The End of the Van Cleve

 

This article appeared in the Journal Herald on June 11, 1969
 
                     The End of the Van Cleve
By Jerry R. Cole
     Going…Going…(almost) Gone…
     The old Van Cleve Hotel, once a proud member of the downtown Dayton community, is within only a few bricks of being…gone.
     Not just empty of room guests, as it has been since Dec. 31, 1967, but gone.
     Not just empty of its restaurant and bar guests, as it has been since October, 1968, but gone.
     Gone. A bare tract of land measuring 100 by 196 feet.
     Where stood a proud, well-patronized hotel with 236 rooms in a 12-story building.
     THE VAN CLEVE will be only a memory as former guests and patrons will use its grounds for a—perhaps the greatest indignity which could befall a proud hotel—parking lot.
     Before the Van Cleve was acquired by Christ Episcopal Church in November, 1967, and closed as a hotel at the end of that year, it was a living story about people.
     …Like Raymond C. Meyerhoffer, just plain “Ray” to his customers, who started to work as a barber in the hotel the day it opened—Jan. 5, 1928.
     . . . Like the late Gus Stratis who was maitre d’ at the hotel from Dec. 30, 1933, until Jan. 23, 1967. Gus was a hotel and a Dayton institution and he almost outlasted the hotel—he died in January, 1968.
     . . .LIKE CLAUDE Cannon who started to work for the hotel in 1933 at $14 a week and ended up as president of the corporation and a stockholder. He started as a night restaurant controller and night time-keeper.
     . . . Like the thousands of businessmen, members of the Barflies and the 39ers clubs and the Lions and many others who met there daily or weekly for their lunches or club meetings.
     The Van Cleve even claimed to be the birthplace of the Air Force’s B52 bomber when officials of Boeing Company used a suite in the hotel to redesign the plane during a four-day meeting.
     THE VAN CLEVE meant something special to a lot of Daytonians and visitors to the city, but soon it will be just a memory.
     And with the rapid rate of construction in the city, the memory might not last long. Parking Management, Inc., will operate a parking lot there, but only until Van Cleve House, Inc., and Christ Church decide how the site can best be used.
     When Christ Church acquired the hotel in 1967 as a gift, it was supposed to be converted into a home for the elderly. The plan was scrapped when the cost for renovation proved to be too high.
     The $115,000 cost of wrecking the building the church hopes to recover from parking fees. Demolition started in early March and will be completed within a few days.
     THE VAN CLEVE didn’t suffer the high rate of depreciation that new things –like automobiles—do today. It cost $1.2 million to construct in 1927 and sold for an estimated $1 million in 1967.
     Church officials and corporation officers are now considering several alternatives for the site of the old hotel.
     The might build a high-rise office building. Or apartment. Or retail businesses. Or (would you believe it?) another hotel!