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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Shawen Acres Now

So if you read the previous post about the history of Shawen Acres and the Montgomery County Children's Home you would realize that the facility stopped being a home for orphans in the 1970s after it was determined that children were better off in foster care with individual families. The large administration building remained in use until 2001 when the modern Haines Children's Center building was opened. The original buildings have sat vacant and unused for 11 years. During that time the roofs of many buildings developed leaks or were accessed by racoons, birds and squirrels. Some of the basements flooded and the humidity inside the structure has caused paint to peel and floor boards and joists to buckle and warp. Vagrants have accessed the buildings for shelter and thieves have removed air conditioning units and copper plumbing. The porches have become popular locations for prostitutes to perform the horizontal hoochee and the 19 acre grounds are too large for the county sheriff to police. The county has submitted a proposal for demolition and a re-use plan that includes expanding the green space on the property and preserving the original nursery building which was restored and is currently used. The neighborhoods support the plan but the Landmark Commission voted 4 - 3 to preserve the structures. The county intends to bring the case before the city commission on May 30, 2012 because we have the ability to overturn the Landmark Commission recommendation. When I heard this I asked to see the interiors of the buildings. Some would say that I know a thing or two about renovation work. You are about to view a series of pictures. They are not labeled as to which building is which but I can tell you that all the buildings except one which was preserved several years ago are in similar condition. The structures are ALL concrete block institutional type buildings with no insulation and iron joist beam support for the second story in each structure. Many of the interior rooms are very small with concrete interior walls. There are no outstanding architectural details inside any of the buildings. The arts and crafts fire places are very plain. The only attractive feature about the buildings is how they appear from the outside. The tile roof, fancy chimneys and stucco English cottage style are the only good thing about the buildings. The buildings have deteriorated because the county uses money allocated for children's service to attend the needs of children and not to maintain and heat empty buildings. These buildings are not really relocatable due to the masonry construction and if they were renovated on site they would have to be used to serve "helpless and unfortunate children" due to a deed restriction.
The front of the administration building will be salvaged and reused on the grounds.
This is the back of the administration building. The attached gym was demolished in 2004.
A vulture flew out of this hole in the roof while I was there. Maybe it was feasting on something inside!
This is just one of many large piles of raccoon poop present in one of the buildings.
This ridge under the carpet is due to a warped floor joist that has risen some six inches.
This is looking up through the ceiling to the light shining through a hole in the roof.
The renovated former nursery looks like this.
Now that you have read all this and seen the pictures you would likely agree that the only future for these structures is to demolish them. However, if you have the funds and a reuse plan for the buildings that serves the purpose as listed in the deed restriction then you can call the Assistant County Administrator, Amy Weideman at 937-225-5802 to discuss your ideas. If they are feasible then the county may throw in funds that are saved from the demolition budget which is almost $350,000 for the entire project. I would do it before summer though because these will start to come down in the fall of this year assuming we overturn the decision of the Landmark Commission that is.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shawen Acres AKA Montgomery County Children's Home - Then

According to Wikipedia

Shawen Acres, also known as the Montgomery County Children's Home, is an historic complex at 3304 N. Main St. in Dayton, Ohio. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1991.
It was originally designed as an orphan’s home. Dr. Charles Shawen donated 19 acres (77,000 m2) to the county March 21, 1926 for "wayward and homeless children." The complex comprises a main building, annex, gym, and 10 English-style cottages in a park-like setting.

Here is the Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1932
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This is how the grounds looked in 1955. Not certain what the extra buildings were but one may have been a boiler room to heat all the buildings.
This was the nursery building back in the day. This is the only building that has been renovated and is still in use today. You can read about the place in it's current condition in the next post.
Here is a photo of a photograph that hangs on the wall in the renovated nursery building showing the place soon after inception.
This stone lies near the same building.
There is a sad tale to tell about this facility now and you can read about it in the next post.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Black is Black

I am finally starting to get the molding up in the dining room. This room has no molding at all. It is hard to believe that at one time the room looked like this.



Then it started to get put together again.



The windows have looked like this for a long time without any molding and without curtains.



Since I have been on a curtain binge lately, I figured that it was time to get the curtains up in this room. They have been packed away for three years. I had to do a little restoration work on the window sills since they had been destroyed back in the 1950s when this house became apartments. So I found some old 2 X 4s in my basement and repaired the sills using some really long screws and Bondo.





Then I measured up some pine boards and painted them black to match the fireplace mantle and nailed them in place. I got the curtains up too.



So the first picture above has become this. I still have the chair rail, picture rail, ceiling molding, three doorways and the baseboards to do but at least I've started.



We are in the eleventh year of our ambitious three year project!