Find this local home rehabber’s photos on the ‘Cheap Old Houses’ Instagram

Woman has passion for art of homes, restoring them.

Growing up in the Southpark Historic District of Dayton, Alex Jackson watched her parents renovate and restore grand old homes.

“My parents once owned a duplex on Wayne Avenue and they lived on one side and rented the other,” Alex said. “Then they purchased another house in Southpark and when I was five years old, we moved in.”

The renovation and subsequent transformation of that house, accomplished almost entirely by Jackson’s parents, Greg and Kris Jackson, inspired Jackson’s own love of old homes and classic architecture. Then when Jackson was 13, her parents bought an 1810-era farmhouse in Washington Twp. that once belonged to the Mead family.

“My parents just loved doing these projects,” Jackson said. “I grew up watching them falling in love with older homes.”

Though Jackson developed a love of old homes herself, she admits she never did anything artistic during her childhood and never saw herself rehabbing old homes. She played sports at Centerville High School, from which she graduated in 2005. She decided to attend the University of Dayton and graduated in 2009 after majoring in entrepreneurship and management.

“My parents are both entrepreneurs,” Jackson said. “My father runs a company called Dayton Industrial and started out as a delivery driver and worked his way up to president. And my mom took over my grandfather’s tool and die business in 2000.”

After college graduation, though, Jackson moved back to her parents’ home and even tried living in Arizona for about a year.

“My parents used to take me to Arizona a lot as a child,” Jackson said. “I always loved it and wanted to live there but I was soon homesick for Dayton.”

In 2015, Jackson found her own old house and moved to Oakwood.

“I wasn’t looking specifically at Oakwood, but I knew what I wanted,” Jackson said. “My house needed some rehab but not much.”

Today Jackson is living in her second Oakwood home with her fiancé Chris Cook, her three-month-old son, Perry, and their rescued dog and two cats.

“I used to go on long walks with my dog in the neighborhoods,” Jackson said. “And I would take a lot of pictures of houses I liked.”

After accumulating hundreds of photos of houses, Jackson started brainstorming about how she could use the photos.

“I thought other people would find them interesting,” Jackson said. “I decided to start a dedicated Instagram page just for my photos.”

Jackson officially started Dayton Architecture in 2016 and the account features homes not just in Oakwood but also from areas all across the Dayton area. To help get the word out, she started growing her following with hashtags.

“I started in my own neighborhood and expanded from there,” Jackson said. “There are so many beautiful historic neighborhoods in Dayton so I would just put the dog in the car and drive down the street to take photos.”

The beauty inherent in old homes and architecture is what initially attracted Jackson. And after realizing that other people might find them attractive as well, Jackson got involved with both Preservation Dayton and the Oakwood Historical Society to help raise awareness about grand old Dayton homes.

The Instagram page took off, eventually garnering 19,000 followers and capturing the attention of an organization called “Cheap Old Houses,” which was searching for ambassadors across the country.

“I partnered with Cheap Old Houses and did some videos of houses,” Jackson said. “And I met up with Realtors and we did a few walking tours.”

Cheap Old Houses cross posts what Jackson posts on her own page and by working together, they are making a difference in Dayton and beyond.

“I think all we are doing is helping change the way people think of some neighborhoods,” Jackson said. “A lot of people have been scared and nervous about going to neighborhoods they don’t know.”

Jackson said the walking tours she has organized in neighborhoods like Grafton Hill and Dayton View, have helped encourage people to see places they might not know exist in Dayton and gives them new perspectives of older homes.

“Neighborhoods all over Dayton have seen a resurgence of people coming in and buying boarded up properties,” Jackson said. “They are fixing them up and either renting or reselling them or living in them.

Jackson says businesses like the Gem City Market are also helping build up some of these areas and that there are “endless opportunities” for people to bring them back to viability.

Since the birth of baby Perry, Jackson’ focus has naturally turned toward raising him, but her passion for Dayton and the older homes and neighborhoods continues.

“I think it’s important for people to be open minded, to look around and get out of their comfort zones,” Jackson said. “On my walking tours, I tell people to look up because a lot of these old buildings have some amazing details at the top!”

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