The Danis company marks 100 years of constructing Dayton area landmarks.

History Extra: A century of Dayton landmarks

Company foundation is family

For the past 100 years the Danis company has constructed the landmarks that comprise the Dayton region.

The Engineers Club, the Dayton-Wright Airplane factory and the University of Dayton Arena are a few of the buildings that make up the architectural foundation of the community built by the company.


“B.G. Danis, my grandfather, laid the foundation for a company that would help to shape the skyline of Dayton and beyond,” said John Danis, chairman and CEO and part of the third generation overseeing the family company, in a release marking the anniversary.


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B.G. Danis Sr., the son of a blacksmith, founded the company in 1916 with partner Robert Hunt after moving to Dayton from Pittsfield, Mass. One of the first projects the company completed was building a 10-million-gallon water reservoir for the City of Dayton. A century-old photograph depicts steam-powered machinery and work horses moving the earth.

Two years after the company was founded, a fire started in the ushers’ room of the Victoria Theatre destroying the theater portion of the downtown Dayton building for a second time on Jan. 16, 1918.

Danis took on the task of rebuilding the structure and on Nov. 25, 1919, the grand opening of the renamed Victory Theatre was held in honor of those who fought in the first world war. The Danis re-build of the stage and auditorium has remained virtually the same for almost 100 years.

Danis began construction on the Convent of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in the early 1920s. The imported German stained glass windows in the chapel were described as “one of the most elaborate in the city” in a Dayton Daily News story leading up to the start of building.

The convent, now known as Maria Joseph Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on Salem Ave., cost $850,000 to build in 1923. It would cost $11,797,404 to construct it today, according to the company.

Dayton’s first radio tower was built by Danis in the 1930s. The company broke ground for the new transmitter house and tower in 1934. On Feb. 9, 1935 WHIO radio, the first radio station in the Miami Valley, transmitted 1,000 watts of power across the airwaves.

The founders’ two sons, Charles and B.G. Jr., joined the company after serving in World War II and the second generation diversified the company adding construction of roads and highways to its portfolio.

As a child, John Danis recalls the significance of his grandfather’s company breaking ground on the Winters Bank Tower (now the Kettering Tower) in 1969. At 405-feet the building looms over the city skyline.

“In the day of the skyscraper that meant the most important building in town, at least to an 8-year-old,” said Danis. The thirty-story building complex, at the hub of the city’s business district, is 500,000 square feet, about 12 acres of space.

In more recent years the company has continued to construct places and buildings significant to the region. RiverScape, the Schuster Performing Arts Center (in a joint venture with Messer) and currently under construction is an 8-story, 285,000-square-foot patient tower for Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Though B.G. Danis Sr. died when his grandson was a child, John Danis said he thinks his grandfather would be proud of today’s accomplishments. “I think he would get satisfaction out of seeing something he started carried on by the family,” he said.

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