WHICH SHOULD BE SAVED? Preservation Dayton seeks public input to rescue historic properties

Preservation Dayton Inc. has launched a new program aimed at saving historic structures before they are lost forever.

The nonprofit is seeking public input to help determine which buildings should be added to its most-endangered historic properties list.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

PDI’s endangered-properties committee will choose 10 structures from the nominations to stabilize or control.

“We’ve seen so much of our historic fabric torn down as a solution to what is considered blight, and we’re losing so much history by doing that,” Fred Holley, chairman of the endangered properties committee, said. “PDI decided we needed to step in. We know 10 properties a year isn’t going to do the (entire) job, but it’s going to be a start.”

The organization’s short-term goal for the selected neglected property is to ensure it is water-tight and to repair or replace any windows or doors to limit further deterioration. The preservation group then plans to work with the current property owners to improve the site or market the property to a “new, responsible owner,” Holley said.

PDI’s initial fundraising goal this year is $100,000, Holley said. An account, administered by The Dayton Foundation (#8630), has been established for community donations.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Nominations are due by March 31 and can be made online. Eligible properties can be from Dayton and its surrounding communities, and should meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 50 years old.
  • Exhibit one of the following characteristics of exceptional significance: Be associated with individuals, groups, events, or trends that have made a significant contribution to Dayton’s history, or retain distinctive features of a type, period or method of construction; or represent exceptional work of an architect(s) or craftsmen, or possess high architectural or artistic value.
  • Retain its historic integrity exhibited by its location, setting, design, materials, workmanship and association.

The organization has already received nearly a dozen nominations and would like to have 50 to choose from. The 2021 list of top endangered historic properties will be announced later in the spring.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

One of the nominations, the Traxler Mansion located at 42 Yale Ave. in the Dayton View Historic District, has been vacant for nearly a decade, Holley said.

The mansion was built around 1910 for Louis Traxler, a Dayton department store owner. The elegant 10,000 square-foot home is built in French Chateauesque-style, the same concept as the storied Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

In 1979 the Traxler Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. Forty years later it was added to Preservation Ohio’s list of the state’s most endangered historic sites.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

PDI’s goal is to reduce the number of structures that are demolished in the community that contribute to a “snaggle toothed” streetscape. Buyers and investors don’t want to go into an area filled with vacant lots, Holley said.

“That offers no incentive for anybody. A lot of these vacant properties, if they can be stabilized, become affordable homes for families.”

Holley said he believes the community values the quality, craftmanship and character of older structures. The nomination process is an opportunity to let the PDI board know what is important.

“I think the sale prices and the market rates in our historic districts, and the fact that houses are snatched up almost within a week of hitting the market, is an indicator that they do value the historic fabric and the neighborhoods that are designated as historic properties,” Holley said.

How to help:

Nominations for Preservation Dayton’s most endangered historic properties can be submitted at preservationdayton.com/endangered.

Contributions to the historic property stabilization fund can be made through The Dayton Foundation (#8630), on Preservation Dayton’s web page, https://www.preservationdayton.com/endangered.html or mailed to Preservation Dayton, Inc. P.O. Box 3614 Dayton, Ohio 45401.

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