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Old June 6th, 2007, 01:18 AM   #1
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Saint Anne's Hill

Dayton doesn’t get enough recognition as an old city with some very old neighborhoods. And when I say old I mean Civil War era and before.

Sure, nearly all Midwestern cities are that old chronologically, but the housing stock and urban fabric are newer, with just a few isolated survivals, due to ongoing reconstruction and building replacement and so forth, and the impact of urban renewal and freeway construction.

Dayton suffered that too, and much has been lost. But a few of the mid 19th century neighborhoods survive, with substantial amounts of housing stock dating back to 1830s-1860s. These neighborhoods are urban relics and deserve recognition as part of the Midwest’s architectural patrimony.

The two best examples of this are the Oregon and Saint Anne’s Hill. Lesser examples (as only fragments survive) are South Park and the Xenia Avenue neighborhood. The Oregon is probably familiar to you all already. Saint Anne’s Hill and the others probably not.

This thread will introduce Saint Anne’s Hill.

A location map, and aerial showing the two neighborhoods separated by a “ghost neighborhood”, the Haymarket, that was destroyed by urban renewal and highway construction.. Fifth Street is the main drag out of downtown (to your left) into this part of Dayton….The Haymarket was a real loss as it was very old and actually quite dense

The Haymarket was a real loss as it was very old, dating from the 1830s and 40s at the oldest, and also quite dense, and possibly picturesque given the quirky angles of the streets.….here’s sort of a figure ground map of the Haymarket in the 1930s…

…with the former hay market being the wide street on the lower right…

St Anne’s Hill as an official National Register historic district is rather small, but the actual historic neighborhood extends further east Here is a map showing some of the things you will be seeing in this thread.

St Anne’s Hill from a 1850s view of the city, visible in the distance atop the hill (which marks the edge of the flood plain, above this there is a bench, then the land rises in hills again)

And a map from 1869 showing platting activity and construction…


…with the streets removed. As one can see this was already somewhat developed area….it was first platted staring in the mid 1840s through the 1850s, and the above views show the place already with a lot of housing in the 1850s. The land right on the hill was in larger lots and small estates, which where subdivided later in the 19th century for some impressive high-Victorian houses.

The Steamboat House. Right on the hill, this house has “steamboat” style balconies with a view over the city, and is one of two surviving original houses right on the hill part of St Anne’s Hill (dating from the 1840s or early 1850s).. It is one of Dayton’s landmark houses, and is being re-restored.

A beloved local landmark….from Craig McIntosh’s Dayton Sketchbook…

Across the street a much “newer” (as in late 19th century) house with a fantastic series of balconies and porches…

The better to take in the view of the city skyline over the urban renewal area (and a sidewalk left from a ghost street)

But that is newer St Anne’s Hill…lets stick to older for now….

Some street scenes deeper in the neighborhood….

Iron fences and houses built close to the sidewalk…

A “Dayton Double”

Side street and alley-house development. This neighborhood built-out during the “walking city” era before horse cars, so this closer in area developed denser, via narrow lots and housing on subsidiary streets…

This neighborhood is a good example of a local Dayton vernacular…the adaptation of the rural “I House” to urban lots….

…and also some workers cottages, too. These are probably the oldest houses in the neighborhood, predating the Civil War.

The two above houseforms..the urban I-house and the cottage, represent the two local vernaculars, the common houses of Dayton, before the arrival of the national styles of the four-square and bungalow. These and the ones in the Oregon are some of the earliest surviving examples in the city.

Yet, from the oldest to the newest, the Suburban House. This is on a street of very old houses, yet a bit of front lawn here. One would think this is were the neighborhood Republican lives, but the owners have some left/liberal political signs out on the fence.

Some commercial buildings…a corner store set on the side streets….

And one from the 1870s, with the 1900s Odd Fellows Hall behind…a great little urban tableau. Built as a saloon it was for many many years a drugstore/soda fountain, then an appliance store, before becoming the Baroque Violin Shop, where they make and repair violins…

The old stone church. This has been converted into a house, with some huge rooms, no doubt, and is up for sale!

Though this is Saint Anne’s Hill there is no Saint Anne’s church…in fact the origin of the name is murky, with conflicting stories as to the origin. The landmark church that is still a church, is Saint Luke’s, which used to be German but is now affiliated with the UCC

Aspects of Saint Luke’s

..which is on McLain Street, a collection of late 19th century houses built more for the bourgeois, vs. the working class housing we saw earlier….

The high rises of the old Haymarket urban renewal era terminate the view down McLain…that area is now called “Dayton Towers”

And, nearby, next to the steamboat house, is Dayton’s only mosque (as far as I know). The neighborhood is not Arab or Islamic, and the mosque will be locating to the suburbs, as that’s where the Moslems here live.

The neighborhood used to be mostly German, originally. A surviving institution is the Liederkranz-Turner, which was a merger of an athletic club with a signing society. They don’t do athletics any more but do have very nice German language choral concerts. The building is actually an old commercial building wrapped in faux half-timbering.

Kitty-corner across the street is Stivers High School, which is Dayton’s Performing and Visual Arts magnet school

On the same block as Liedkranz, but further into the neighborhood, is this 1860s era house, which is now the gallery for the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.

..with a great view of the Dayton skyline from across the street

Two views down Fifth Street. This was once more commercial, but the businesses have shut down or been torn down, thus the street, today, is quiet.

Yet build-out can getty pretty dense on occasion...

One of the great streets of St Anne’s Hill for bourgeois 19th century architecture is Dutoit Street (pronounced ‘Doo-twah’, not ‘Doo-toyt’), named after the rich farmer that owned much of the land north of 5th. His house still stands, from the 1830s, but heavily modified….

And there are the twin houses, done up in a sort of carpenter gothic-meets-Italianate style….

(and “gothic’ is the tale as the owner committed suicide)

Lesser houses on Dutoit Street….

[img] src="[/img]

…and, around the corner, the old German Baptist church, a giant brick box from the early 1870s..

Dutoit culminates in one of the great heirloom houses of Dayton, the magnificent Blosser Mansion:

Why does Dutoit have such a nice collection of houses? Because it is on the hill of Saint Anne’s Hill, with the houses commanding an excellent view of the city (though the foreground is a bit messy here)


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Last edited by Jeff_of_Dayton; June 6th, 2007 at 01:39 AM.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 07:19 PM   #2
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Thank you for this! I know very little about Dayton, even though it is Indy's closest "big neighbor." It suffers from being the "little guy on the block" thanks to the other bigger cities, but is anything but "little."
"Indianapolis has the reputation of a shark striking when other cities sleep."
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Old June 6th, 2007, 08:55 PM   #3
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Thanks, neat photos. With the exception of a handful of the photos, you could say these were homes on Delaware or Alabama Steets on Indy's Old Northside.
"You get yourself a job before sundown, or we're shipping you off to military school with that goddam Finklestein shit kid! Son of a bitch!" Up in Smoke (1978)
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Old June 6th, 2007, 10:17 PM   #4
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Great photos. The neighborhood looks pretty nice, although the rain makes it a little dreary.

I'm looking forward to more neighborhood tours of Dayton.
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Old May 30th, 2015, 08:07 AM   #5
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Thank you for the inspiring pics. I was in this area recently doing genealogical research. I'm pretty sure my great-great grandfather's house on Samuel is long gone.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 06:55 AM   #6
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Glad someone bumped up this old thread, because I had missed some really nice pics in the meantime!
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