After the flood of 1913, Second Street faced a new frontier. As it had previously been occupied by mansions and apartment buildings, the flood pushed residents away from downtown, moving them to Salem Avenue and Far Hills Avenue. This created the prime opportunity for development.
Planning for the Liberty Tower started in 1929, and construction started the next year. It took 11 months to create what was Dayton’s tallest building at that time. Liberty Tower was the tallest building in Dayton from 1931 until the construction of the Kettering Tower in 1969. The Mutual Home Building, as it was known then, was built out of concrete and steel and 23 stories tall. Attendants manned the garages and state-of-the-art elevators, giving an air of elegance.
During World War II, the Army Signal Corps moved into the building, manning a station in the lobby and one on the roof. As it was the tallest building in the city, the roof was used as a lookout for air raids. The code name for the tower was “Dog Easy 77.” For 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, two men kept watch through binoculars. Today, nesting falcons keep watch.
After WWII, the Hulman family bought the building and renamed it the Hulman Building. By the late 70s the Cen-Day Office Company owned the building. In 1998, Liberty Savings Bank purchased the building and gave it the current name, Liberty Tower. Restoration revealed Tennessee marble under the carpet in the lobby, and the original woodwork was discovered after removing 1970s-era lighting and paneling.
Today, a walk through this building will show much of the original detail. You can also check out some of the detail in the background of the upcoming movie Old Man and a Gun, starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, and Danny Glover. This story is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, who escaped from San Quentin Prison at age 70, and started a string of extraordinary heists. Scenes from the film were shot in Dayton in early May 2017, and the movie is expected to be released in late 2018.