The Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors (DSPS) is Dayton’s premiere art organization. It was founded 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 in what used to be the Burns Jackson area of the city. Keeping with its 19th century charm and authenticity, the house, build in 1869, was remodeled and converted into an art gallery. The 48 High Street Gallery has served as the home of the organization for over forty years. DSPS is active in supporting the events and programs held by the St. Anne’s Historic District where it is located. The 48 High Street Gallery is a registered Montgomery County Landmark.
The information below was written by Kay Smith from research by Martin Kelly.
Wesley Boren was born in Washington County, Tennessee on December 2, 1816. He died at 48 High Street, Dayton, Ohio on October 10, 1903 at the age of 88.
In 1836, Wesley Boren walked to Dayton from Jonesboro, Tennessee, penniless, with all he owned in a kerchief. He went to work for a brick contractor Daniel Richmonds, from whom he learned his trade. On November 6, 1842, Wesley married Lydia Coblentz.
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, and Saint Elizabeth Hospital (now Franciscan Medical Center).
In his early years, Wesley Boren livedon 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. He died October 10, 1903.
After the death of Wesley Boren, his eldest child, Amanda, married William Pritz in 1866. William was one of ten children born to Adam Pritz, a prominent farm equipment manufacturer. The company made primarily reapers and mowers.
During the Civil War, 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.
Wesley Boren died in 1903, and the Pritz family moved into the 48 High Street house, which was a better house. The 1913 flood did not reach High Street, the water having stopped at Eagle Street. The Pritz family, however, 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.
The first owner, whom Mrs. Pritz sold to, turned the home into a rooming house, as did successive owners. One owner lost the house during the Great Depression to Federal Savings and Loan.
Originally, the first room to the left was the front parlor. The next room was a sitting room. Beyond the double doors at the left end of the siting room was a library, which was used in their later years by Mr. and Mrs. Boren as their bedroom. The next room back was the original dining room. Beyond this was a one story brick kitchen, which was torn down in 1942. The porch on the side toward the back was open, as was a porch on the south side of the kitchen.
William and Amanda Pritz had eight children. Mrs. Helen Pritz Hammond, one of their children, liked art and visited the gallery several times before she died at age 104. Helen wrote a letter to Hubert Meeker of the “Journal Herald” at the time the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors bought the house. Following is an excerpt from her letter: “This house was the home of my grandparents until their deaths. There they had many years of gracious, dignified living, culminating in a serene old age. They died at ages 86 and 85, revered by their neighbors and friends, dearly loved by their descendants.”
The City of Dayton bought the house for $35,000 as part of the East Dayton Urban Renewal Project. It was later put up for a silent bid auction. Sealed bids were to be received until noon on Tuesday, June 13, 1967.
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 unanimousopinion 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 DSPS.