Dayton mansion third building lost recently off history group’s endangered list

Extensive fire damage to the historic Louis Traxler Mansion means it may become the third property lost in just two years from a Dayton preservation group’s top 10 “endangered properties” list.

The West Dayton home on the National Register of Historic Places is likely “a total loss,” fire officials said Monday.

The home built in 1912 at 42 Yale Ave. was set for auction via sheriff’s sale and tax foreclosure May 4, according to Preservation Dayton Inc. President Monica Snow. The auction is still scheduled, she said Monday, while urging area leaders to take action to upgrade and safeguard vacant and historic properties.

“We have to stop this madness,” Snow said. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”

Last year, PDI endangered properties the Gem City Ice Cream Building and the Snediker House were demolished. Both properties, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, respectively, posed safety risks due to the possibility of collapsing, records show.

The weekend fire at the Traxler Mansion has Preservation Dayton examining its options on how to move forward.

“Our hope is that we put in proactive solutions,” including property receivership, Snow said, “so that we’re not doing the same thing again.”

Those choices may have to wait until May, as Snow said PDI was told Monday the sheriff’s auction will move forward. The organization’s legal counsel has advised that the receivership process cannot be taken when property is under tax foreclosure, she said.

Snow argued the city of Dayton should take the following steps:

•Use of the receivership statute to address public nuisance properties.

•Enact civil penalties for LLC-owned public nuisances and derelict properties.

•Require vacant property registration with escalating fees for violators to motivate property owners.

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr., and City Manager Shelley Dickstein have not responded to requests for comment made since Sunday.

The preliminary cause and the origin of the fire, meanwhile, remain under investigation, according to the Dayton Fire Department.

The investigation will be “comprehensive,” but how long it will take is uncertain, said Capt. Brad French of the fire department.

Investigators will study the possibility of squatters at the house, as well potential signs of arson, he said.

They will also “look at photos and documentation of the scene and try to see if there’s any additional information from witnesses,” French said.

Six Dayton fire trucks and several command staff vehicles responded to the scene shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday, he said.

“Due to the volume and intensity of the fire … and the complexity and age of the structure” crews did not enter the home, the fire department said in a release Monday. “Entry into the primary structure for search was not possible throughout the incident, due to fire conditions and subsequent concerns of collapse.”

No injuries were reported and firefighters remained on scene for about nine hours.

The 8,221 square foot home with four fireplaces was valued last year at $245,950, according to Montgomery County real estate records. It is owned by William Moore and Doris Moore, who list it as their mailing address, records state.

The fire department “does not hold the primary responsibility of contacting property owners in the aftermath of a fire,” French said in an email.

Attempts by the Dayton Daily News to contact the Moore family on Monday were unsuccessful.

The mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places individually in 1979 and again in 1984 as part of the Dayton View Historic District, according to Preservation Dayton.

The Flemish Chateauesque-style structure was built for Louis Traxler — president of the Traxler Department Store — and Adeline Traxler, and was reportedly designed by Harvey Hiestand, founder of Miami University’s College of Architecture, according to Preservation Dayton.

Louis Traxler was born in Austria in 1864, his family moved to the U.S. in 1883 and he came to Dayton in 1899. After starting his business, Traxler purchased the property in 1909 and had the home built, staying in the large two-story stone house until 1929, Preservation Dayton records state.

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