Five Questions at the Historic Dayton House
Q: What led to the preservation of the house?
A: The home was built in 1890 as a residence for George Draper Dayton, who moved with his family to Worthington in 1883. Dayton was the president of the Bank of Worthington and the founder of the Minnesota Loan and Investment Company. He was the eventual founder of the Dayton Department Stores, which is now the Target Company.
Historic Worthington Inc., a local non-profit group formed to preserve historic structures, purchased the house for $150,000 in October 2002. The project came out of a neighbor association with $10-per-year annual dues. The volunteer neighbors formed a board hosting picnics and cleanups. An opportunity to reach out to Bruce Dayton led to the eventual project.
Q: Obviously, Dayton left a valuable legacy. How long did he live in Worthington?
A. After arriving in 1880, George Draper Dayton left in 1902 for Minneapolis, but he made a big impact while here. He was involved primarily in banking as well as land development, the lumberyard and mill works. He was chairman of the school board, sponsor of the local YMCA charter, an occasional speaking minister, chairman of the local Board of Trade and much more. That, combined with the house’s grand architecture, made the restoration and preservation an important project.
Q: What are some of the house’s notable architectural features?
A: The house was designed by Wallace Dow, who was later chosen by the state of South Dakota to design its pavilion for the Chicago World's Fair in 1892–1893. The house is described as Georgian Revival with a Victorian influence. There are five fireplaces, as well as oak leaf and sun burst patterns throughout the house. The floors are a blend of cherry, oak cherry and oak parquet wood.
Q: How is the house often used nowadays?
A: Events and celebrations frequently occur at the home. The house hosts multi-day family events. It’s often a tourist stop, and it’s a great place to stay overnight and experience a taste of history in a two- room suite. It’s a great place for family to stay when visiting parents or children.
Q: There’s far too much interesting history for merely five questions. How can one learn more?
A: You can go online to daytonhouse.org for all kinds of information and to request a tour. You can learn more about the house — and the entire county, for that matter — through the Nobles County Historical Society. And Bruce Dayton’s outstanding book, “Man of Parts,” which tells the story of his grandfather, George Draper Dayton, is available at the library or for $25 at the Dayton House.