The making of Dayton landmarks: Historic photos show famous places in progress

Notable institutions in concrete, steel and sandstone

Dayton’s familiar landmarks might be difficult to recognize when viewed as shells of concrete and steel.

Photographs of the construction of these historic buildings offer an intriguing look at the early craftsmanship and fabrication of our institutions.

More than a dozen workmen stand along the top of the Old Courthouse, the centerpiece of downtown Dayton, in a photograph taken before its completion in 1850. The building was called "the finest thing of its kind" by Ralph Adams Cram, a noted East Coast architect in the early 1900s.

In the photo, the front pediment has yet to be constructed, and the six columns that frame the Greek Revival style building stand free. Pieces of stone, quarried in Dayton and Centerville, lie in piles around the base.

The top portion of the Liberty Tower's steel skeleton is exposed in a photograph taken in 1931. At 284 feet tall, the building, known as the Mutual Home Building when it was built, was the tallest building in Dayton until 1969.

The Art-Deco skyscraper was designed by architects Schenk & Williams, whose projects included Hawthorn Hill and the Engineers Club of Dayton. The 23-story building has two basement floors and an elevator penthouse.

The Dayton Art Institute is constructed out of massive blocks of sandstone, shown in a 1928 photograph. The building was modeled after the Villa d'Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy.

The 60,000-square-foot building, a gift to the city from community leader Julia Shaw Carnell, was dedicated to great fanfare Jan. 7, 1930.

Roosevelt High School looks like an erector set in a photograph taken during construction in 1923. When it opened in 1927 on West Third Street. Roosevelt was one of the largest high schools east of the Mississippi. Later, it became the first racially integrated school in Dayton.

Used as a community center and school administration building from 1975 to 2004, the beloved high school was demolished in 2008. Today the Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy and Roosevelt Commons are located on the site.

The Dayton skyline was transformed in 1969 when construction began on the city's tallest building, the Kettering Tower. The steel framework, looming skyward, dwarfed the structures around it.

Builders poured more than 3,400 cubic yards of concrete to form the foundation and bolted together 4,000 tons of steel as the building shaped up to stand 405 feet tall over the city.

A crescent-shaped structure photographed in 1970 was the framework for the United States Air Force Museum, now called the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Historic aircraft, which would make their home in the building, were paraded along area roadways to the new $6 million museum. President Richard M. Nixon flew in on his presidential jet, the Spirit of ’76, to dedicate the museum on Sept. 3, 1971.

When the ground was broken in the late 1960s for the Grant-Deneau Tower, Dayton's first modern skyscraper, it was intended to re-imagine downtown office space.

The sleek new building garnered high interest from the public. Newspaper photographs documented construction progress over a two-year period. One headline read “How High the Moon? Climb Officer Tower” when construction reached the 13th floor.

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