12 want to breathe new life into free historic mansion

Dayton View home that once belonged to Gov. James M. Cox could be given away to the right renovator.

A dilapidated but historic Dayton mansion — the former home of Gov. James M. Cox — has a good chance of being returned to “its former glory” after nearly 70 people responded to the current owner’s offer to give it away to an able renovator.


“I’m positive about it. We haven’t had any interest in the property for the last three or four years,” said Fred Holley, president of the Dayton View Historic District where the home is located.

Thirty people surveyed the interior of the home Tuesday with Holley. At the end of the open house, a dozen remained interested.

“These people seemed to be very preservation oriented and want to live in a historic neighborhood,” Holley said.

Last month we reported the current owner didn’t have the resources to renovate the home and was willing to let it go free to the right taker.

Holley, who also lives in the neighborhood, is shepherding the mission to find a new owner. But years of neglect have taken its toll and Holley has described the house as needing “major, major” work, including a new kitchen, all new bathrooms, a roof and updated electric.

The house, built in 1905 near the intersection of Grand and Salem avenues, was home to Cox until he moved to Columbus as governor in 1913.

It’s built in a combination of Queen Anne and Shingle styles with a foundation of granite stones precisely fitted together. The historic neighborhood, once home to Dayton’s elite, is filled with architectural styles spanning from the late 1880s to the 1920s.

Hawes Realty used the home for nearly 30 years until the owners retired. The home sat vacant for eight years until a buyer from upstate New York purchased it last year.

Terry Hanauer of Dayton, a retired engineer who is currently restoring a century-old home in East Dayton, is one of the people interested in the house and inspected it Tuesday.

“Like a lot of houses of this vintage, the bones are good,” he said. “It’s got a lot of things worth bringing back.”

Inside the multiple fireplaces and mantels remain intact and an ornately carved oak staircase leads visitors to the second floor.

“This would not be for the faint of heart,” Hanauer said. “It needs somebody who has their eyes wide open and has a realistic appreciation for what it will take to put it back to its former glory.”

Holley, along with neighborhood board members and a city of Dayton historic preservation officer, will screen the remaining candidates to learn more about their financial resources, experience with historic preservation and proposed plans for renovation.

“We want someone who understands what they are getting into and has the resources to carry out that plan,” Holley said. He hopes the team will select the new owner in 30 days.

Though only one person will wind up with the free house, the publicity surrounding the mansion could spur the others to keep considering the neighborhood, Holley said.

“Those who aren’t fortunate enough to get the house — they’re good candidates for other properties in the district.”

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