September 2011

Felling the Faust Building

As the brick and mortar remains of the building informally known as “The Faust” are hauled away from the former corner of Perry and Washington Streets, Chaminade Julienne turns the page on another chapter of its Campus Master Plan, making way for future developments to accompany Blue Green Field, the Student Conditioning Center, and the Eagle Tennis Center—the school’s latest addition which is slated to open September 15.

The building, just east of the historic property on Franklin and Ludlow Streets, has meant many things to many people in the years since CJ administrators acquired it in 1988.  Ask a former student, coach or parent about “The Faust” in its infancy and hear stories of a multi-purpose, indoor facility located conveniently near the school building. Ask a current junior, senior, or recent CJ graduate, and you may hear a (usually exaggerated) vignette about the time he or she spent in a dilapidated, although nostalgically familiar, warehouse.

But, according to Dan Meixner, president, history ought to remember “The Faust” as the impetus for the movement to expand the school’s on-campus facilities in the surrounding downtown Dayton area. “It was a great transitional building for us," he explained. "It served as CJ’s first auxiliary indoor athletic facility, and it was our first outpost of campus expansion.

“The athletes, coaches, administrators, students and parents who used and took care of that place for almost 25 years can truly be considered the pioneers of our campus development,” Meixner lauded.

After purchasing the building from then owner and Dayton native Ermal Fraze (the famous inventor of the aluminum can pop top whose name now dons the internationally known Fraze Pavillion in Kettering), CJ more than took advantage of all the available space it had to offer. In its day, "The Faust" hosted retreats, seminars and team practices for thousands of students (more than 60 student-athletes who used its amenities would later compete at the college level); it functioned as a storage area, and later garaged CJ school buses; it was the home of a school uniform shop; and at times, rooms were partially rented out to local businesses.

Brett Chmiel, ’02, admissions coordinator, fondly remembered the facility for its quirky character and the unique features it offered he and his teammates as members of CJ football, wrestling and track teams.

“There was a jukebox in the weight room from the 1980’s, and I can remember we used to listen to the same 20 songs from the ‘80’s everyday while we worked out,” Chmiel reminisced.

Ironically, the building’s nickname can be traced back to its weight room. While never officially given a name, it was first known as The Fraze Building until Ron Hemelgarn, ’65, donor of the weight and conditioning equipment, named the weight room in memory of CJ Athletic Hall-of-Famer Gerard “Fuzzy” Faust.

Faust was Chaminade's head football coach for 21 seasons from 1933 to the mid 1950’s, compiling 13 City League Championships and a 123-49-10 record. The name stuck with students, and the entire facility became colloquially known as “The Faust.”

In 2010, when the Student Conditiong Center was being built, students could be heard attempting to coin it “The New Faust.” That nickname did not stick, but what stayed true was Hemelgarn's continued commitment supporting CJ students. The 1965 CHS alumnus also outfitted the new indoor training center on Eaker with $125,000 worth of fitness equipment to fill its 3,350 square foot weight room.

“If not for the brave visionaries who were bold enough to cross Perry Street, Chaminade Julienne’s campus may never have transformed into the 15 acre, multi-facility landmark of downtown—spanning nearly four city blocks—that it is today,” Meixner said.

This year, the site will be used for student parking and event parking in the evenings. In the future, CJ plans to seed and link the land with Blue Green Field to form a second full practice field for athletics, gym classes and community events.