5 things we miss that once dominated Dayton’s downtown skyline


Recent news about a giant clock, once the crown of downtown Dayton’s Callahan Building, called to mind significant Dayton structures that once dominated the skyline.

Here’s a look at 5 of those former Gem City monuments: 

The Callahan Building

The Callahan Building, sometimes referred to as Dayton’s first skyscraper, was located at the northeast corner of Third and Main streets. The original building, with a sharply peaked roof line, was completed in 1892. 

The prominent downtown office building was built by William P. Callahan, an Irish immigrant who became a prominent banker and manufacturer in the Gem City. 

As a young man, Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar worked as an elevator operator in the building crafting poetry from observations he made about the riders he took from the ground floor to the clock tower. 

The building was razed in 1978 to make way for a modern building, today called the PNC building, designed by famed architect I.M. Pei. 

» RELATED: This cherished piece of Dayton history was part of downtown’s skyline for more than a century

Steele High School

Steele High School, reminiscent of a castle as it loomed over Main and Monument streets, was built in 1894 and served as Dayton’s earliest high school. 

The Romanesque style structure was named after Robert Steele, a Dayton educator. 

The structure was razed in 1955 to make room for a Rike’s parking garage. Today the CareSource building stands in place of the high school. 

» RELATED: Historic photo: Riverbank transforms from historic school

Union Station

A seven-story clock tower rose over the skyline at Sixth and Ludlow streets marking Union Station. 

Described as a “handsome palace” when it was dedicated in 1900, as many as 66 passenger trains served Dayton on a daily basis for the first 30 years, according to the Dayton Railway Historical Society website. 

Fewer people across the country rode the rails in the 1960s, which was the starting point for the downsizing of the station. Over the next two decades, Union Station was demolished bit by bit. The last passenger train left the station in 1979. 

» RELATED: Amazing photos: Have you seen how beautiful Dayton’s Union Station was?

The “New” Courthouse

Two court houses, standing side by side, encompassed a block of downtown Dayton for many years. 

Today the Old Courthouse still stands at Main and Third streets but a larger courthouse, completed in 1884, used to take up the space next to it. 

Abandoned by Common Pleas Court in 1966, it was demolished in 1972. 

Today the location of the former building is Courthouse Square, a popular downtown spot for live entertainment, food trucks and community gatherings 

» RELATED: Then & Now: When Courthouse Square was actually a large courthouse

Dayton Library

A permanent location for Dayton’s library, purchased by Daniel Cooper in 1808, was selected for the city. 

A Gothic-style building was constructed made out of Dayton limestone with Marquette red sandstone trimmings, and was “rated as the largest and best building in the state of Ohio devoted exclusively to library purposes,” when it opened in 1888, according to the Dayton Metro Library narrative. 

That first library at Cooper Park gave way to a new contemporary building when ground was broken in 1960 for expansion and modernization. 

This year, the new Main Library, with four times the public space of the old building, opened again in Cooper Park.

» RELATED: How the Dayton Metro Library grew from ‘two well-filled bookcases’ to a gigantic main branch


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