What did people do downtown in early 20th-century Dayton?

Historic photograph captures everyday moments of life


Highlights

The American Building was designed by Frank M. Andrews, the same architect that designed the Dayton Arcade.

The structure was first named the Conover Building when it was constructed in 1900.

A photograph of the historic American Building has frozen a Dayton scene from the early 1920s in time.

William Lutzenberger, a Dayton photographer who documented area landmarks and street scenes, captured this bustling image of the intersection of Main and Third Streets from a vantage point on the front steps of the Old Courthouse.

» PHOTOS: Scenes within a scene, the American Building

Centered within his view finder was the 13-story structure, constructed of steel and concrete, first named the Conover Building when built in 1900.

With the click of his shutter, Lutzenberger captured a downtown scene filled with fascinating detail.

If you let your eye wander up the length of the left side of the building, you notice how much lighter it is compared to the rest. An identical third bay was added in 1921, so skillfully done that today the façade blends together seamlessly.

At the top of the elaborately decorated Renaissance Revival building, you will see crowned kings flanked by foliated rosettes.

The architect who designed this building, Frank M. Andrews, later designed the Dayton Arcade. Andrews worked on plans for the Arcade under an art glass dome in his architect’s studio on the 13th floor of the building.

Back at street level, cars are frozen in time while parked along Main Street in front of signs peddling “United Cigars,” “union made hats,” “Zonars Confectionary” and the “Metropolitan,” a downtown clothing store.

Glance to the right, and the marquee on the Apollo Theater advertises “With Stanley in Africa,” a 1922 film about a female reporter who helps a newspaperman search for the famous Dr. Livingstone in Africa.

Move to the foreground of the photograph.

A woman standing on the sidewalk in front of the Old Courthouse gazes at the photographer. Behind her, a loaded truck and two automobiles blur by as they speed through the intersection.

My favorite detail within this photograph is of three boys huddled together behind a pillar in front of the Old Courthouse, all three outfitted in knickers and caps.

The boy at the right looks directly at the photographer as the two others seem unaware. It’s hard to say what this trio of pals might be up to.

To the right of them is a vendor parked along the sidewalk, the head and shoulders of two men can just be seen above the wall standing next to the cart.

Glance above their heads to the lettered sign positioned in the intersection. Arrows point in the direction of Indianapolis, Dixie Highway and Cincinnati.

Today you can stand in the exact spot and take in the same view the photographer did almost 100 years ago.

Automobile and clothing styles have certainly changed during the past century, but many of the landmarks that make up this photograph remain the same.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

‘Cat Grandpa’ snuggles with felines at pet shelter
‘Cat Grandpa’ snuggles with felines at pet shelter

A 75-year-old Wisconsin man is giving new meaning to catnaps. >> Read more trending news  Terry Lauerman, of De Pere, has been volunteering at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Green Bay for the last six months, and photographs of him fast asleep while several of the shelter’s cats snuggle up to him on couches have gone viral, the Green...
WPAFB Friday Weather: Afternoon storms to end the work-week
WPAFB Friday Weather: Afternoon storms to end the work-week

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE— Sunshine will start the day with increasing clouds in the afternoon. It will remain warm and muggy. Scattered showers and storms will develop late in the afternoon and into the evening. A few storms could become severe with damaging wind gusts possible. Highs will be in the middle 80s before the storms move...
Sweet story: Iowa man, 94, passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to residents 
Sweet story: Iowa man, 94, passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to residents 

A 94-year-old Iowa native has been sweet to residents in his small town for more than 15 years. Bob Williams is known as the “Candy Bar Man” in Long Grove, and his kindness has been a sweet story to many residents. >> Read more trending news  Williams, who taught psychology in nearby Davenport for 39 years, stocks his refrigerator...
Endangered Missing Adult Alert canceled for north central Ohio man, 75
Endangered Missing Adult Alert canceled for north central Ohio man, 75

UPDATE @ 12:25 a.m. (Sept. 21): The alert has been canceled, according to authorities. The alert was issued just before 11 p.m. Thursday. An Endangered Missing Adult Alert has been issued for a 75-year-old Washington Courthouse man who was last seen leaving his home Thursday afternoon.  John Doughty left his residence on Lotz Drive about 3 p.m...
Father in custody, accused of shooting his son, Dayton police say
Father in custody, accused of shooting his son, Dayton police say

A father is in custody, accused in the shooting of his son tonight in the 900 block of Gard Avenue in Dayton.  The son, 39, has been taken to Miami Valley Hospital suffering from life-threatening injuries, according to Montgomery County Regional Dispatch.  Dayton homicide detectives are on scene. The shooting was called in about 10 p.m.,...
More Stories