The Buildings of Dayton: J.K. McIntire Company

Front entrance of the J.K. McIntire Company Building in downtown Dayton on October 4, 2016. PHOTO / Tom Gilliam
Front entrance of the J.K. McIntire Company Building in downtown Dayton on October 4, 2016. PHOTO / Tom Gilliam

Have you ever wanted to know the story behind Dayton's buildings?

Welcome to Buildings of Dayton. My name is Tom Gilliam, founder of DaytonGram and local freelance photographer. The goal of this series is to show Daytonians the history, current state and future possibilities of the Dayton area's historic buildings.

This week, we're taking a look at the J.K. McIntire Company Building, located at 601 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton. Here are some facts that might surprise you.

>> PHOTOS: J.K. McIntire Company Building

The J.K. McIntire Company Building, located in the city's Webster Station Historic District, was built in 1912 and originally served as a wholesale grocery warehouse business until 1928.

The six-story building was used by several small companies for warehouse space until 1933. That year, the General Electric Supply Company leased the building for storage and distribution of their electrical and motor products.

After World War Two, the building had a crucial role in the U.S. military's Manhattan Project: the development of the atomic bomb under the Dayton Project.

From 1946 to 1948 after the initial development of the bomb, the Monsanto Company leased the building's three upper floors, coined it the "Warehouse" and created a laboratory to test the biological impact of polonium radiation on humans.

General Electric remained on the three lower floors. Polonium is a radioactive element used to trigger atomic weapons and was produced as part of the Dayton Project. Thousands of urine samples from Dayton Project personnel were analyzed. In addition, the biological uptake and effects of polonium were studied on mice and rats. Nationally, polonium testing for impact on humans was very limited making the work performed in the McIntire Building one of the first in the U.S.

Currently vacant, the City of Dayton owns the property, just a short walk from the Cannery Lofts.

On September 22, 2016, I had the opportunity to photograph the interior of this structurally sound building.

 The J.K. McIntire Company Building, along with the C.F. Ware Coffee Company Building aka F.W. Lotz Paper Company Building (1895) and the DP&L Steam Plant (1907) were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Dayton Power & Light Building Group on April 12, 2006.

With Downtown Dayton's housing market booming, the most effective adaptive reuse for this property are loft style apartments with a commercial option on the ground floor. My hope is for a developer with the capital, resources and vision to bring this historic building back to life as part of the urban renaissance happening downtown.

Special thanks to Tony Kroeger & Amy Walbridge from the City of Dayton's Planning Department for providing historical information and additional resources for this series.