The Dayton Society of Artists (DSA) is Dayton’s premier art organization. It was originally founded as the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors in 1938 by artists in association with the Dayton Art Institute where meetings and exhibits took place for many years. The opportunity to have a gallery of their own came during the Dayton urban renewal project of the 1960s when the members bought the Victorian style house at 48 High Street for $6,525. During that time, the organization applied for and became an official non-profit. Keeping with its 19th century charm and authenticity, the house was remodeled and converted into an art gallery and the DSA continues to make improvements. In 2012 the back ramp was added for better accessibility. In 2016 the name was changed from the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors to be more inclusive as the Dayton Society of Artists. In order to help provide operating costs and to support their member artists, the upstairs bedrooms are rented out as private art studios. Currently, the DSA exhibits seven shows a year and provides workshops and events to their members, artists, and the community to fulfill their mission to “connect, support, and educate artists and the community.”
48 HIGH STREET HISTORY
In 1843, Wesley started his own business and became prominent operating a brick-making yard east of Smithville on Xenia Pike near the Linden Avenue railroad crossing. Throughout his career as a brick contractor, he built many buildings in the Dayton area. Among these were the Old Market House, Ropers Methodist Church at Fifth and Jackson in the (now) Oregon District, and the first hospital in Dayton, Saint Elizabeth Hospital located on Franklin Street. It held 12 beds. Saint Elizabeth Hospital was also known as St. Elizabeth Medical Center (1969) and Franciscan Medical Center (1996).
In his early years, Wesley Boren lived on Green Street in what is now the Oregon District. During the Civil War, he lived at Van Buren and Cass Streets. In 1868, he bought two lots on High Street from William Dickey, a prominent stone quarry operator. Wesley began to build at 48 High Street in 1869. He and his family lived there the rest of his life.
WESLEY’S DAUGHTER, AMANDA, AND HER HUSBAND, WILLIAM
During the Civil War (sometime between 1861-1865), William volunteered as a clerk in the 93rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Then, Wesley and Amanda lived at 48 High Street. In 1875, William began to build just south at 56 High Street for his family. The family stayed there until 1883, when they moved to St. Paul Minnesota, where William became superintendent of the St. Paul Harvester Works.
In 1890, William Pritz returned to Dayton where he became the superintendent of Stoddard Manufacturing Company, which at that time made farm implements and later manufactured automobiles. He moved back to 56 High Street. In 1893, William went into business for himself, founding the Ohio Bedsprings Company.
When Wesley Boren died in 1903, the Pritz family moved into 48 High Street, because it was subjectively a better house. In 1913 the flood did not reach High Street (the water having stopped at Eagle Street). However, the Pritz family panicked and moved to higher ground temporarily.
On March 11, 1916, the Pritzs celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at 48 High Street with a large crowd and a gala celebration. On April 17, 1916, Mr. Pritz fell forward while at the breakfast table and died of heart failure.
After Mr. Pritz’s death, his wife, Amanda, lived at 48 High Street with a maiden daughter, Alice, until the later part of 1916, when she sold the house.
Martha Bittner learned about this and told David L. Smith, Chairman of the Board, who made a bid of $6,525, with the understanding that the building would be used as a general headquarters and as an office for the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors. Mr. Smith, with unanimous support of the Board, made the bid because Morris Fulkerson, the president, was out of town. The Gallery was to be open to the public and art instruction courses were to be available to the members of the community at a modest fee to defray expenses of such courses.
The bids were reviewed by the City and the members of the Bomberger Area Association at a meeting held July 10, 1967. it was the unanimous opinion of sixteen members present to recommend to the City that the bid be awarded to the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors, Inc.
48 High Street was purchased from the City of Dayton by the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors on July 20, 1967 for $6,525. It continues to the present day to be owned and used by the Dayton Society of Artists. 48 High Street Gallery is a registered Montgomery County Landmark.
The information below was written by Kay Smith from research by Martin Kelly and edited by Amanda Grieve.