On November 13, Restore Oregon presented the DeMuro Awards to seven extraordinary historic rehabilitation projects. The award is named in honor of Art DeMuro whose redevelopment of historic properties such as the White Stag Block set the standard for quality, creativity, persistence, and business acumen. This is the first in a series of posts about these projects.
Of all the different types of historic buildings, perhaps the most challenging to adapt to a new purpose is a church. The former First Baptist Church of Dayton is a highly visible landmark, facing Courthouse Square Park. Completed in 1886, it was Dayton’s first brick church and an extraordinary example of early masonry construction in Yamhill County. In 1979 it was listed in the National Register, and contributes to the Dayton Multiple Resource Area.
When purchased by the current owner, the church was unoccupied and significantly deteriorated. Previous owners had mucked up the space by inserting a mezzanine floor and random partition walls into the once proud space.
In 2012 ‘core and shell’ work involved cleaning and repointing the brick walls, seismic upgrades, roof and steeple work, and returning the original room configuration.
Then in 2014 construction began to repurpose the building as the Block House Cafe. The church was converted into a dining room and a rear addition was constructed to house the commercial kitchen and restrooms.
The dining room features a hickory floor, a fir ceiling, and a custom walnut cabinet set behind a dining counter. The fir table tops were made from original floor joists salvaged from the first phase of work.
For Dayton, which is active in the Oregon Main Street program, saving and reusing this landmark has created a boost in civic morale, and set a standard for future preservation projects.
It has transformed a visibly underutilized and deteriorating historic structure into a beautiful and vibrant gathering place. Today it is one of Dayton’s anchor destinations.
Twin Towers, LLC