“The Grande Hall at Liberty Tower was a remarkable hidden gem that will soon become one of Dayton’s favorite venues.”

 

The Grande Hall at Liberty Tower has a long and rich story that we feel honored to preserve and share for generations to come.

Built in 1931 by the design firm, Schneck & Williams, the building was originally called the Mutual Home Savings Association building. Schneck & Williams were noted architects who also designed Orville Wright’s home, ‘Hawthorn Hill’, and The Engineers Club of Dayton.

The building changed names to the Hulman Building in 1949, named after the Hulman family from Terre Haute. The Hulman’s were also famous for owning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fast forward to 1998 when Liberty Savings Bank purchased and renamed the building to what it is known today, Liberty Tower.

The Grande Hall at Liberty Tower is Dayton’s only example of Setback Art Deco architecture, which is evident in the setback “steps” that climb up the exterior of the building providing visual interest along its tall vertical lines. Other famous Setback Art Deco buildings include The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center. In fact, Liberty Tower and The Empire State building opened the same year.

During World War II, Liberty Tower was home to the Army Signal Core with offices in the lobby and as well as an observation deck on the roof. With Liberty Tower being the tallest building in Dayton at the time, the roof provided an ideal location to keep watch for air raids. They always had 2 watchmen on the roof 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The building’s code name was ‘Dog Easy 77,’ which is now the namesake of the building’s signature cocktail.

In the 1990’s the building went through a major renovation that actually uncovered many of the building’s beautiful features. Accoustic ceiling tile was taken down to uncover the stunning hand-painted Art Deco ceiling, drywall was removed revealing gorgeous walnut veneer walls and marble fireplaces that were walled over.

The 1990’s renovation turned more into a preservation project that we are continuing today. We are preserving and re-purposing everything that we possibly can to stay true to our historic roots. Marble from the old bank teller stalls are being repurposed in the restrooms. Even old glass doorknobs found in building storage are getting new life on The Grande Hall’s doors. As the keepers of history, we take our responsibility to heart and look forward to the new stories that will take place within these walls.

Liberty Tower fun facts:

  • Liberty Tower is 295 feet high and is 23 floors tall.

  • It was the tallest building in Dayton from 1931-1969.

  • Liberty Tower had Dayton’s first underground parking garage that even included a filling station.

  • Planning for the building started in 1929, and they broke ground in 1930. The tower only took 11 months to complete.

  • The interior marble walls were transported all the way from Italy via a steamship, while the marble floors are from Tennessee. Long esteemed by architects and builders, Tennessee marble has been used in many notable buildings like the US Capitol Building, Grand Central Station and the National Gallery of Art.

  • In 1982, Liberty Tower became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.