The Montgomery County Democratic Party headquarters building, which has been a fixture in downtown Dayton since 1949, is being sold to the Sinclair Foundation and may eventually be razed to make way for more campus parking.
The party will establish its headquarters in another downtown building, said Mark Owens, the party chairman.
The property is being sold for $233,000. Closing on the sale of the two-story building at 131 S. Wilkinson Street is scheduled for June 30.
“I think it’s hard for (county parties) to keep a building in this day and age when it costs so much to run campaigns,” said Debra Owens, who is Mark Owens’ wife and has researched the building’s history. “There is just no money left over to maintain a building.”
The party will move its headquarters to leased space in the IUE/CWA Service Center at 313 S. Jefferson St.
“It’s still downtown. There’s more parking and it is also more secure,” Mark Owens said of the new location.
Madeline J. Iseli, Sinclair Community College vice president for advancement, said the purchase is being done through the foundation rather than directly by the college.
“This parcel of land is important to Sinclair’s short- and long-range planning and fits with the overall physical master plan of the college,” Iseli said in an email. “As construction moves forward with (construction of) the Health Sciences Center, people and resources will be shifted, thus creating an increasing need for flexible swing space. In the longer term, the space is immediately adjacent to campus and will provide much needed space that could be used for parking, which is consistently identified by students as one of their greatest areas of need.”
Iseli said the purchase is in keeping with the foundation’s mission to support Sinclair.
“In fact, the land that Sinclair’s UAS Flying Pavilion sits on was bought by the Sinclair Foundation, as were other small parcels immediately adjacent to the college,” Iseli said. “Both Sinclair and the Sinclair Foundation are committed to helping redevelop downtown Dayton. “
The party headquarters building has become increasingly dilapidated over the years and the lack of parking has been a constant problem. But it still holds fond memories for many Democrats.
“A lot of politicians have come to headquarters to have rallies, stops on their bus tours,” Debra Owens said. Among them: former Ohio Governors Dick Celeste and Ted Strickland, 1990 gubernatorial candidate Anthony Celebrezze Jr., U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn.
“It’s been a nice resource for our party over the years,” Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said.
Keith said his favorite memories are of fish fries the party would hold back when the late Joe Shump was chairman. The lines would snake for city blocks. “I always remember going home and smelling like fish when it was over,” Keith said.
When Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his first term in 1993, big screen TVs were brought in.
“It was just like we were in Washington, D.C., attending the inaugural,” Keith recalled. “I remember when they sang the national anthem we all stood up. It was just like we were there except we were warm.”