This Day in Dayton, 18 October

An article in the Journal and Courier on October 18, 1998 was headlined “Couple restore ‘Castle Hall’ as gift to Dayton, kids” by Kevin Cullen. Ron Koehler and Cindy Marsh bought the 100-year-old, two-story building in 1996 and set about restoring it. The concrete-block walls resemble stones, and the words “CASTLE HALL” are set into the facade above the store front. The building was erected by Fred Widmer in 1897-98 as a drugstore and general merchandise with a working soda fountain. Several local boys, including Kenneth Yost, worked as a soda jerk there while in high school. In 1953, Mr. Widmer retired and sold the business to J. D. Small, who operated it until the high school closed. Besides the pharmacy, soda fountain, and general store, Mr. Small specialized in theater make-up, useful to the students in the local school plays and others. Once a year he let the senior class at Dayton High School operate the store and keep a portion of the proceeds for their senior trip. Koehler and Marsh found the building had been allowed to fall into disrepair. The upper story, originally the meeting room for the Knights of Pythias lodge, had been used as a basketball court and a Halloween spook house. The first floor had most recently housed several businesses, but had been vacant for a while. As repairs were performed, they discovered the original recessed doorway was still intact, complete with display windows framed in cast iron decorated with a Greek key pattern. The 14-foot ceilings were still covered in embossed tin panels with deep cornices. The original woodwork was still there. Koehler was quoted as saying “People who move here want that small town feeling … you don’t get that in most places.” (Photo from Wikipedia)

Susan ClawsonComment