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The Hotel Van Cleve was an historic 12-storey, 236 room hotel that once stood at 36 West 1st St in Dayton, Ohio. It is perhaps best known as the location that Boeing engineers designed the B-52 Stratofortress over a single weekend in 1948. The hotel was demolished in 1969.
The Van Cleve was named after William Van Cleave, a pioneer settler of Dayton, Ohio who had established a hotel and tavern in Dayton in 1812. The hotel was financed by the Stranahan, Harris and Otis Company of Toledo and built in 1927 by Hill Smith and Company for a cost of $1.2 Million. The hotel officially opened in January 1928 in the presence of the Governor of Ohio, Vic Donahey, the Mayor of Columbus, James J. Thomas as well as prominent hoteliers from across the United States. The first general manager was C.C. Schiffler, a hotelier originally from Germany and who had formerly been the manager of the Ritz-Carlton in New York.
In 1932 the hotel was acquired and run through the 1930s by hotel industry pioneer Ralph Hitz's National Hotel Management Company. In the fall of 1939, the Van Cleve hosted Bob Chester's orchestra for a dance music program, aired nationally on CBS radio.
Through the 1960s the Van Cleve faced a steady decline in business due to newer more modern hotels and motels being built in the area. In 1967, the shareholders authorized the board to dissolve the hotel corporation and put the building up for sale. While the city attempted to buy the hotel for apartments, The Van Cleve was eventually acquired by Christ Episcopal Church, which was located next door to the hotel, in November, 1967. This occurred after an anonymous donor purchased the hotel for between $750,000 and $1,000,000 and gave it to the church as a gift. The building closed as a hotel on December 31, 1967. It was supposed to be converted into a home for the elderly, however this plan was scrapped when the cost for renovation proved to be too high. After the hotel was closed, its restaurant, the Mayfair, and bar, The Wagon Wheel, remained open until October 1968. After the restaurant and bar closed the building remained empty until March 1969, when its furnishings were auctioned off and demolition began. Demolition was completed in June 1969.
Following demolition Parking Management, Inc. opened a parking lot on the site. This was supposed to be temporary, until Christ Church could decide what to do with the site. However, Parking Management, Inc. still operates a parking lot on the site today.
- Jeanette Remak; Boeing B-52 Stratofortress: Warrior Queen of the USAF; Fonthill Media Limited; 2016
- "Governor and Capital Mayor to Visit Hotel" Dayton Herald Newspaper; 04 January 1928, Page 1
- "Hotel Van Cleve Opens" Dayton Herald Newspaper, 4 January 1928
- Brainard Platt; "Van Cleve Hotel Up For Sale; Mayor to Make Offer" Journal Herald Newspaper (Dayton, Ohio), 28 October 1967
- "Christ Church gets OK to Buy Hotel" Journal Herald Newspaper (Dayton, Ohio), 11 November 1967
- "Alternatives Sought for Van Cleve" Journal Herald Newspaper (Dayton, Ohio), 10 February 1969
- Jerry R. Cole; "The End of the Van Cleve" Journal Herald Newspaper (Dayton, Ohio), June 11, 1969