The historic Dayton First Baptist Church building at 301 Main Street is experiencing new life – this time, as a restaurant. The building, built in 1886, is one of the oldest brick buildings in Yamhill County. Its congregation moved to larger quarters in the 1980s. Under the new ownership of Twin Towers LLC, it has undergone a historically sensitive renovation and a new structure with kitchen facilities has been constructed in the rear of the property. The Block House Cafe, previously at 302 Ferry Street, relocated to the renovated property in November 2014, serving up authentic American comfort food to the Dayton community and beyond.
Seismic upgrades, removal of the mezzanine floor that divided the space, and brick cleaning and repointing was completed in 2012. In 2014, the church space was converted into a dining room featuring a hickory floor, a fir ceiling, and a ten-foot high walnut custom cabinet set behind the dining counter. All of the fir table tops were made from the salvaged 1886 floor joists. New landscaping includes three patios, with views of the historic Fort Yamhill Blockhouse and Courthouse Square Park across the street. Artwork on the walls features scenes from local Dayton-area farms. Noted Portland preservation architect Paul M. Falsetto oversaw the project.
A number of other downtown Dayton buildings have been made more attractive in recent years. Many of the recent renovation efforts were inspired by a set of design plans from professionals with the State Historic Preservation Office, who met with building owners in 2010 after the Dayton Community Development Association (DCDA) contacted SHPO for assistance. SHPO staff presented a set of recommendations for facade improvements in July 2010. Over the past four years, seven downtown buildings have undergone facade improvements and renovations, including the civic addition of the new Palmer Creek Lodge Community Center when the City of Dayton purchased and renovated the Palmer Creek Lodge Masonic Temple on Fourth Street with the help of an $800,000 federal CDBG grant. Other civic improvements include the recently completed renovation of the historic Blockhouse and bandstand in Courthouse Square Park and the installation of new, wider sidewalks and new street trees downtown. The historic fountain in the park is currently undergoing rehabilitation as well. This partnership of public and private investment and the downtown revitalization efforts of the nonprofit Dayton Community Development Association are helping to make downtown Dayton into a great place to invest, live, work and play!