Landmark Awaits Wreckers

 

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on July 18, 1961
 
LANDMARK AWAITS WRECKERS
City’s ‘Who’s Who’ Opened New Miami Hotel in 1915
By DOC FISHER
 
          There will be a lot of reminiscing when the wrecker’s hammer begins tearing into the 11-story Miami hotel early next year.   Business men and socialites will recall the past.
          Some will remember when Frederick H. Rike first got the idea for a hotel at Second and Ludlow Sts. a half century ago.
          THEY ALSO will recall that John H. Patterson, then president of the National Cash Register Co., and other leading Daytonians threw their financial support behind the project.
          Construction began in August of 1913, but progress was washed aside by the disastrous Dayton flood four months later.
          Patterson, according to an account of that era, felt that building a hotel immediately after the flood would be the “greatest stimulus business conditions could receive.”
          The business end of the development quickly was whipped in shape and brick and mortar soon made the project a reality.
          Its estimated cost was $1,000,000—a more astounding figure in that era than it is today.
          But finances and construction are not the only aspect of the hotel’s first days some Daytonians will think about when the building begins coming down for a new seven-story building for the Rike–Kumler Co.
          SOME WILL remember the crisp October nights in 1915 when a charity ball for hospitals and a formal opening the following night drew the cream of Dayton society.
          Remember the ball on Friday, Oct. 8, 1915?  An account the following day in the Daily News noted:
          “Dayton doesn’t recall anything comparable with the hospitals ball at the new Miami hotel on Friday night.  Besides being the most largely attended affair of its kind, it was decidedly the smartest event in the history of Dayton society.
          “Automobiles (there was no mention of horses and buggies) hurried hither and yon, leaving their burdens at the entrance to the hotel, then darting away to make room for other cars which hurried along to bring their charges to the ball.”
          There followed long lists of names of those attending, including the cream of Dayton society.
          OF THE SATURDAY night, Oct. 10, 1915, formal opening, newspaper accounts relate there were 500 dinner guests, again including leading Daytonians and their out-of-town guests.
          “Society was present en masse to give its support to the formal opening of this magnificent new hotel.
          “The debutantes and their following, the young married set and the more distinguished matrons and men were all there and strikingly pretty gowns and flashing jewels were much in evidence,” wrote a chronicler of the time.
          But the hostelry in which all this took place nearly a half century ago will no longer welcome guests after about Nov. 1.
          Pick Hotels Corp. will begin closing shop—perhaps a floor at a time—before that date.  Then Rike’s will use the hotel for its retail operations until after the first of the year.
          RAZING OF the Miami will bring to an end—at least temporarily—the Pick operation in Dayton.  The corporation leased the Miami in 1936, then bought it in 1942 and sold to Rike’s in 1959.
          J. Edgar Moss, executive vice president of the hotel chain, said that Pick has no further plans at the present for Dayton.  “We are still looking.  But nothing suitable has turned up as yet,” he said when asked about a future operation here.
         Through the years the Miami management has played host to many famous men.  Among them were Charles Evans Hughes, William Jennings Bryan, Henry Ford, Jack Dempsey and Joseph P. Tumulty.
          Gus Stratis, now associated with the Van Cleve hotel, said he was the Miami’s first maitre d’hotel.  He remembers the “big parties” for Taft, Dempsey and others and the souvenir gold plates given each guest the night the hotel opened.
          Prime movers in construction of the Miami in those early days of Dayton development, in addition to Rike and Patterson, were Irvin G. Kumler, Col. E. A. Deeds, William Craven and John A. McGee, all members of the building company.
          IMMEDIATELY upon completion of the structure, the operating lease was acquired by Harry B. Gates of Indianapolis.  Gates and Richard H. McClellan became the first president and treasurer-general manager, respectively, of the operating company.
          The two men also operated the Severin hotel in Indianapolis.  Gates’ son, A. Bennett Gates, became secretary of the Miami Hotel Co., and later succeeded his father as president.
          The Gates interests brought N. Leonard Cohen from Indianapolis to become the Miami’s first resident manager.
          Reminiscing also took place at the time the hotel opened in 1915.  Some Daytonians then termed it the first such event since the Phillips House opened Oct. 14, 1852.
          They praised the sponsors “who have given Dayton a million dollar institution that is scarcely second to any hotel in the country.”