Engineers Club Story Prehistory & Barn Gang A New Building The First Decades Postwar Peak Years Crisis & Renovation Building Tour A Charitable Mission Resources

 

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The First Decades

By Mark Martel

“In this club are combined so many features of a certain interesting form of human activities that we are attracted by the story of its organization as well as by the architecture which houses it.”

—The Architectural Record, January–June, 1919

Even before the building was erected, prices rose. In 1916 lunches jumped to $0.35! Five years later membership had expanded to include those who worked with engineers, and women were granted most club privileges. The club soon installed its first “wireless” or radio set, and the new library shelved its first thousand books.

 

Aviation also found a pioneering home near the club. Directly across the river McCook Field became the first military aviation test field. There early aviator Harold R. Harris became the first to use a parachute successfully, landing in a grape arbor in North Dayton. This was fortuitous since he also later flew under the Main Street bridge…upside down.

 

The Club served unofficially as the initial “Officers Club” for McCook’s Army Air Corps officers. Along with Deed’s leadership, this interchange of aviators and engineers may have helped foster McCook as the Army’s chief R&D center for aviation, later to shift to nearby WPAFB.

 

In 1925 a cozy Barber Shop was installed upstairs off the Loggia porch, overlooking the airfield across the river. All members, wives and children could get clipped at “usual city prices.” It is unknown how many women trusted their locks to the club barber. The fastidious and private Orville Wright found this the perfect place to get a trim while observing the progress of aviation.


Weathering the great depression

In 1929 the club title transferred to the members with an estimated value of $405,000. The library by then held 3200 books. With the onset of the depression, membership dropped by 10%. But the club survived, and by the 1936 had accepted its first female member, Maude Gardner.

 

During the same years Charles Kettering co-invented Freon 12 refrigerant gas, and several other members worked on related technology at the Frigidaire plant in town. So it was fitting that air conditioning was installed in the club in 1937.

 

During the same period the lower level was developed as the French & Italian rooms.

 

WWII

By the time of Pearl Harbor membership had climbed to 1000 members. Though war rationing restricted vacations and celebrations, the club found ways to provide some fun and relief to the growing membership working on the war efforts. See the related slideshow for some examples.

 

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Men’s Lounge, now the English Room. View a photo gallery of the Engineers Club Through the Years>>

 

 

Related

Opening Day Brochure PDF

1942 Brochure PDF

 

External Links

The 1913 Dayton Flood

A Pictorial History of the Great Dayton Flood

Miami Conservancy District

Dayton History

Ohio History Central