in 1948. The Wright Aeronautical Laboratory was demolished in 1976 to make way for a gas station that was never built. A memorial that includes a statue of Orville, as well as a reproduction facade of the original lab, had been built in its place. The estate in Oakwood still stands, although now on only three acres.
Day Nineteen: Olentangy Park Theater in Columbus, Ohio
In 1880, Robert Turner purchased an already popular picnic and swimming spot along the Olentangy River. Turner built a tavern, named it “The Villa,” and enjoyed being a favorite destination for picnickers and swimmers. The Columbus Railway, Power and Light Company bought “The Villa” in 1895 as a possible way to encourage traffic on their North High Street trolley route. Then, in 1899, the Dusenbury brothers purchased “The Villa” and added a roller coaster on the 100 acre property. They continued to add attractions, including the “Japanese Gardens” exhibit from the World’s Fair, the first American looping roller coaster, a zoo, a boathouse, an arcade, a dance hall, and, at the time, the largest theater in the United States (which is pictured here.) In the 1920s, Olentangy Park claimed the world’s largest swimming pool. But, in 1929, ownership changed hands again. The Depression caused a dip in profits. The LL LeVeque Company bought the park in 1937, and sold off the rides and equipment. The park officially closed in 1938. In 1939, the buildings were razed to develop the current Olentangy Village apartment complex – which isn’t bad, but it ain’t got a Loop the Loop.
Day Twenty: The Zimeroy Downs House in Chillicothe, Ohio
The Zimeroy Downs House was built in the mid-1890s for Zimeroy Downs, the Vice President of Citizens National Bank in Chillicothe, Ohio. It was owned by the city and in a state of neglect when the First Baptist Church applied to have it demolished. The church negotiated with a design board, and agreed to keep the arched porch. But, as these things go, the demolition crew continued to destroy the arches until the city stopped them. The entirety of the structure was demolished in July 2006. The church delayed commentary on the situation, but when they did, they apparently shared new architectural plans for the site. The plans were reportedly sensitive to the neighborhood streetscape.
Day Twenty-One: The Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio Penitentiary was first built in 1813, but the number of incarcerated persons quickly outgrew the space. The state built the facility on Neil and Spring in Columbus, Ohio in 1834. Women’s quarters were built inside the prison walls in 1837. It became the place for executions in 1885, first by hanging and then by electrocution. A fire killed approximately 300 inmates in 1930. At its peak in 1955, it housed 5,200 prisoners. Writers Chester Himes and O. Henry both served time within its walls. The Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio replaced the Ohio Pen when it shut its doors in 1984. The building stood vacant for a decade, sometimes used as a training facility for the Ohio National Guard or the odd set of a TV movie. The state sold it to the city in 1995, and the city demolished it in 1998. The Arena District is now in its place. What was once a prison is now a hockey arena.
Day Twenty-Two: Union Station in Columbus, Ohio
Union Station in Columbus, Ohio served train passengers from 1850 until the late 1970s. The station with the ornate arches was the third version of Union Station in Columbus, and was built in 1897. Designed by Chicago firm Daniel H. Burnham & Company, the Arcade was a unique structure with its arches and shops and offices along High Street. Train travel grew less popular as the 20th century marched on, and dwindled to almost a halt when Amtrak took over rail services in the early 1970s. A plan brewed to demolish Union Station to make way for a convention center, and Battelle Memorial Institute brought the wrecking crew in just as evening fell on a night in late October 1976. They were hoping to destroy the building before preservationists could intervene, but one managed to call a judge anyway. The judge gave the order to stop demolition, but by then, only one arch was intact enough to save. It now stands in the Arena District, on the site of the former Ohio Penitentiary. I was told tonight at a meeting about saving another landmark that the debacle with the Union Station demolition prompted the formation of Columbus Landmarks Foundation.
Day Twenty-Three: Marion Brewery & Bottling Company in Marion, Ohio
In the late 1800s, many cities could claim multiple breweries, but the Marion Brewery & Bottling Company existed as the lone brewery in the city of Marion during those beer-happy years before Prohibition. It started in 1894 with Charles Earnest as brewmaster. The brewery debuted their simply named “Marion Beer” in 1896. They kept the product line as simple as they kept the name until 1908. After the Rose Law (which prohibited beer halls or establishments from selling alcoholic beverages) was enacted, the brewery made near-beer until legal drinking establishments re-emerged as early as 1911. But, another vote to prohibit the sale and manufacturing of alcohol, in 1915, led to its demise. Several other businesses used the space through the years for automobile storage and popcorn processing. Then, in the 1970s, it sat vacant. The main building was demolished in 1980, but the small building remains.
Day Twenty-Four: Odd Fellows Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio
The corner of 7th and Elm in downtown Cincinnati has seen a few different structures in its 200 years. It was first the site of the home of Jacob Burnet, an Ohio Supreme Court Justice and US Senator. It was destroyed in 1885. Then, it was the site of The Panorama, a circular building, not made to be permanent. The Panorama was home to a stage show that re-enacted scenes from the Battle of Sedan from the Franco-Prussian War. It closed in 1887. In 1894, Odd Fellows Hall was completed. Important (and prolific) Cincinnati architect, Samuel Hannaford, was selected to design the building. Hannaford is known for designing Cincinnati landmarks such as City Hall and Music Hall, as well as a bevy of others. In 1941, Western and Southern Insurance purchased Odd Fellows Temple. By 1946, it was a parking garage, which still stands today.
Day Twenty-Five: The William Salway House in Cincinnati, Ohio
William Salway was superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery from 1883 to 1925. Originally from England, he was a popular landscape gardener who was tending the grounds of a cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut when Henry Probasco, the president of Spring Grove, offered him a generous salary, as well as a new house, to come to Cincinnati. Samuel Hannaford, that important and prolific architect who designed Odd Fellows Temple, City Hall and Music Hall, designed the Queen Anne that stood on the corner of Gray and Winton Roads. The house was large, and apparently the upkeep grew expensive through the years – as did the value of the land beneath it. It was demolished in 1984.
Day Twenty-Six: Building 26 in Dayton, Ohio
In 1942, the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, joined forces with naval engineers to invent code-breaking machines superior to the British versions that German technology had already outpaced. In the midst of WWII, the US needed a machine that could crack German Enigma codes almost as fast as the Germans received them. Joseph Desch worked for the National Cash Register Company. He made it happen in an Art Deco building that was constructed in 1938. Desch died in 1987, almost ten years before his role and the story of the code-breakers was declassified by the US government. The building where the technological advances were made got a facelift in the 1960s. The University of Dayton bought the building, or “Building 26,” as it was known, in 2005. They demolished it in 2008. There was an inquiry into whether or not the building met the criteria to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There was some contention among agencies before declaring that the building did not meet those standards. From what I’ve learned, that listing doesn’t protect a place anyway.
Day Twenty-Seven: Ladies’ Comfort Station in Logan, Ohio
In 1906, three determined women from the Logan, Ohio, “Village Improvement Society,” worked to start a “ladies comfort station” in their town. A comfort station was a public restroom facility – and those did not exist at the time, at least not for women. Women could not enter a local building to use the facilities. Rebecca Wright, Fannie Dougherty and Mary Rannells proposed the comfort station, but they could not vote, and the plans did not pass local legislation. Not to be deterred, the women tried again. They raised enough money that when they took the issue back to ballot, the town would only need to give them $1,000 to build the facility. From it’s debut in 1916 until 1921, the building was of use to at least 96,867 guests, which is the number of people who signed their names in the guest book. It became an art gallery, which it remained for several years. In 1990, the Ladies Comfort Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That same year, the town wanted the land, but not the building, so it was moved to the Diamond Roadside area at Hocking College. The college did not want to take ownership, though. It was demolished.
Day Twenty-Eight: The McDannald Homestead in Westerville, Ohio
The McDannald Homestead was built in 1856 by John McDannald. His parents came from Virginia to settle in the Westerville, Ohio, and were active in the development of Blendon Township, Central College and the Underground Railroad. Their homestead served as a station on the Underground Railroad. The McDannald Pioneer Homestead, as it came to be known, was torn down in 1994. The historic marker that explained the history of the homestead still stood while the land was being developed, but fell into disrepair.
Day Twenty-Nine: Cooley Farms in Warrensville Township, Ohio
Harris Reid Cooley was a minister and reform leader at the turn of the 20th century. He became friends with a man in his congregation, and that man became mayor of Cleveland in 1901. The new mayor, Tom Johnson, appointed Cooley as “Director of Charities and Correction.” The men believed that criminal activity in a person’s life was most often caused by a person’s environment. In 1902, they purchased 2,000 acres in Warrensville Township. They built four major structures – each on its own 500 acres. One was “Correction Farm,” which was also referred to as Cleveland Workhouse. It was a penal institution. Another was a cemetery. A tuberculosis sanatorium was built, as well. But the “Colony Farms,” as it was called, had many functions. On its grounds, it had a poorhouse, an infirmary, a halfway house, and housing for elderly couples. It was also referred to as “Cooley Farms,” for the man who made it happen. The photo below is the infirmary, which was demolished.
Day Thirty: The Toledo City Market in Toledo, Ohio
The Toledo City Market was a city-run farmers’ market designed by Edward Oscar Fallis, a popular architect in the Midwest in the early 1900s. E. O. Fallis, as he was known, was also known for his dedication to “civic betterment.” In 1908, he designed the Toledo City Market as a “market house.” It featured 306 selling spaces for grocers. It eventually became the City of Toledo Service Building. It was added to the National Register in 1972, and demolished in 1983.
Day Thirty-One: The Ashland County Jail House in Ashland, Ohio
The Ashland County Jail House was built in 1886, which just so happens to be the same year that the Mansfield Reformatory was built, not far from Ashland, Ohio where the Ashland County Jail House sat on a corner in town. The Mansfield Reformatory is the Shawshank Redemption prison, for all you movie buffs. But, I don’t know if there is a connection except for both being built in 1886. The Ashland County Jail House is a far cry from the jails that exist today, which might be why it was demolished in 1976.
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One important lesson learned from this project was this: you don’t have to give people much history of a structure in order to get them to care about it. A little history goes a long way. People aren’t heartless about aging structures – mostly. You do come across the occasional cold heart who claims that “progress” equals the destruction of the old to make way for the shiny and new.
We walk or drive past pieces of our built environment without really knowing them – not because we’re mean or careless, but mostly because we’re busy. It’s a lot like the way a lot of us live among our neighbors. It only takes a little moment, one little fact, one brief conversation, to make a big impression.