The Dayton State Hospital opened in 1855, closed in 1978, and was added to the National Historic Register in 1979, just before it was slated to be demolished.
Columbus developer Barry Humphries bought the site and turned it into 10 Wilmington Place, a premier senior housing facility in Dayton. One of its first residents was Humphries’ wife’s mother, who lived there many years.
Humphries was in town recently for the opening of its 22-unit Josephine Memory Care Center, dedicated to his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for 12 years prior to her death.
Q. Why did the building and grounds appeal to you?
A. Its parklike setting and building were beautiful. My first impressions of the building were mixed — lots of potential but the building and site were in terrible shape.
Q. What repairs and renovations were necessary?
A. The building had open gaps in the roof, water dripping through every floor, and horse-hair plaster up to your knees on the floors.
We started construction at the end of 1984, and had a fire that destroyed the top floor of the East Wing the second month of construction.
Rehabilitation is always difficult, but 10 Wilmington Place, due to its size and age, was especially difficult. The five-story central building was totally gutted with only the outer walls standing. We replaced 1500 windows that were large and unique. Although I was the private developer, it would never have been possible without the support of the Dayton community.
Q. How did the community support the project?
A. The City of Dayton gave the project 10 years of tax abatement, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce contributed $75,000 in early feasibility studies, and the AFL-CIO lowered its union hourly wages so the project could be build with union labor. It was truly a project supported by the total community. The total project cost in 1986 was $19,800,000.
Q. Was there a stigma about the site having been the state hospital?
A. We knew we had to get people in to see how extensive our renovations were. We were able to get 20,000 people through on various tours the first year, and as the word spread of how nice 10 Wilmington was, the leasing increased to a normal lease-up pattern for senior housing.
Q. How many residents live there now?
A. 10 Wilmington Place has 231 apartments (22 memory care, 58 assisted living and 151 independent living). With double occupancy for couples, we have about 250 residents in all of our apartments.
Q. How does 10 Wilmington Place differ from other senior housing facilities?
A. As the original developer and owner, my involvement and my family’s involvement has been a constant over the past 32 years. We want a community that feels like family and celebrates the individual in each of us, and to remain relatively small, where the resident gets to know all the fellow residents and the staff knows the residents. We want a beautiful, well maintained property with great customer service for our residents.