Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jan 18

The R. A. Kelly Co. Office Building

Posted on January 18, 2019 at 4:15 PM by Melissa Dalton

We begin the second part of our series on historic buildings in Greene County. This week, we are looking at the R. A. Kelly Company Office Building, which sits on a one-half acre lot located at West Market and Dayton Avenue in Xenia, Ohio (Fig 1). One would assume this story begins with Robert A. Kelly, an immigrant from Ireland who started a rope company in Xenia, but the building actually has roots years before.

Fig 1. Sketch of R. A. Kelley Co. Office Building from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974 (J
Fig 1. Sketch of R. A. Kelly Company Office Building from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974 (Greene County Archives)

The history of this building isn’t as cut and dry as anticipated (not sure why I assumed it would be). Typically, the early tax records list when buildings are added or removed from property. However, we were unable to determine, with tax records alone, when a structure was added to this property. The property changed hands many times over the years, but with the assistance of Broadstone’s History of Greene County, we were able to find the building!

Broadstone claims that James and Mason Jefferies, well-known cabinet and furniture makers in Xenia, built the structure in 1870. However, the tax records contradict this claim. The records indicate that they did not own the property until 1883, at which time there was a $3000 improvement to the lot, meaning the structure was added thirteen years later than Broadstone claimed.

It appears the Jefferies’ company went out of business short thereafter, and from there, the property changed hands many times. From 1886 to 1891, another cordage company, the Field Cordage Co., owned the property. It then was deeded to the Security Corporation, and in 1893, it again changed ownership, and was now part of the U.S. Cordage Co. (later known as the American Cordage Co.) (Fig 2). The property was in a state of flux for roughly ten years, but in 1901, the R. A. Kelly Co. took ownership of the property. The R. A. Kelly Co. owned the building for over fifty years, but in 1955, they moved their offices to a new location (Fig 3).

Fig 2. 1896 Greene County Atlas with lot outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1896 Greene County Atlas with lot outlined in red (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Image from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 27, 1982 (JPG)
Fig 3. Image from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 27, 1982 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

After the R. A. Kelly Co. moved, the Wyandot Realty Co. bought the property, and held it until at least 1970. During that time (and even after), the building saw many tenants, including the Department of Natural Resources, Water & Soil Conservation, OLT Laboratory, Frye Gene Insurance, and Miami Valley Production Credit Association. In 1974, the building was occupied by the Soil & Water Conservation District, and was severely damaged when the tornado struck Xenia. Here at the Archives, we have a small collection of records and photographs from the District, which includes photographs of the damage (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Photographs of building after the 1974 Xenia Tornado (JPG)
Fig 4. Photographs of building after the 1974 Xenia Tornado (JPG)
Fig 4. Photographs of building after 1974 Xenia Tornado (Soil & Water Conservation District)

The Miami Valley Production Credit Association eventually bought the property, but in 1985, it was deeded to Kay Slesinger, a realtor in the area. Kay and John Slesinger sold the property to Greene County Alcohol & Drug Addiction / Mental Health Service Board in 1995. Two years later in 1997, the Christopher House opened. The Christopher House, which is operated by TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc., is a 16-bed facility for men ages 18 and over, and provides chemical dependency treatment (Fig 5). Today, over twenty years later, the Christopher House still occupies the space.

Fig 5. Image of the Christopher House (JPG)
Fig 5. Image of the Christopher House (Greene County GIS Maps)

We hoped you enjoyed the second installment of our historic buildings series! Stayed tuned as we have more to come!

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Broadstone, M. A. (Ed.). (1918). History of Greene County, Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions (Vol. 1). Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Greene County Archives
Greene County GIS Maps
NewspaperARCHIVE.com


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