I use Sanborn maps, old photos, a 1956 downtown map, and city directories to explore the growth and decline of a downtown block. The one bounded by Third, St Clair, Second, and Jefferson.
The earliest good map is from the 1880s, and shows a mix of things, churches, houses, and stores of various kinds. The thumbnail map shows the original town lots in red. The original Dayton plat had huge lots, only 8 per block, which were subdivided and resubdivided.
The Lutzenberger collection has this great before and after set of NE corner of Third and Jefferson. I guess Lutzenberger was shooting Dayton long enough to be able to do rephotography.
Once can see the evolution of commercial architecture in that set, from the small brick buildings of the canal or pre-canal era, then the rows of commercial buildings, then jumps in scale…
Example of the scaling up of commercial is the south side of the block, on 3rd Street. The big 4 story commercial block (the Huffman Block) is probably from the 1870s. All this burned in 1913 and was rebuilt.
By 1918 one sees the post fire reconstruction on Third, an early filling station on St Clair and Third, and larger scale buildings, like the Simms Building on Jefferson. A very late livery stable is visible on St Clair just south of the alley (Artz Lane), and the little church on the St Clair just north of 3rd side was replaced with a different one (brick neo-gothic, perhaps Akron plan).
Areil view from the early 1920s. Note the four old houses on 2nd Street. They were rooming houses in he 1920s.
Interesting as examples of early vernacular architecture. Hard to really date these, but a guess is that they date to the Civil War era or earlier, as they do show up on an 1869 map.
And also how some are not
like the houses one sees in the Oregon, as they have that tripartite façade and entrance directly from the front. No “L” or side entrance. Though the shallow roof slope and the gable treatment on the far right one resembles older houses in the Oregon.
These houses resemble most a heavily altered house on 1st next to the Episcopal Church. Perhaps the wide lots of downtown allowed wider houses?
They were torn down in 1928/29 to make way for a parking lot, one of the early ones in Dayton (originally associated with an auto dealership, I thing). Yet there are still some things back next to the alley.
(one can also see the construction from the 1920s, with the large Rubicon Building on Jefferson, and some other lower 1920s business blocks replacing 19th century things, like that livery stable).
By 1956 not much change, except the parking lot has expanded to clear out the outbuildings along the alley. Note the big warehouse and storage buildings south of the alley. I think they were built after the 1913 flood/fire, too.
By 2000 the block has mostly been cleared of structures, with only the largest buildings still standing (with some exceptions).
Next a series of black plans in five year intervals showing how ground becomes figure, how buildings stop defining space and instead become objects floating in
space (though that statement breaks down a bit for the 3rd Street side)
(closing with speculation on the next removal)
Next, some rephotography:
(I’m guessing 1850s for that corner building)
(the little house next to the billboards dates to 1829 and was a station on the Underground Railroad)
(too bad about that corner building. The material was red sandstone, and the building housed Dayton’s first head shop c. 1970)
Finally, sometimes a parking lot is just a parking lot…