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Published: Tuesday, June 06, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— Did you know that there’s a two story building in Dayton with a ramp in the center that makes it possible for cars to drive between the first and second floors?
This week on The Buildings of Dayton, I'm going to tell you the story of the Central Motors Building, located at 800 W. Third St. right outside of the Wright Dunbar Historic Business District, also known as the West Third Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1926, very little information exists about the Central Motors Building. The 1927 Dayton Williams Directory lists The Central Motor Sales Co. as selling Oldsmobiles, Sedans, Coupes, Touring Cars and Roadsters, plus providing sales and service at 800 to 812 W. 3rd St.
Colleen Harrigan Staver was 7 years old when her father Tom Harrigan started his dealership in the building.
"It was the late summer of 1975 when my family moved to Dayton from Louisville,” Staver said. “My father was given the opportunity to purchase the Oldsmobile franchise from Mr. Dick Swartzel and he leased the building on W. Third St. from Mr. Swartzel.”
The dealership was then renamed Tom Harrigan Oldsmobile. Swartzel's father was the founder of Central Motors, which was one of several GM dealer distribution centers in the United States. Every Oldsmobile that was sold in this area was first cleared through Central Motors.
Staver remembers how large the building appeared to her.
"You would enter through a door on the left side of the building and be immediately in a huge showroom. My father said that they were able to get 30 cars in at one time and this was the age of the 70's full size sedan and the era of the land yacht!” she said. “Other memories of the massive showroom were the sales offices along the back wall, where my father was in the sales manager office and a gentleman by the name of Dee Birdsall had the other larger office as he was in charge of fleet purchases. On the left side was the customer waiting room and behind it was the accounting office. These were the two rooms I spent the most time in with my sister who was two years my junior. So here we are, (ages) 7 and 5, playing in these two rooms where I guess they felt we could do the least damage."
"One of the most memorable features was this giant ramp that went from the back of the main level of the showroom to a service department on the second story,” Staver said. “I still to this day have never seen another dealership with a service department on the second floor. It was very unique and quite large even by today's standards. In speaking with my father he said in addition to the service department there was a body shop as well with 15 service bays and 10-15 body shop bays," said Staver.
There was also a time when the dealership had a visit from a local celebrity.
"I liked the waiting room because there were vending machines. It was also in this area that we were introduced to a Dayton legend, Dr. Creep,” Staver said. “My father, trying to start his new business, was running various promotions and one time through Channel 22, he had Dr. Creep make a special appearance. It was so exciting! Dr. Creep was one of the nicest people you could ever meet and he made us feel special. I will never forget it," she said.
>> PHOTOS: The Old Post Office Building in Dayton
In 1976, Harrigan moved his dealership across town.
"We were only at that location for 18 months before moving the Oldsmobile franchise to Salem Avenue across from the Salem Mall, but even in that short time it made a big impression on me," Staver said.
Wright Dunbar, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the management and development of the historic Wright Dunbar Business District has owned the building since January 2010. Prior to the purchase, it was used as a recycling company.
Current commercial real estate listings call the building "West Side Chevy.”
"We'd love to see this as a brewery or restaurants or even creative collaborative space. We'd love something that would spur foot traffic, not storage or a warehouse. I think the building could even be awesome lofts," said Erica Hubler, Director of Real Estate/Property Management at Wright Dunbar, Inc.
John Gower, Wright Dunbar Inc. Board Member and Urban Design Director at CityWide Development spoke with me about the vision for this building’s future.
“I think that we could describe our vision with this historic building is to first seek a reuse which will reactivate it on a daily basis. We would like to see the building sensitively rehabilitated, re-establish the storefronts and large display windows along Third Street and have uses in the building that will create vibrant comings and goings throughout any day of the week.”
Special thanks to Tony Kroeger & Amy Walbridge from the City of Dayton's Planning Department, Erica Hubler & John Gower from Wright Dunbar, Inc. and Colleen Harrigan Staver for providing historical information and additional resources for this article.
Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— Louis Graeter began selling ice cream at neighborhood street markets when he moved to the Cincinnati in 1868, and thus began the Graeter’s brand.
Graeter’s has been known for (among other things) its massive chocolate chips.
>> RELATED: 7 great places to get frozen treats in Dayton
Here are three other things to know about the Cincinnati-based ice cream franchise.
1. French pot method. Under the operation of the fourth generation of the Graeter family, Graeter’s egg custard-based ice cream is made the same way Louis did in the 1800s. All ingredients are pasteurized, cooked and combined in a flavor vat and then frozen in 2.5 gallon batches in French Pot freezers.
Graeter’s now is the only commercial ice cream manufacture anywhere in the world to use the French Pot method and its batches are the smallest in the industry. The original plant in Mount Auburn had only four pots, while the current facility in Bond Hill has 36 French Pots running day and night to keep up with the demand.
2. Packed by hand. The ice cream is too thick to pump into pint containers as is common, so Graeter’s does it the old fashioned way – by hand. On a typical day, the company hand-packs nearly 20,000 pints with its fastest packers averaging up to 15 pints a minute.
3. Sneaky addition. Louis Graeter’s son, Wilmer, snuck some chocolate from his mother and poured it into a pot of frozen ice cream, inventing Graeter’s chocolate chunks. The chunks are created from melted chocolate mixed with a small amount of vegetable oil and added into a spinning pot when the ice cream is almost completely frozen. It spins for a few minutes to harden into a shell and then is scraped off by hand with a paddle into the ice cream, creating different sized chunks.
Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 10:43 AM
— What better place for a spooky good time during Halloween than a cemetery?
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, located at 118 Woodland Ave., Dayton, just released an app that makes it easier to visit the 109,000 people buried there since it opened in 1841.
The free “Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum” mobile app is available for Apple and Android devices.
Users can search by name: first, last or both. They can also take a pre-designed tour. Thus far, only Woodland’s 45-minute self-guided historical tour has been added.
Angie Hoschouer, the cemetery’s development and marketing manager, said self-guided versions of several other tours, including those featured on the sold-out and extremely popular History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder Tour, will be added as well. Those featured on the tour can be found on the app.
Below are four bone-chilling gravesites you should visit. Details on the gravesites and individuals buried there is from Woodland Cemetery, Dayton History Online and the Dayton Daily News archive.
Deceased: Christina Kett
Section 100 | Lot 2179 | Tier 3 | Grave 13
Death: March 9, 1884 at age 65
The mystery of who killed pretty 18-year-old Christine Kett Jun. 11, 1867 lingered for 17 years.
Suspects had included Christine’s brother, a neighborhood teenager, a stranger seen in the area when the murder was committed, her boyfriend and even her own mother, Christina.
A deathbed murder confession revealed the truth.
Before taking her final breath, Christina Kett told her son that she bludgeoned Christine in the head with a short-handed axe when the young woman did not come home on time to make dinner.
In an attempt to cover what was considered the city’s “most horrible and fiendish” crime at time, Kett place her daughter’s fingers in the powder flask of her son’s revolver and smeared the Christine’s face with powder.
She reportedly told her son that that the young woman’s image haunted her from that day forward.
Deceased: Maggie Lehman
City Lot | Lot #1 | Tier 20 | Grave 18
Death: Sept. 19, 1891 at age 36
The blue-eyed and blond “lady of the night” had four children and made a vow to turn her life around after they were taken away and placed in the Children’s Home.
Jacob Harvey, the pimp and boyfriend Maggie had met in the brothel formerly owned by famed Dayton madam Lib Hedges, was having none of this.
He abused Maggie, and was sent to the Dayton Workhouse for 60 days.
Maggie eventually got her children back, but Jacob would not go away -- even after Maggie claimed to have a new boyfriend, Newton Chubb, a bartender at the brothel which by then was called “the Abbey.”
Jacob beat Maggie again when she refused to leave Newton and date him again. He was sentenced again to the workhouse.
While in jail, Jacob told officers and other prisoners he would escape and kill Maggie and her new boyfriend.
They laughed, but he did just that.
Jacob escaped and left the area, only to come back to town to find Maggie at the Abbey.
He was seen dragging the woman from the brothel’s porch and shot her behind the ear with a revolver, according to Woodland’s description of the crime.
After the shooting, Jacob walked to the Point saloon and asked the owner, Al Bloch, for a glass of beer. Then, living a cigar, he remarked, “I just killed a damned bitch down there. I shot her twice.” Harvey then went on to relate the rest of the particulars of the crime to the astounded barkeeper.
Jacob Harvey was hung on June 28, 1892.
>> MORE: 5 of Dayton's most shocking murders
THE GHOST ON THE BRIDGE
Deceased: Bessie Little
Section 111 | Lot #3009 | Tier 3 | Grave 15
Death: Sept. 2, 1896 at age 23
Albert J. Frantz was accused of shooting his pregnant lover Bessie Little on the Ridge Avenue Bridge on Aug. 27, 1896, and trying to pass her death off as a suicide.
Bessie's decomposed body was found floating in the Stillwater River. Prosecutors argued that Albert murdered the 23-year-old because he did not want to marry her.
According to a piece titled “The Story of the Bessie Little Bridge” by former Dayton Daily News columnist and local historian Roz Young, then-Dayton Chief Farrell “testified at the preliminary hearing that Frantz told him he had taken Bessie for a ride in his rig and that as they approached the bridge, she shot herself twice in the head. He panicked when he realized he might be blamed for her death and threw her body into the river.”
Prosecutors said the first bullet killed Bessie, so there was no way she could have shot herself that second time in the head.
Her head was brought into the courtroom on the second day of the trial causing many to faint. Coroner Lee Corbin removed it from the jar it was stored in to show jurors the path of the bullets.
The jury didn’t believe the whole "she shot herself twice in the right ear" defense. They found Albert guilty after six days and more than 100 witnesses. He professed his innocence until the day he was executed by the state on Nov. 19, 1897. Albert was only the fourth man in Ohio history to meet death in the electric chair after the current was turned on and off five times. He could be heard groaning after each turn. Disowned by her adopted family due to her pregnancy, Bessie was at first buried in Potter’s Field.
The family had the body moved to Woodland Cemetery shortly after Albert’s execution.
Bessie’s ghost is said to haunt the Ridge Avenue Bridge, which is nicknamed the Bessie Little Bridge. The bridge she died on was replaced in 1927. That bridge was demolished in 2014 as part of a $5.2 million Ridge Avenue Bridge project. A new bridge took its place.
>> HISTORICAL CRIMES: This Dayton landlady helped nab infamous bank robber John Dillinger
STOVE TOP KILLER
Deceased: Mary Knight
Dayton State Hospital Section
Last year, Dayton History staged a re-enactment of Mary Knight’s 1895 murder trial.
Mary would not win the world’s greatest daughter award. This only child with an “appetite for strong drink” was tried for the bloody death of her mother Catherine “Grandmother Hark” Hark.
The supposed murder weapon: the cross-piece of a stove top covered in hair and blood.
Mary moved into her mother’s cottage on North Urbana Street after she and her husband had a violent fight. The women fought often due to Mary’s drinking, and neighbors often walked into the house to try to make peace between them.
Screams broke out the morning of May 10, 1895, and neighbors debated in their front yards if they should call police.
Mary walked out of the house and stumbled down the street. Neighbors assumed she was “drunk again,” and went back into their own homes.
A short time later, a man spotted Mary standing on the porch looking into the window.
“Horrible! Horrible! Look,” she screamed, according to Woodland’s account.
Mary denied killing her mother, but was convicted on what the judge called “circumstantial evidence.”
Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— As the war soldiers on in the South over what to do with memorials to Confederate generals and soldiers, we are reminded that Dayton has its own towering monuments.
None, however, pay tribute to those who died in service to the Confederacy.
Ohio History Connection, a nonprofit formed in 1885 as the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, says 310,654 Ohioans served as part of the Union Army in the Civil War.
That was the third largest number of soldiers from any Union state.
More than 35,000 Ohioans died fighting the war, the organization’s website says.
Here are three Dayton-area memorials that remind us of their efforts.
THE DAYTON PRIVATE
More than 100,000 people watched Montgomery Country dedicate the Union Soldiers’ Monument on Main Street on July 31, 1884.
The ceremony came less than two decades after the end of the Civil War.
Its model was Pvt. George Washington Fair, a Dayton-born carpenter and bricklayer who mustered into the Union Army in 1861 and out in 1865.
The marble monument was moved to Sunrise Park on Riverview Avenue in 1948 and returned to Main Street in 1991.
It was damaged by the elements and replaced in bronze form. The original statue of Private Fair is now located under a portico at the VA Hospital.
A beardless scultpture of slain U.S. President Abraham Lincoln that transformed Courthouse Square was unveiled Saturday Sept. 17, 2016.
The 11-foot-tall bronze tribute commissioned by the Lincoln Society of Dayton shows Lincoln before his election as the nation’s first Republican president. It commemorates his speech in Dayton on the steps of the Old Court House on Sept. 17, 1859 as part of his tour of Ohio.
The speeches Lincoln gave laid out his arguments against slavery and are credited with helping him win his party’s presidential nomination.
Elected in 1960, Lincoln was president during the Civil War over slavery and states’ rights.
John Wikes Booth assassinated Lincoln on April 15, 1865 in Washington D.C.’s Ford Theatre.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army just five days before Lincoln’s murder, ending the Civil War.
THE FIRST MAJOR
Martin Robison Delany was inducted into the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame on Sept. 22, 2016.
President Lincoln appointed Delany field rank major in 1865. He was the highest-ranking African-American officer in the Civil War and the only one to attain his rank.
The Hall of Fame is in Dayton’s Wright-Dunbar neighborhood.
>> Neighborhood Guide: Wright-Dunbar
Delany was born in Charles Town, Virginia in 1812 and died January 24, 1885 in Xenia. Delany, an abolitionist, physician, and editor in the pre-Civil War period, advocated black people emigrating out of the country to achieve equality.
In his time, he had been both a Democrat and Republican.
His papers were destroyed in a fire at Wilberforce University on April 14, 1865, according to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Encyclopedia Virgina, “leaving scholars forever to wonder which of his writings they haven't read and what other directions his mind might have taken him.”
A friend of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Delany’s gravesite can be found at Massies Creek Cemetery near Wilberforce, where he practiced medicine until his death on January 24, 1885.
A newer monument to Delany was erected near the Civil War-era tombstone that misspelled his last name.
A marker was installed near the PPG Place complex in downtown Pittsburgh in 1991, recognizing Delany’s historical importance.
Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017 @ 1:15 PM
— Charline McIntosh did more than stand by her man.
The Dayton woman — a transplant from Little Rock, Ark. like her larger-than-life husband — knows a lot about the turmoil and heartache that often came with being married to a passionate, fearless man committed to civil rights in the 50s and 60s.
Even before W.S. McIntosh died trying to stop a robbery attempt, Tynnetta McIntosh said her grandmother faced a long list of adversity that included her home being set ablaze after her husband tried to calm tensions during the 1966 West Dayton riots.
J.W. McIntosh, Tynnetta’s father and W.S. and Charline’s only child, was so shunned due to his father’s work that he gave way his belongings to win friends.
Not even every black Daytonian in 1950s and 1960s wanted W.S. McIntosh to rock the boat, Elba McIntosh, Tynnetta’s mother and the ex-wife of the late J.W. McIntosh, recalled.
She guessed that Charline would have loved an easier life.
“A lot of people didn’t appreciate it (the push for civil rights) and felt a little uncomfortable about it,” Elba said. “The fact is that she stuck by him through it.”
Charline (sometimes spelled Charlene) McIntosh’s 100 birthday was celebrated on Sunday, August 6, 2017 at Genesis HealthCare at the Forest View Center in Trotwood.
Trotwood Mayor Mary A. McDonald read a proclamation honoring McIntosh, a former real estate agent, on her birthday.
Jessie O. Gooding, a former president of Dayton’s NAACP, former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw and State Senator Peggy Lehner were among those thanked as part of the program.
Tynnetta McIntosh called her grandmother the loving backbone of the family and of her grandfather’s civil rights work.
“She really sort of organized in the background. W.S. was the public face,” Tynnetta said. “I think she is probably an unsung hero.”
The McIntosh name is celebrated in the Dayton area despite of the sorrow it suffered.
In recognition of his work, the Dayton City Commission renamed Riverview Park the W.S. McIntosh Park in 1996.
The W. S. McIntosh Memorial Leadership Award at the University of Dayton is awarded annually to Dayton minority students to cover tuition and other costs.
As a child, Tynnetta McIntosh, now JPMorgan Chase’s New York-based director of corporate internal communications, said she remembers her grandfather being stopped on the street by admirers and getting into heated debates about the plight of Dayton’s black residents.
“I grew up knowing he was active and he focused on making sure black people had the same opportunity as everyone else,” she said.
Still, she did not fully grasp the depth of her grandfather’s work or her grandmother’s sacrifice until she started cleaning out her grandmother’s Thistle Drive home to move her to the nursing home a three years ago.
“She kept everything,” Tynnetta said.
She found everything from notes her grandmother took as secretary of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) — her grandfather was the group’s executive director — to a recording of a song wrote in her grandfather’s honor.
Many of the McIntosh documents have been give to Dayton History at Carillon Historical Park.
Having a grandfather involved in helping open up opportunities for blacks in Dayton had an impact on Tynnetta’s life.
She is involved in arts organizations that focus on diversity like the Sphinx Organization.
“They never really had much, but it shows that one person can make a difference,” Tynetta said. “I do my best to make them proud of me.”
WHAT DID THE TROUBLEMAKER DO?
Labeled a troublemaker by some and investigated as a communist in 1952 by the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee, the man born Walter Sumpter McIntosh and known to many as “Mac” established the West Side Citizens Council in 1955 and used it to protest discriminatory hiring practices in West Dayton markets and banks.
McIntosh rallied against clothing stores and and the A&P grocery on West Third Street for their hiring practices.
As executive director of Dayton’s CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) chapter and a business owner, McIntosh helped organize the 1963 picket against Rike-Kumler Co. to get blacks better jobs in the downtown store.
After protests and boycotts, Rike’s and other downtown stores began hiring blacks as clerks and salespeople.
HOW DID W.S. MCINTOSH DIE?
Along with their son J.W. and daughter-in-law Elba, the McIntoshs opened the House of Knowledge, an afrocentric gift and book shop, in the Westown Shopping Center in 1967.
A House of Knowledge store later opened on South Main Street, making it the first black-owned business downtown, said Elba, a St. Thomas, Virgin Island-born University of Dayton graduate.
Elba said her father-in-law and husband were arrested on open day for disturbing the peace after they played a Malcolm X speech.
On March 4, 1974, McIntosh was killed in front of neighboring Green Jewelry Co. as he stood in the way of robbers fleeing Harry Potasky Jewelers, 42 S. Main St.
Then 16-year-old Derek Farmer and his 18-year-old nephew Calvin Farmer had pistol-whipped the store’s 81-year-old owner Harry Potasky during the robbery attempt.
Later that day, Dayton police Sgt. William K. Mortimer was killed in the Dunbar Manor housing complex trying to arrest the suspects. Mortimer saved two children who were in the line of fire.
Interviewed in 2014, Charline said her husband was passionate about his beliefs.
Her family said that at 100, she no longer hears well enough to be interviewed, but has a strong mind.
“He was trying to help people,” she said in that brief 2014 interview.
Elba now calls San Francisco home but was in Dayton for the party for Charline, who is called Boo Boo by family members.
Elba said her father-in-law was entrenched in civil rights and that made a huge impact on her life.
She recalled how H. Rap Brown, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s, was hiding from police in the basement of the Riverview Avenue home the family shared.
Elba grew a huge afro, much to the chagrin of her own father in predominantly black Saint Thomas, where race relations were much different than in the U.S.
Elba McIntosh divorced J.W. when her daughter was 10 and her son Damien was just 2. She raised the children in St. Thomas, but they often visit Dayton.
Elba said civil rights was more of .W.S’ passion, but it was Charline’s support that helped him push through and accomplish his goals.
“She is a very strong woman. As you can see, she is still around,” Elba said.