FBD

Uncovered Speakeasy

We found a forgotten gem in the basement.

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An unusually decorated basement room out of sight from the public in an East Third Street commercial building could be a hidden piece of downtown’s Prohibition-era history, an inquiry by the Dayton Daily News shows.

Stories about secret underground speakeasies have been passed along and have achieved legend status among local history buffs. But up until now specific locations haven’t been pinned down, said local history author Curt Dalton of Dayton History, Montgomery County’s official historical organization.

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Queries posted on Dalton’s website DaytonHistoryBooks.com request information about 1920s-era speakeasies, or illegal drinking places, as well as bookie joints for illegal betting, and other “secret rooms” alleged to have been accessible by underground steam heating tunnels that criss-cross downtown.

Speakeasies multiplied during the Prohibition Era, which began in 1920 after Congress passed the Volstead Act banning the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcohol.

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Interest in Dayton history is peaking this year with the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Great Flood. But this year also marks the 80th anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal in 1933.

Dalton, who has spent decades researching local history, said interviews for his books uncovered a few recollections, mostly of home-based speakeasies a parent operated, or a restaurant that sold alcohol under the table.

“It was like the restaurant that had stuff behind the bar, or the house where they made the alcohol,” Dalton said. “When police showed up, mom would flush the booze down the toilet to get rid of as much as possible.”

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New Vision for Massive Downtown Dayton Project

One of the largest downtown Dayton projects in decades has a new developer and a new vision. Columbus-based Windsor Companies, a residential and commercial contractor, has taken the reins of the Fire Blocks District: a 10-acre, six-building complex bounded by Second and Fourth streets and Jefferson and St. Clair streets. 

A successful Fire Blocks project would create jobs, new residential and office space and breathe more life into the renaissance underway in downtown Dayton.

Windsor Companies — which has taken over for previous developer, The Ellway Group — is starting immediately on its vision for the historic redevelopment. 

“Windsor is wicked good at taking historical buildings and turning them into innovative, sexy spaces,” said Eric VanZwieten, head of marketing and PR. 

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The leadership team at Windsor including Eric VanZwieten, second from the right.

The leadership team at Windsor including Eric VanZwieten, second from the right.

Action in the Fire Blocks District

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A Columbus developer says it has taken over a stalled project to transform the Fire Blocks District and vows to begin work on a $35 million first phase this week, which could help prevent the project from losing millions of dollars worth of tax incentives.

Windsor Companies has agreed to acquire multiple properties in and around the 100 block of East Third Street from the Dayton-based Ellway Group, said Eric VanZwieten with the Windsor Companies.

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Exclusive: The team with the $100M plan for Fire Blocks District

Exclusive: The team with the $100M plan for Fire Blocks District

The developers behind Fire Blocks District in downtown Dayton have been playing things close to the vest as they build the capital for the $100 million revival.

Exclusive: Downtown's Price Stores building will get a whole new (old) look

Exclusive: Downtown's Price Stores building will get a whole new (old) look

The five-story building at 52 S. Jefferson St. will lose the distinct beige panels that cover it over the next 12 to 18 months as The Ellway Group rehabilitates the building's top floors into a bar and a hotel. The namesake Price Stores shop will stay open on the ground space and part of the second floor, said Ellway principal Greg McCluskey.

The Windsor Companies