On The Beat: 10/11

The house on the hill

by Jim Bucher

 

Ions ago during my Channel 2 feature reporting days, it was wonderful for a hometown boy telling hometown stories in his hometown. Can I use the word “hometown” anymore in a sentence? I miss those days because there is so much to share, but the gang at Dayton City Paper lets me continue my quest right here each week.

With that said, I stumbled upon something yet again that set off my curiosity radar.

It’s “The House On the Hill” next to Miami Valley Hospital. No, this isn’t a Halloween story, but rather an “I didn’t know that” kind of thing.

Years ago, I put together a TV story on this beautiful home when a viewer called asking about it. Part of my “Hey Buch, What’s Up With That?” segment. Afraid it was a while back, and in my old age, I’ve forgotten the particulars.

So, thanks to my friend Curt Dalton at Dayton History and Sharon Howard, a former colleague of mine at the TV station, now PR and Community Relations at Miami Valley Hospital, I’m getting the information I need.

OK, if you’re traveling south on Main, at Apple Street, as you’re heading up the hill, look to the left, and you’ll see it. A beautiful piece of architectural history, which at a time was one of hundreds throughout our fair city.

Off track here a bit, but a couple of these gems that remain include the Pollack and Huffman homes on Monument across from the YMCA.

And at one time, Dayton’s rich and famous lived in huge mansions along Robert Drive where I-75 is now.

But this particular domicile was owned by Rudolph Pretzinger, a prominent Dayton businessman. The Victorian-Queen Anne style home was designed in 1889 by his famous architect brother, Albert Pretzinger, responsible for many of Dayton’s historic structures.

Who lives at that home? Sharon tells me it’s one of the most frequently asked questions.

“The Pretzinger family owned six acres of land that backed up to the Miami Valley Hospital,” she says. “MVH bought the land early in the 20th century, and for many years, the hospital president lived in the house.”

The last president to occupy the house was Dr. Frank Sutton and his family, who lived in the notable landmark between 1948 and 1973. Today, the house retains much of its late 19th century charm and serves as office space for several areas of the hospital.

Dalton provided information which includes that Rudolph was born in 1847, and emigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 7 and settled in Dayton.

Later, he earned a pharmacy degree and opened a drugstore downtown, which he owned and operated until his death in 1909.

Pretzinger was involved in a little controversy back in the day. Since his property bordered Wyoming Street, the city, which was modernizing, had sidewalks constructed in 1894— and billed the owner.

Rudolph reluctantly paid his share, but drew a line in the sand, or rather on the sidewalk, in 1896 when he was told the newly paved walkways on Main Street is his responsibility, too.

He refused and took the city to court. Seems an early Ohio law was in his favor, which states, “No property owner should be repeatedly taxed for street improvements within a five-year period.”

While he won his case in Montgomery County Court, it was reversed on appeal to the circuit court, but Pretzinger was ultimately victorious on appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. You go, Rudolph. Guess you can fight city hall.

Pretzinger’s house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, qualifying because of its significant historical architecture.

It’s two and a half stories tall, with access through an arched doorway in the center of the façade.

The northwestern corner of the house is a three-story tower with windows on each story. Limestone was used to construct the foundation and for other exterior elements, and the walls are brick and the roof asphalt.

It has big rooms, high ceilings, and, with the hospital’s tender loving care, will be here for a long time to come.

“In 2015, Miami Valley Hospital celebrated its 125th anniversary of providing care for the people in the region,” Sharon says. “Today, we are the area’s only Level 1 trauma center, have 5,000 employees, operate Miami Valley Hospital South, but our foundation will always be our history.”

So, now you know, or in my case, know again.

Cheers!

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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