DAYTON -- Dayton's historic Odeon Hall, now known as Mia's Swiss Restaurant, could become a cultural and community center.
A newly formed nonprofit organization of about 45 local business people and residents known as "Do-Mor for Dayton," is applying for grants to purchase the hall.
Owners Mia and Max Kuerzi are asking $675,000 for the building and fixtures. Camille Meggerson, secretary-treasurer of the organization, said the Kuerzis are receptive to the idea and have given them 18 months to come up with the money.
Built in 1863, Odeon Hall was a concert hall and saloon. It once served as a warehouse for railroad artifacts and, in 1960, provided part of the backdrop for Henry Miller's movie, "The Misfits," starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
Once the transition is complete, the building will serve as a theater, ballroom and meeting room. Concerts can be scheduled upstairs. The fully equipped kitchen for formal fund-raisers and the bar on the first floor can be converted to an ice cream parlor, according to Lee Sommers, the organization's president.
"Once we've purchased the building, we won't have to do any renovations. Mia and Max have treated it with loving care and it's in perfect condition," she said. "We can start using the building as soon as we get the grants."
Located on Highway 50 just east of Carson City, this once-sleepy town boasts a population of about 6,000. The township, which stretches from Mound House on the west to Silver Springs on the east and Silver City to the north, includes about 17,000, with Dayton's downtown district at its historic heart.
"We have young children growing up here and a wonderful base of retired citizens. These are the future patrons of the arts," Sommers said. "We want to keep our youngsters in our town, by giving them something to do with theater productions and musicals. We're also planning an annual Children's Art Festival, where they can sell their artwork."
Acquisition of the building is the second phase of the project. The first involves leasing Dayton's historic fire house and jail, just across the street from Odeon Hall. The fire house will require some renovation, but when completed it will house an open art gallery and exhibits of fire-fighting memorabilia.
"This project is doable now, the goal to remodel the building's interior and bring it up to code without changing its authenticity," Meggerson said. "We've been told our chance of getting grants for Odeon Hall are better if we already have a success story."
Further down the road, the organization would like to add gas lamps and a boardwalk, all to enhance Dayton's historic heritage.
"We are trying to save the cultural legacy of the mining era," Sommers said. "Dayton is the site of the first mining in the state and was a tent city in the early 1840s. The concept represents a positive dream, that will benefit our community through the acquisition of these two important historic buildings."
These efforts have received the full backing of many local organizations including the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the Dayton Historical Society, Dayton Valley Friends of the Library, the Kiwanis and the State Historic Preservation Office.
The Kuerzis sparked controversy in Dayton's historic community when they painted over the old Odeon Hall sign on the side of the building.
Do-Mor for Dayton organizers are in the midst of a membership drive. For more information or to make a donation, contact them by writing to:
Do-Mor for Dayton
P.O. Box 1761
Dayton, NV 89403