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Passing of the Landmark


This article appeared in the Journal Herald on April 7, 1973
The Passing of the Landmark
By Martin J. Kelly
          In June, 1869, workmen commenced the erection of a large, five-story, triangular-shaped industrial complex situated at East Fourth and St. Clair streets. Presently, 104 years later, workmen are again on the scene, this time to destroy what remains of the once imposing and pretentious Beaver & Butt Manufactory, a name now forgotten but once intimately associated with the Dayton building industry.
          Mention of the passing of this industrial landmark is deserving because it not only was interesting architecturally but was a tribute to the perseverance of the two men who built it, Benjamin Beaver and John Butt.
          These pioneering gentlemen started out in 1838 as apprentice carpenters, after which they formed a partnership. For nearly 40 years the firm of Beaver & Butt prospered in general construction, planning millwork and the manufacture of building materials.
          By 1866, their firm as one of the largest in the city, with contracts extending to neighboring states. Their continued success ultimately resulted in the 1869 construction of the Beaver & Butt Manufactory.
          The accompanying illustration indicates that the new structure outwardly resembled a fine continental hotel rather than a factory. Topped with galvanized iron cornice and mansard roof, the façade displayed an array of evenly spaced Roman arch windows decorated with limestone keystones and imposts. The interior was completely equipped with machinery capable of producing all types of finished woodwork.
          Following John Butt’s death in 1885, Mr. Beaver gradually closed down the works and in August, 1887, announced a “Grand Auction Sale” of the building, which netted $38,750. The name of Beaver & Butt then slipped into obscurity and eventually the building was known as the Schwind Power Building. About 1930, fire destroyed all but two floors, and in its last years these were occupied primarily by commission merchants.
          Even as its old walls fade away into memory, it cannot in itself be viewed as progress, but progress only in the sense of what the Beaver & Butt Manufactory accomplished for Dayton’s growth and improvement.