Nonprofit looks to purchase Dayton's historic hall

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DAYTON -- Time is running out to purchase Dayton's historic Odeon Hall, and organizers of a grass-roots effort have only managed to raise a fraction of the price.

Do-Mor for Dayton, a nonprofit organization, has six months left to purchase the building.

The organization, made of about 45 local businesspeople and residents, was given 18 months to raise $675,000 to purchase the building from owners Mia and Max Kuerzi. The Kuerzis have owned the building for more than 15 years and have spent nearly $300,000 on its restoration, Mia Kuerzi said.

Mia's Swiss Restaurant remains open while the effort continues.

Do-Mor for Dayton wants to turn the restaurant into a cultural and community center. So far, members have raised nearly $5,000 through local fund-raisers and are applying for grants to purchase the hall.

Built in 1863, Odeon Hall was a concert hall and a saloon. It once served as a warehouse for railroad artifacts and, in 1960, provided part of the backdrop for John Huston's movie, "The Misfits,' starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

In March, the Nevada Legislature heard Do-Mor for Dayton's request for the $675,000. It was referred to a finance committee, but it isn't likely to come up in the Legislature's special session.

"We are sitting and waiting for SB 380 to pass," said Camille Meggerson, secretary-treasurer of Do-Mor for Dayton. "We don't think we will get anything, but it is worth a try."

Meggerson said the building will accomodate melodramas, concerts, art classes and shows. The bar will be converted into a old-fashioned ice cream parlor, run by high school students serving mandatory community service hours. There will also be a meeting room for county commissioners or any other organization that needs a meeting facility, Meggerson added.

The problem is, no government organization will grant money toward the restoration of a building unless it is owned by the applicant, she said.

"We need to go for more grants from private entities, but since the economy is in such a bad state, this has been difficult to achieve," Meggerson said."We have already been trying for a year. We will just keep struggling and hope that no one wants to buy it. But, we are no closer than when we started."

State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James said the Commission for Cultural Affairs agreed that Do-Mor for Dayton's request was premature because they did not own the building.

Some Dayton residents say a cultural center would be more beneficial for the community than a restaurant.

"A cultural center can only help Dayton," Dayton High School teacher Chuck Ayers said. "Virginia City did it, and it worked. We just have to find the culture."

To help:

What: Raffle tickets for a 2002 Fleetwood Outfitter cabover camper through Do-Mor for Dayton.

Cost: $5 per ticket or $20 for five.

Tickets: Purchase Dayton's Compadres, Old Fogy's Saloon, Mia's Swiss Restaurant, A.C. Gifts, the Wildhorse and Gold Canyon Steak House.

Call: 246-8080


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