The eight floor Dayton Hotel was built to be the premier hotel in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and opened for business on June 20, 1925. Its builder and first owner was Jacob Gottlieb, a local resident and established businessman. He had previously attended Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago and had hoped to enlist for WWI. Unfortunately, he was not accepted due to poor eyesight, but his patriotism ran deep, and he later named the hotel after his friend Captain Edward Dayton (Company M., 4th Infantry Regiment, WI Army National Guard). It operated as a hotel for forty years, and is rumored to have hosted top names of its day - from the Three Stooges, to John F. Kennedy, to Martin Luther King, Jr. It also served as one of Kenosha’s air raid shelters during WWII, building upon its prior military connections.
After a few ownership transitions, the Dayton began the change to single-room occupancy in 1965 and had fully become a Community-Based Residential Facility by 1974 (CBRF). It began housing military veterans during this time, many dealing with mental health issues following their service. The Dayton stood through the economic lows in downtown Kenosha as the auto industry relocated elsewhere. In the 1990’s, Second Lady Tipper Gore began national campaigning to raise awareness on mental health and its many stigmas. This was a turning point for the Dayton, as the community began to take notice and interest in residents with behavioral health issues, reaching out to become even more inclusive of every member of the Kenosha community.
In more recent years, downtown Kenosha has seen significant economic growth and investment in its revitalization. The Dayton Care Center (as it’s now known), was purchased in 2016 by its current owner, Ouri Marciano. It continues to serve both U.S. veterans and many others in our community in need of assisted living, working to improve their ongoing quality of life. Harry H. Dunbar, the first manager of the Hotel Dayton, believed that “a city is known from the outside by its hospitality expressed from within,” which echoes true to this day as the Dayton has evolved. We believe that a strong community is one that shows the warmest hospitality to its every resident and visitor, from the least to the greatest. This is at the core of the Dayton Care Center.
A special thanks to the Kenosha County Historical Society for providing background research for this history.