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5 things you didn’t know about Gov. James M. Cox’s Dayton mansion

Published: Monday, July 31, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
By: Tom Gilliam

If you’ve lived in the Dayton area for a while, you’re probably familiar with Governor James M. Cox.

His purchase of a newspaper, now the Dayton Daily News, eventually launched Cox Enterprises. Needless to say, his Dayton legacy runs deep.

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Gov. Cox’s estate, a sprawling mansion and grounds known as Trailsend, is at 3500 Governors Trail Road in Kettering. 

Built in 1916 and 1917, it was designed by New York architect Oswald Hering in the French Renaissance architectural style with inspiration from the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

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"The residence is of the purest type of French architecture, the designer, Oswald Hering, of New York, having in mind the Petite Trianon at Versailles,” Cox wrote in his memoir, “Journey Through My Years.” 

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Here are some things to know about the Ohio governor’s former home.  

1.) LUXE

The 15,000 square foot home sits on five acres and includes six bedrooms/bathrooms, two tennis courts, a billiards room and an in-ground swimming pool located in the basement.

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Cox planned his 1920 presidential campaign with running mate and future 32nd President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) at Trailsend. FDR visited the Governor at Trailsend as President during his final visit to Dayton in 1940. 

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In Cox’s own words, from his memoir: "A vast assemblage made up from different sections of our state came to my home at Trailsend, in the country five miles from the center of Dayton. When they gathered together in a great natural bowl which the glaciers had carved, a moraine formation, it made a picture difficult to describe. Many inquired whence came the name 'Trailsend.' I have often been asked that question. In my travels through the country I have encountered it only in Wyoming. Senator Kendrick christened his home there with the same name. When I was campaigning in his state, he told me why. He had ridden horseback from Texas to his new habitat. It was the end of the trail with him. The genesis of my Trailsend was in some sense the same. Maps of the buffalo trails which the Indians followed show one which winds westward in its serpentine course from Hocking County and ends where I built my residence. Its terminus curls into an almost complete circle."

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"Tradition has it that this spot overlooking the great Miami Valley was a famous camping place for the Indians. Here they gathered after the hunt and perhaps after their battles as well. I was much too American to give my home a foreign name. Reflecting many times upon the pleasure that must have come to the red man at this end of the trail, and being certain, too, that I would live my life out there, I gave the name 'Trailsend' to the place where I have lived for almost thirty years," wrote Cox, in “Journey Through My Years.”  

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Trailsend was Gov. Cox's primary residence until his death on July 15, 1957. After Cox's death in 1957, Trailsend was sold and became a private club from 1958-1982 called the Trails End Social Club

Danis Properties Co. Inc. bought Trailsend in 1986 and did a 2.5 million dollar renovation.

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In 2005, Charles W. Spear purchased the property for $1.5 million to hold business meetings and events but faced foreclosure in 2012. 

The property was sold on April 24, 2015 to an owner who prefers to stay anonymous at this time. As of July 2017, future plans call for a private residence and possible event space.

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