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A piece of local history torn down

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I was a little sad to hear the City of Dayton and/or the Dayton International Airport had decided to demolish the former headquarters building for the Amateur Trapshooting Association.

I realize the era ended when the ATA moved its annual Grand American Trapshooting Tournament out of Vandalia after 81 years there and relocated it to Sparta, Ill. in 2006. The airport (which was built after the trapshooting grounds) wanted the ATA out and the city and county did nothing to stop the eviction. The state did next to nothing.

I realize that as you read this column, the wrecking ball has already come crashing down on the historic ATA building, located at 601 West National Road. And that is a shame. I had hoped the city would find some use for the building, even though it is no longer used for anything connected with trapshooting. The ATA offices moved out a couple of years ago and the Trapshooting Hall of Fame followed a short time later.

But if you ever happened to view the small plaque at the foot flagpole in front of the building you would have seen the names of the people who built the ATA headquarters in 1923 … names like Cox, Huffman, Patterson and Kettering, among others. In case those making the city’s decisions these days haven’t checked their city’s history lately, those names belong to James M. Cox (newspapers and twice Ohio governor), Frederick B. Patterson (NCR), Col. Frank Huffman (Huffy) and Charles F. Kettering, the automotive pioneer for whom the city of Kettering is named.

Those men were proud of the new home they built for the nation’s trapshooters and the vision they had to help the area prosper. (The Grand American’s economic impact was estimated to be more than $10 million annually in its final years.) They probably couldn’t envision there would be a day when someone would tear it down without a thought or regret.

Fortunately, the ATA preserved the plaque and put it in a place where it can be viewed forever … in a special display in Sparta with the flagpole and brick gateway from the old Vandalia headquarters.

Perhaps it would be even better suited for a Dayton museum.

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