EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. This is the fifth of a series of articles dealing with the history of Findlay’s Riverside Park.
By R.L. HEMINGER
In the mid-1920s, the city of Findlay began to look favorably upon construction of an up-to-date and modern dance pavilion at Riverside Park. There was an old ice house along the river close to the dam at the park and this site was viewed as a likely location for such a pavilion. The frame ice house had been utilized for many years for storage of ice taken from the Blanchard River for Findlay’s summer use. The structure, however, was in bad condition and ought to come down, city officials figured.
The ice house property belonged to William J. Altmeyer, of the Kranz brewery. Officials began to negotiate with him for the purchase of the property, offering him $500. However, he wanted $3,000. Altmeyer told the officials he had been made an attractive offer for the property by private parties which had in mind a park attraction of the same kind.
In the meantime, in the fall of 1924, the city decided to go ahead and build a new dance pavilion within the park. The dimensions were set at 160 by 120 feet. It was planned to enter into a contract whereby someone would build a $20,000 frame structure, operate it for 15 years, and then turn it over to the city. Council approved the idea.
The matter ran into legal complications however, and the procedure was ruled unconstitutional and contrary to public policy, by common pleas court.
A new blow then struck city officials. The state condemned the old dance pavilion as unsafe. The majority of its frame supports were declared to have been affected by dry rot and a great number of joints were called defective and beyond repair. The pavilion was ordered closed by the state. This was early in March 1925.
The dance pavilion matter turned a new turn swiftly, however. City council on March 17, 1925, accepted without a dissenting vote, a new offer made by Altmeyer, who in addition to his brewing interests also owned the Altmeyer Hotel in Findlay. He agreed to supply Findlay with a new dance pavilion, agreeing to build a pavilion on the two acres he owned adjoining the park where the old ice house had stood. He consented to turn the building and land over to the city for $750 a year for 10 years, with the right reserved to operate the pavilion during that period.
R. Burton Child, Findlay contractor, was given the contract to build the pavilion, which was estimated to cost around $20,000. The building was to be constructed of steel, measuring 120 by 160 in dimensions. “The Green Mill” name was given to the property.
Charles Flemion, who served as manager of the old dance pavilion for a few years, was announced as the individual who would have charge for Altmeyer.
The new pavilion was built along the lines of a like structure at Russell’s Point on Indian Lake.
“Flemion said there would be 7,200 square feet of floor space, all hard wood,” said the Morning Republican on May 13, 1925. “On top of the building, a 35-foot derrick will be constructed for the purpose of carrying out the ‘mill’ idea. The ‘Green Mill’ will be lighted in different colors at night and will be visible for quite some distance.”
The new pavilion opened June 11, 1925. Dedicatory ceremonies were conducted with R. Clint Cole, former 8th Ohio District member of Congress, as the speaker. With him on the program were Findlay’s mayor, E.L. Groves, W. Ray Rowland and the Elks quartet.
On the night of June 16, the mill atop the structure was placed in operation for the first time.
“It was a beautiful sight and could be plainly seen for a long distance,” said the Republican. “Above the mill, which was illuminated with 93 electric bulbs of 60-candle power each, waved an American flag from the staff. The mill makes 15 revolutions a minute. The top is 70 feet from the ground.”
On Oct. 19, 1925, Altmeyer turned over to the city the deed for the property, covering around 11.25 acres of land.
In 1929, the Green Mill took over the Hill Crest dancing gardens on the Findlay-Carey highway. The new acquisition was to be conducted under the name of the “Green Mill Gardens Annex.” It was open only on Sunday evenings.
At the end of the 10-year period covered by the Altmeyer contract, sealed bids were received by the city for the continued operation of the Green Mill. The highest bid was for $800 and it was submitted by Arlo Mains, an employee of Charles Flemion. The other bid was from E.S. Weimer for $775.
Many famous orchestras have played at the Green Mill as its operation continued through the years.
The property has been under various leases through the years. The present lease belongs to Allen Spayth. It runs until April 1973. There is discussion currently regarding future plans generally for the property, which is now used for roller skating.