1913 Flood

Commemorating the 100-Year Anniversary


This webpage is a companion piece to the article "100 Years Ago at Franklin & Ludlow Streets: The Great Dayton Flood of 1913" that was published in the winter 2013 issue of Vision -- Chaminade Julienne's quarterly alumni magazine -- to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Great Dayton Flood.

Flooding began Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, bringing nine to 11 inches of precipitation during a five-day period. An estimated four trillion gallons of water (roughly equal to the volume of water that passes over Niagara Falls in 30 four days time) engulfed 14 square miles of downtown Dayton. Waters were reported to crest 10 to 12 feet above ground level, reaching as high as 20 feet in places of lower elevation.

Mud, debris from homes and businesses, and upward of 3,000 horse and animal carcasses littered nearly all areas affected by the flood. The recovery would take years, but eventually culminated in the creation of The Miami Conservancy District in 1914 and the construction of five dams -- Englewood, Germantown, Huffman, Lockington and Taylorsville -- completed in 1922.

The estimated death toll was between 300 to 400, including 123 casualties in the city of Dayton. Property damage was estimated at more than $100 million (well over $2 billion today).

Special thanks to Fr. Angelo Anthony, Gary Geisel and Mary Beemsterboer from Emmanuel Parish; Alex Heckman from Dayton History; and the Dayton Metro Library for their support of and assistance with this project.



Historical Timeline

At Franklin & Ludlow Streets: 1829 To 2013

1829: Opening of the Miami and Eerie Canal connecting Dayton and Cincinnati.

1837: Emmanuel Church built on Franklin Street.

1840: Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrive in Cincinnati from Belgium.

1849: SND arrive in Dayton via canal boat, purchase property and adjoining grounds (nearly 1 acre) at Franklin and Ludlow for $4,500. Open Emmanuel parochial school, the city’s first Catholic elementary school, shortly after.

1849: Brothers of Mary (Marianists) arrive in Dayton to avoid cholera epidemic in Cincinnati. Purchase 125-acre Dewbury Farm for $12,000 and a St. Joseph’s medal. Establish St. Mary’s School for Boys, the first of CJ’s predecessor schools, in July 1850.

1871-1873: Emmanuel Church is rebuilt at its current location.

1886: Sisters open Notre Dame Academy, a private secondary school for girls, with 21 total students.

1889: Notre Dame Academy graduates first two alumnae, Flora Forster and Etta Butz.

1904: Original building is demolished, and construction on the corner red brick building commences at Franklin and Ludlow.

1913: “The Great Dayton Flood” hits Miami Valley in late March. In 1914, the Miami Conservancy District is established. Construction of the Englewood, Germantown, Huffman, Lockington and Taylorsville Dams is completed in 1922.

1927: The Marianists purchase the former Notre Dame Academy property and open Chaminade High School.

1927: The Sisters move Notre Dame Academy to Homewood Avenue, renaming the school Julienne High School.

Oct. 17, 1950: Construction on "The New Building" begins, to include a cafeteria, gym and auditorium. The dedication takes place on May 25, 1952.

1956: The "Faculty Residence," including the Chapel, across from Emmanuel Church on Franklin Street (which would later house the Marianist brothers living at the property) is construced to accomodate 48.

1957: The "Sophomore Building" -- across from the Marianist Mission on Franklin Street -- is completed and opened in Jan. 1958, adding 12 more classrooms and a connection to the "Faculty Residence," and later became known as the "Junior Building."

1959: The red brick building on the corner of Franklin and Ludlow is torn down to make room for the new "Administration Building," dedicated on Oct. 16, 1960.

1964: Construction begins on the "1964 Building," which includes nine classrooms and library. Doors open in Sept. 1965.

1973: The owning religious orders decided to merge and open Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. Renovations like adding a girls' locker room and relocating the band room to a portion of the cafeteria take place to accomodate the merge. Many students from St. Joseph Commerical High School join a year later.

Oct. 7, 1982: "The Eagle Lands" in the courtyard at the entrance to the newly constructed parking lots A & B.

1988: Administrators purchase the building just east of CJ across Perry Street from then owner and Dayton native Ermal Fraze. It is used mainly as an indoor athletic facility up through the 2010-2011 school year.

2010-11: CJ celebrates two anniversaries: 160 years of Catholic secondary education in Dayton and 125 at its current location at Franklin and Ludlow Streets. An Anniversary Assembly is held Feb. 4, 2011.

Fall 2010: Blue Green Field -- the area situated inside of Longworth, Eaker and Perry Streets and formerly home to a DP&L steam plant -- opens for full practice use.

Sept. 22, 2010: The Student Conditioning Center (SCC), located at 77-79 Eaker Street, is converted from a warehouse to a 25,000-square-foot indoor athletic practice and training facility, and dedicated at the 2010 President's Dinner.

Fall 2011: The former indoor athletic facility (commonly known as "The Fraze Building" or "The Faust") at the former corner of Perry and Washington Streets, just east of the main school buidling, is demolished.

Sept. 15, 2011: The Eagle Tennis Center, a six-court facility at the northwest corner of Franklin and Ludlow Streets, is dedicated before the first inaugural match ever held on campus.

Jan. 9, 2013: Plans to open the CJ STEMM Center are announced. The nearly $4 million renovation project will transform much of the second-floor classrooms, laboratories and hallways into state-of-the-art learning spaces for technology and innovation


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Local Events

For complete details on the numerous community-wide commemorations planned, visit www.1913flood.com, or create a Google alert for "1913 Flood" to receive the latest news and updates via email.


Calvary Cemetery Remembers the Great 1913 Flood

SUN, MAR 24  |  2 to 4 p.m.  |  St. Henry Memorial

Calvary Cemetery will hold a commemorative service on Sunday, March 24 from 2 until 4 p.m. for all flood victims and survivors with special emphasis on those buried here; Prayers and readings, music and songs by Chaminade Julienne High School award winning choir, Father Scott Wright presiding; presentations by descendants and others with first hand accounts of the natural disaster; stories of the triumph of the human spirit as heroic efforts are made to rescue others and the community joins together to rebuild an even better Dayton. This event is free and open to the public.

Among the Highlights:

  • Dayton Newspaper writer Mary McCarty and family members telling thestory of near death and struggle of her great grandparents and grandparents who lived on Franklin Street;
  • Lynn Alejandrino sharing the first hand account written by her GreatAunt Minnie Althoff, who with fellow librarians worked to save thechildren’s literature collection at the Dayton Public Library from destruction;
  • Local author and historian Ed Breen relating the story of his father and Aunt Mary Louise as very young children trapped in the Philips Hotel and making an amazing escape to the rooftop of another building as fire and on rushing currents threatened them;
  • Members of the Hollencamp family displaying a private photograph collection displaying the damage done to their tailoring business located at Second and Market Street;
  • Photos and memories from the Barney Smith Car Company and the Hungarian Colony, both of which were changed forever by the natural disaster;

"If your family has been in Dayton for at least two generations, you probably have a flood story," says event organizer and Calvary Board of Trustees member Lynn Alejandrino. "At the end of our program, you’ll have an opportunity to share that story with us." For additional information 937-434-3489

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Wright State University Production

JAN 24 - FEB 9
1913: The Great Dayton Flood -- A Play by WSU

From The Guardian, Wright State's campus newspaper:

The prestige of Wright State’s Theatre program is recognized across the nation, and this January and February, the program will bring “1913: The Great Dayton Flood” into the spotlight.

Written by Stuart McDowell, the Chair of the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures, and Wright State alumnus Tim Nevits, this production not only displays the outstanding talent of the department, it tells the story of a significant local catastrophe.

The play is based on the late Allan Eckert’s acclaimed book about the Dayton flood of 1913, “A Time of Terror: The Great Dayton Flood.”  Additionally, the production includes stories from flood survivors and a theatre company that was performing at the Victoria Theatre at the time.


  • Jan. 24, 30, 31 and Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.
  • Jan. 25 & 26 and Feb. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m.
  • Jan. 27 and Feb. 2, 3, 9 & 10 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. For more information, contact the Box Office at (937) 775-2500.

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University of Dayton / Marianist Events

FEB 4 - JUNE 17
Hope on the Hill: Marianists and the 1913 Dayton Flood

This exhibit, running from Feb. 4 to June 17 on the second floor of Roesch Library on the University of Dayton campus, highlights events during and after the disaster and the significant role of St. Mary's College (now UD) in providing relief. For more information, visit www.udayton.edu or call (937) 229-4094.

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Dayton Metro Library Events

FEB 19 - April 1
Remember Promises Made in the Attic in 1913: The 100th Anniversary of the Great Dayton Flood and the Great Legacy of that Event

A one-hour Power Point program featuring vintage photographs of the Great Dayton Flood of 1913 including people being rescued from the flood, high waters never seen before in the area. Learn of the property damage, animal losses and Daytonians lost to the flood; listen to first-person accounts of the flood; plus a bonus of a trip to the five dams managed by the Miami Conservancy District that protect the Miami Valley from future floods and provide recreation areas. The vision of protecting our communities from future floods was a direct result of the devastation of the 1913 flood. Visit www.daytonmetrolibrary.org for complete details.

Feb. 19 6:30 to 8 p.m. Northtown Shiloh
March 4 6:30 to 8 p.m. Huber Heights
March 5 6:30 to 8 p.m. Brookville
March 7 6:30 to 8 p.m. Trotwood
March 19 6:30 to 8 p.m. Kettering Moraine
March 21 6:30 to 8 p.m. Vandalia
March 25 6:30 to 8 p.m. Northmont
April 1 6:30 to 8 p.m. Belmont

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Dayton Art Institute Events

FEB 23 - MAY 5
3 Exhibitions Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Flood

The Dayton Art Institute will present a suite of three exhibitions commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1913 flood. The following exhibitions will be presented from Feb. 23 - May 5:

  • Storm: Paintings by April Gornik
  • Watershed: 100 Years of Photography along the Great Miami River
  • Riverbank: Exploring Our River-Centered Development

For details, admission prices and more information, visit www.daytonartinstitute.org.

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Gem City Walking Tours

The Great Dayton Flood Walk of Downtown Dayton 

Guided Flood Walks will be offered on Fridays in March and April at 7 p.m. Cost is $10 per person. Make a reservation in advance to grantsguru501c3@yahoo.com or call (937) 274-4749 to recieve your meeting location. The walk is about two hours. Walkers will view vintage photos of the Flood, visit buildings that made it through the Flood, see high water marks of 1913, view architectural details of buildings and see historic sites.

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Dayton History: Carillon Park

Flood Exhibit

Dayton History is planning to open a new, permanent exhibit about the 1913 Flood this March, in time for the centennial commemoration. It will be based in an addition (now under construction) to one of the exhibit buildings at Carillon Historical Park. Check back at www.daytonhistory.org for more details.


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Transcript of the SNDdeN Journal

A 2,000-word handwritten account, authored by Sister Helen of the Sacred Heart at Franklin and Ludlow Streets, describes in great detail the tragic Flood of 1913 as it unfolded and the aftermath left in its wake. The transcript of the account has been preserved by the Notre Dame Academy Archives.

     Download the full transcript in PDF format here >

     Read "100 Years Ago at Franklin & Ludlow Streets" >


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Photo Gallery

To view more Flood photo galleries, visit the Dayton Metro Library's Dayton Remembers: Preserving the History of the Miami Valley collection online at content.daytonmetrolibrary.org. The collection contains hundreds of photographs depicting the destruction caused by one of Ohio's greatest natural disasters. At the library's Web site, you may also download the the original high-resolution images and view the 1913 Flood Postcards on a map of the Dayton metro area (see below).

1913 Flood Postcards, Dayton

View photos at daytonmetrolibrary.org >


The 1913 Flood

View photos at flickr.com >


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