Ohio Icon: Dodds Monuments

Dodds Monuments, Xenia (Photo by Damaine Vonada)

Location: Downtown Xenia, about one block from the Greene County Courthouse.

Provenance: Brothers George and Andrew Dodds, both of whom were stonemasons and immigrants from Scotland, started making memorials in Yellow Springs in 1859. Five years later, they relocated to a building on West Main Street in the railroad hub of Xenia. It’s now one of the nation’s largest monument companies.

“At the turn of the 20th century, the company owned three quarries in New England, and besides the main office in Xenia, it had offices in New York City, Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis,” says Neil Fogarty, current Dodds Monuments president. “The New York office was across the street from Grand Central Station.”

After the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Dodds family used lumber and other materials from the exposition’s dismantled pavilions to construct a new building on the site of their original Xenia location. The handsome structure, which still serves as the company’s headquarters, is clad in sturdy Indiana limestone and adorned by marble Corinthian columns. A downtown landmark since 1906, it even survived Xenia’s 1974 tornado — the only building left standing on West Main Street.

Then-office manager C.A. Bone purchased the company in the 1930s, and Bone family members operated it until 1984, when Fogarty’s parents, Eric and Becky Fogarty, bought it. “Only three families have run this business in its 153-year history,” Fogarty says. “I like to think George Dodds would be happy we’ve stayed true to his personal way of doing things.”

Significance: Dodds Monuments is the oldest continuous business in Greene County, and one of the oldest in Ohio. Known for exceptional workmanship and for using the best grades of granite, it’s also among the oldest and most respected companies in the U.S. monument-building industry. “Many families have been coming here for generations,” Fogarty says.

Currently: Although Dodds Monuments has opened seven branches in the Dayton-Cincinnati area, its corporate offices, engraving plant, and main showroom have remained rooted in downtown Xenia. Several years ago, the Fogarty family obtained six stained-glass windows that had once graced a chapel at present-day Bergamo Center near Dayton. “The windows were ordered in 1913 from the F.X. Zettler Royal Bavarian glassworks in Munich,” says Fogarty. “Because World War I started, they had to be smuggled into neutral Belgium and then were shipped down the St. Lawrence River.” Now cleaned, restored, and illuminated night and day, the magnificent windows are on display in custom-made frames at the Xenia showroom.

It’s a little-known fact that: Granite from Dodds-owned quarries was used to build Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island and the McKinley Memorial in Canton.