PLEASE READ!!!

***** ALL users will have to request a password reset BEFORE you will be able to log into the forum. See the thread in the forum issues section for further instructions. If you have issues with this, email us at admin@urbanohio.com. Also, check your spam folder. *****

We are still having a lot of users try to log on before resetting your password. You will continue to get an error until you reset your password!!

Author Topic: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)  (Read 103 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
Dayton’s first true shopping center was Miracle Lane, on Salem,, dating from 1946-47.  It was torn down a few years ago.

But there was a quasi-shopping older than Miracle Lane, and it still survives.

McCook Shopping Center on Keowee Street, at the edge of town in North Dayton, was probably the first true auto-oriented shopping center, but it developed in bits and pieces as sort of semi-planned commercial strip, but one with more than one lane of parking in front and buildings with low horizontal lines,  so it was probably the first place in Dayton where one could experience “shopping center space” that was to become ubiquitous in postwar suburbia.

An interesting feature of this shopping district was that two major businesses were a bowling alley and a movie theatre,.  A later tenant was Beermans Department Store (later to be Elder-Beerman), who had an early neighborhood store here.

McCook probably dates from around the time neighboring Parkside Homes was built.  The movie theatre opened in 1941, and probably the shopping center and bowling alley at around the same time, or just after the war.   

An aerial of Parkside, Homes (incidentally showing some interesting site planning for that project) and vicinity.   The shopping center is just at the edge of the pix




A close-up of the shopping center showing some salient features



The shopping center today (it is mostly abandoned), showing, first, that big bowling alley designed in a streamlined moderne style



Some details.   This bowling alley played a roll in the most intense labor conflict in postwar Dayton history.  It was the HQ for the UE picket line managers in the Univis Strike during the late 40s. 

Univis was located just around the corner on Leo Street (the building is still there), and a UE local tried to organize them in the late 40s.  The strike had over 1,000 –2,000 people on the picket lines and supporters, and the Ohio National Guard was called out to keep order.

So if you can imagine the Guard patrolling this area and thousands of people with picket signs marching around…..



McCook Theatre.  For a good history of this theatre check out Craig Dalton’s McCook page from “When Dayton Went to the Movies”.   The place apparently went porno in the 1970s.



Both the bowling alley and McCooks share a large vertical central feature on the façade, contrasting the with the horizontals elsewhere in the complex



McCook looking north, with a large building at the corner, which may have been the Beerman department store?   The curving corner is a nice little detail



Two more views of the same building, including the neat little entry detail, where the wall angles in from the fairly minimal sidewalk





The original stores. One of these has a rear entry, which we will see later.  The funny thing about the parking here is that there is that front lot, but the developers are still unsure, and keep this lot somewhat small and the stores somewhat close to the street (compared to later shopping centers).







Then , on Helena street, there is this related building, which fronts right on the sidewalk, but has some nice entry details, both at the corner and on the façade.   Again, parking to the rear and side



And a view of the rear parking lot and rear store entrance.



I am pretty sure this was a public entrance given how prominent this is on the back wall….




…and by the details too.  The decorative block work and modernistic cone-shaped spotlights imply this was a public entrance.   I recall rear store entrances like this from neighborhood shopping centers in Chicago of the same era, where there was a lot of parking to the rear. (also some views of the wide open parking lots to the back of the center)



Then, next to the bowling alley, is this little bank building.  The way the sidewalk works makes me think there might have been another building here, or provisions were made for one.






Some analyses:






And a quick peak at the front lawn of the soon-to-be-demolished Parkside Homes…to be replaced by a big-box-retail shopping center .  So one has the alpha and omega of retail;  the earliest auto-shopping center in Dayton,  replaced by state-of-the-art mass merchandising retail (I assume that when they tear down Parkside they will tear down McCook too).


.

 


Now for a small early-mid 1950s strip center, which might have an early indication of the ‘mall concept”



The Page Manor story really starts with the Wherry Military Housing Act of 1949, named after the  Nebraska senator who sponsored it.  The intention was to promote the construction of housing in areas that had a large military presence and an acute housing shortage.

Wherry Housing was built by private contractors and was privately owned, but leased to the military for family housing.  Wherry Housing developments could also include a mix of military and civilian housing.

Wherry Housing was also cheap and quick…the intent was to provide shelter, not do high-design.






Dayton had one large Wherry Housing development:  Page Manor. 

Page Manor was fairly large for Dayton, and may have been an early master-planned development given the way it was apparently zoned.

 There was single family housing for civilians and multifamily “project”-style  housing for the military.  The development also had provisions for schools (by the local school board) and a shopping center (by the developer)







Site planning was actually pretty good for Page Manor.  The military housing area faced busy Airway Road, but was buffered from it via a greenbelt or parkway.  The shopping center interrupted the greenbelt at the intersection of Spinning and Airway (with Spinning being an access to the civilian housing area, too.



Some views of the frontage road and greenbelt along Airway





The shopping center was pretty typical for a strip center of its time, but has been modified.  Similar to McCook, the complex also incorporated a movie theatre



As originally designed streets from the military housing area entered connected up with the shopping center.  This was pretty different from places like Town and Country, where there is no direct access from the surrounding neighborhood into the shopping center



Page Manor cinema.   A fairly clean and simple and un-modified example of mid-century modern. 



The shopping center has been heavily modified by the construction of this brick arcade



But what makes this shopping center interesting is this little mid-block “mall” area, with landscaping.   No real retail here, just a tavern and a doctors office. 





This might be the first local example of a “mall” feature in a shopping center.   It was later picked up in the much larger Hills and Dales shopping center of 1959, which was developed with shops on both sides of a central landscaped open space…..



…but had antecedents in shopping centers on the West Coast, which was the likely source for what we see in Dayton. 




(both from City Center to Regional Mall, by Richard Longstreth, MIT Press, 1997.

The outdoor mall concept would locally culminate in Dayton’s largest shopping center of that time, Forest Park Plaza, of 1960.



(and I wish I had some better pix of these two Dayton malls).

….followed by the first local indoor mall, Salem Mall, of 1966.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 05:38:13 PM by Jeffrey »

Online ink

  • Global Moderator
  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 6981
Very interesting! Hamilton was "blessed" with Hamilton Plaza in 1954, prompting city leaders to tear down an entire block of historic beauties for retail development (Elder Beerman).

McCook is at least somewhat interesting architecturally.

Offline PhillyEngineer

  • Metropolitan Tower 224'
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Great pics; they bring back a lot of memories. I think Elder-Beerman was in the center of McCook (I had a friend whose dad was the manager there back in the 70's). I remember when Forest Park Plaza had Top Value and JCPenney.

Online ColDayMan

  • ♫ An Apollo Legend ♫
  • Administrator
  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 20377
    • UrbanOhio
I used to love Page Manor theater...
"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

Offline Evergrey

  • Burj Khalifa 2,722'
  • *****
  • Posts: 1292
Another brilliant thread, Geoffrey.

Offline Vince_908

  • Kettering Tower 408'
  • **
  • Posts: 202
That is a very interesting thread. McCook is somewhat similar to Cedar Center outside Cleveland, which is split between two municipalities and now being redeveloped. The era of gradual transition from streetfront retail to the massive-scale auto-oriented retail of today is a time we should give more historical importance to.

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
^
Yes, I am very interested in the "edge of town" between, say, 1930 and 1950, when the old city dissolves and is replaced by suburbia...

For some neat before and after comparisons, here was the area during WWI and the early to mid 1920s.  McCook Field Army Air Corps research station.  It was closed in 1927, military stuff torn down, and the land apparently lay vacant until the housing project and shopping center were developed at the end of the Depression. 









...that little fragment of a neighborhood between Keowee and the interstate is still there somewhat, and is an interesting contrast of a 1920s bungalow/foursquare housing to the streamlined shopping center across the street.

The oxbow is long gone, replaced by trucking stuff and 1950s motels.  The rest of the McCook Field airfield area was developed as an industrial park...probably one of the first in Dayton..with sidewalks, street trees, and streamlined modern buildings somewhat similar to that bowling alley.






« Last Edit: May 01, 2007, 05:25:58 PM by Jeffrey »

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
Quote
Great pics; they bring back a lot of memories. I think Elder-Beerman was in the center of McCook (I had a friend whose dad was the manager there back in the 70's). I remember when Forest Park Plaza had Top Value and JCPenney.

Wow, you do go back if you remember Top Value stamps.  We had S&H Green Stamps up in Chicago.

I can Beerman being in that middle block as that would explain the back entrance.  As for Forest Park I am really interesed in that shopping center as it was so big.  Were there any department stores or variety stores there other than JC Penny?

Quote
Very interesting! Hamilton was "blessed" with Hamilton Plaza in 1954, prompting city leaders to tear down an entire block of historic beauties for retail development (Elder Beerman).

McCook is at least somewhat interesting architecturally.

...that book by Richard Longstreth I mentioned in the thread header is a great source for early shopping center design, mostly in the LA area (and was the inspiration for this thread).  Many of these early centers were interesting as they hadn't worked out the "formula" yet, so there are some "quirky" planning and architectural treatments from the early days (particularly the Crenshaw Center and Panorama City out in the 'Valley).   And you see this same thing going on at McCook.

As for that center you mentioned in Hamilton, is this that big one on the east side of Route 4, just south of town?  Sort of set against a hill?









Online ink

  • Global Moderator
  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 6981
^Yep, thats the one. It was 1956, actually. My mother moved to West Chester in her mid-teens and her family used to visit often until Tri-County and Northgate were built. In the 70's, the Dixie Electric Company was in the complex, one of those disco joints like you'd see in the movie Saturday Night Fever.

From the Journal-News, May 24, 2006:
 
Hamilton Plaza nearing 50th anniversary of opening
 By Jim Blount
 
A Hamilton property -- the first of its kind in the area -- will be 50 years old in October. Hamilton Plaza, still a strip mall, had its grand opening on the southeast edge of Hamilton the weekend of Oct. 4-6, 1956, advertised as the "greatest shopping event in Hamilton’s history." Promotions also stressed well-lighted free parking and "park once -- shop complete" convenience.
 
Fifteen of 19 store sites were operating at the grand opening. The first occupant, Grants Department Store, had welcomed customers April 26, 1956. Grants also had a new downtown store at 343 High Street.
 
Grants opening specials ranged from men’s sport shirts at $2.47; men’s and boys tennis shoes at $2.27; and 27x50-inch rayon rugs at $4.98; to 18-inch rotary lawnmowers, with adjustable blade, at $42.88.
 
Details of the shopping center were announced at the end of August 1954 with construction to begin without 60 days. The James R. Williams Investing Co. of Cincinnati said his firm was coordinating plans with the Ohio Highway Department which was designing the widening of Ohio 4 along the west side of the property. The site extended from the highway east to the Pennsylvania Railroad.
 
Williams acquired 24.94 acres in Fairfield Twp. from a trustee of the Lazard Kahn Co. (Estate Stove Co.) Sept. 2, 1954. It was part of 49.8 acres annexed to Hamilton May 20, 1956.
 
The original report said the center -- with store frontage of 1,045 feet along Erie Hwy. and Dixie Hwy. -- would cost between $2.5 million and $3 million. The 25-acre site, immediately south of the Hamilton corporation limit in 1954, was to have parking for 1,918 cars.
 
The development and leasing were handled by the Edward J. DeBartolo Co. of Youngstown.
 
Besides Grants, first occupants included Albers Super Market, Liberal Super Market, Omar Bakery, Tasty Bird Farms (poultry), Gray Drug Store, Moore’s Stores, Adeline Shops, Marimac Cleaners, Schiff’s Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, F. W. Woolworth, Plaza Cocktail, Economy Savings & Loan, and the First National Bank.
 
Stores were open Monday through Saturday. In 1956, Sunday shopping was still a few years away.
 
At opening, parking capacity was listed at 1,700 spaces, not the 1,918 announced two years earlier.
 
Liberal’s opening specials included full shank hams, 39 cents a pound; a three-pound package of frankfurters, 97 cents; pound and a quarter loaves of bread, 15 cents; and a pound bag of coffee, 23 cents. Albers offered sliced bacon, 49 cents a pound, and pork sausage, 33 cents a pound. Tasty Bird features included Turkeys at 39 cents a pound.
 
The shopping center concept, although new to Hamilton in 1956, had originated about 30 to 35 years earlier. There’s disagreement on which site qualifies as the first U. S. shopping center.
 
"The modern shopping center, which includes everything from small suburban strip centers to the million-square-foot super regional malls, had its genesis in the 1920s," says the web site of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).
 
"The concept of developing a shopping district away from a downtown is generally attributed to J. C. Nichols of Kansas City, Mo. His Country Club Plaza, which opened in 1922, was constructed as the business district for a large-scale residential development. It featured unified architecture, paved and lighted parking lots, and was managed and operated as a single unit."
 
"In the later half of the 1920s," the ICSC notes, "as automobiles began to clog the central business districts of large cities, small strip centers were built on the outskirts. The centers were usually anchored by a supermarket and a drug store, supplemented by other convenience-type shops. The typical design was a straight line of stores with space for parking in front. Grandview Ave. Shopping Center in Columbus, Ohio, which opened in 1928, included 30 shops and parking for 400 cars."
 
"But many experts consider Highland Park Shopping Village in Dallas, Tex., developed by Hugh Prather in 1931, to be the first planned shopping center," according to the ICSC.
 
Most centers built in the 1950s and 1960s were strip centers. The ICSC says there were 7,600 U. S. shopping centers by 1964, nearly doubling to 13,174 by 1972. Some became enclosed malls.
 

Since its 1956 opening, Hamilton Plaza has experienced several owner and management changes, most involving some physical improvements or face lifts, including a $250,000 expansion in 1962. One of the series of owners was the Great American Insurance Co. of Cincinnati.
 
In 1990, the plaza was described as including 32 businesses in the 203,000 square foot strip, plus outbuildings. It changed ownership that year in a $5 million transaction -- almost twice its original cost.

lanepl.org
« Last Edit: May 01, 2007, 06:17:03 PM by inkaelin »

Offline PhillyEngineer

  • Metropolitan Tower 224'
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Yes, I go way back. I was born in Dayton in 1966. Forest Park Plaza had a GC Murphy's or a Woolworth's (I can't remember which) as well as Top Value, JC Penney and a bunch of smaller stores. The Penney's was two stories and the lower level had an outside entrance that faced a smaller parking in the back of the center. The Penney's closed in 1981 when they opened a new store at Salem Mall.

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
^
very interesting!  Thanks.  A two story department store as an anchor is a fairly familiar arrangment.  I can think of some older centers in Louisville and even Chicago (Harlem & Irving) as examples of that approach.


Quote
The development and leasing were handled by the Edward J. DeBartolo Co. of Youngstown.

This would be an early DeBartolo development.  They eventually went into malls in a big way, Dayton Mall, Jefferson Mall (in Louisville), Fayette Mall (in Lexington)...all the largest in their markets at the time they opened.

Liberal Markets was a Dayton chain.  I think they were still around in a very reduced form as late as the 1980s or early 90s, as Schears.


 

Offline OHGeneral

  • Huntington Tower 330'
  • **
  • Posts: 180


Are you sure this is being torn down? It looks like it's being redeveloped...

Offline ForeverGlow

  • Kettering Tower 408'
  • **
  • Posts: 269
I love this thread! I'm amazed how well Page Manor is still doing, especially compared to McCook. It's in pretty good shape and doesn't seem like it's going to die off any time soon. The theatre is another story though...

How does Airway Shopping Center fit into the story?

Offline ForeverGlow

  • Kettering Tower 408'
  • **
  • Posts: 269
Where's Forest Park Plaza? Is it still around?

Online ColDayMan

  • ♫ An Apollo Legend ♫
  • Administrator
  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 20377
    • UrbanOhio
The Forest Park Plaza I'M familiar with is on Main Street, just south of Shoup Mill/Needmore/Wright Bros Parkway/Turner/Woodman/Harshman.
"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
Here is Forest Park today.  I think this is the same shopping center, but boy did it go through some changes.  It looks like it lost its mall part, except for that funky courtyard thing in the middle.





Driving up there, that stretch of Main between say, Hillcrest and this shopping center is worth a closer look as a pix thread to track the evolution of retail from 1920s into the shopping center era

Offline mrnyc

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 12870
great thread. i love those old proto-mall plaza malls.

my spouse says her family used to grocery shop at liberal market at forest park plaza.

Online ColDayMan

  • ♫ An Apollo Legend ♫
  • Administrator
  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 20377
    • UrbanOhio
Forest Park used to have Tiffany's Nightclub (ghetto, ghetto, ghetto).  I see it left.
"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

Offline DayOh47

  • Dirt Lot 0'
  • *
  • Posts: 34
Very interesting thread.
I remember my folks shopping at the McCook center in the early 50's. We lived in the McGuffy homes project on Webster St at the time. My parents bowled at the McCook lanes, and I remember seeing a feature length Lone Ranger movie at the theater.

As many of you may know, Forest Park was named for the amusement park it replaced. I have just a vague memory of going to the amusement park once.

Shopped at Miracle Lane when we lived in Trotwood in '55-'56. 

Although I grew up mostly in East Dayton, we seldom shopped at Page Manor. Seems we went to East Town out Linden Av. Did see the movie Easy Rider at Page Manor back in the day.









 

Offline TheDonald

  • Great American Tower 665'
  • ***
  • Posts: 571
What a great thread. A few belated footnotes:

My mom grew up in Dayton in the 1930s. She referred often to "Frankie's Forest Park", the name of the amusement park that was located at Forest Park Plaza. I was born in 1958 so I had no clue.

My main memory of Forest Park is "The She" nightclub, which predated Dixie Electric Company on Woodman drive by a few years. Another sleazy youth oriented disco pandering to the 3.2 beer crowd.  :evil:

Tie-in: a friend's sister is married to one of the founders of Cables-to-go (networking & computer cable vendor), which I was told had a production facility located in the same space as the former "She" back in the 80s. One of the brothers in that family worked there as an assembler and he said that they used the counter space of the She's bar for production.

And going to college in Dayton in the 70s, the name "McCook" meant only one thing: porn, and going with a bunch of other drunk guys after the bars closed to the "arcade" there at the McCook just to piss off the bouncer and the clerk and not buy anything.  :roll:

Apparently Forest Park closed as an amusement park in 1959:

http://www.soaphs.com/content.html
« Last Edit: May 11, 2007, 12:32:41 AM by TheDonald »

Offline interested

  • Excavation Site
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2007, 02:20:01 PM »
This information is great.  The memories flood back.  Thanks to everyone!  When the Salem Mall first opened, it was one story and had a Liberal Grocery store as an anchor store before going through renovations in the late 70's/early 80's to the 2 story more modern (ha before being demolished).  Miracle Lane Shopping Center, didn't that have Bettman's Pharmacy?  The Golden-Triangle of Dayton was also a great place at one time.  Up on Salem, there was the Goody-Goody..the Keyhole...Kon-Tiki Theater...a Frisches with car hops (also in Trotwood)...now long gone.  El Greco's at the old A&P closed in December 2006, but I just found out yesterday it has been reopened with new owners who say it is all the same (I will have to make it a point to see for myself) (being from there I am still not afraid to park out front, although I cant get many people to agree to go with me!).  I remember the She Lounge, The Ivy on Main and Siebenthaller, Sheerer's IceCream (is it still there???)...I know the Barnsider is still trying, thanks Mary!  But most of that area...Salem Ave and Main Street from the River on North is nothing but TRASH now.  Too bad.  So much history!

Offline PhillyEngineer

  • Metropolitan Tower 224'
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2007, 06:44:22 PM »
I remember all of those places as well! I remember when the space next to the old A&P was called Shopkeeper's Village.

Offline Jeffrey

  • Jeddah Tower 3,281'
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
Re: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2007, 07:31:07 PM »
If you want to see a photo-essay on suburban Salem Avenue and vicinity click here


Offline PhillyEngineer

  • Metropolitan Tower 224'
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2007, 07:59:38 PM »
Yes, I saw those when they were first posted. Soooooo depressing. I remember all those places as well. My doctor was in the bulding in the third photo (it's across Philadelphia from Good Sam Hospital).

Offline ForeverGlow

  • Kettering Tower 408'
  • **
  • Posts: 269
Re: Dayton's oldest surviving shopping center--McCook (+ one or two others)
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2007, 10:45:15 AM »
If you want to see a photo-essay on suburban Salem Avenue and vicinity click here

Dang, that was awesome in a disgusting way too.