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Dean Block - New Castle PA

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The six-story Dean Block building, owned by prominent local grocer and civic leader Jacob J. Dean (1852-1925), was erected on Croton Avenue during 1901-1902. The New Castle Business College occupied the top floor beginning in January 1902, while several small business offices and residential apartments occupied the lower levels. The New Castle Business College eventually took over most of the building until the school moved to a small campus in the North Hill District in early 1958. The building was soon converted into a low-rent housing complex known as the Dean Block Apartments. Over time the building grew neglected and dilapidated. It was eventually abandoned and boarded up by early 1984. (c1908) Full Size

Local developer James Gabriel acquired the site for $350 in April 1988, although the building was pending demolition. The city used a state grant of $37,999 to demolish the aging structure in March-April 1989. The acceptance of the state grant hampered future redevelopment, because the property now fell under strict rules imposed by state historical officials. A nasty fight also ensued in the City Council over whether the property should be subjected to a lien (against Gabriel) for the value of the demolition ($37,999). The City Rescue Mission explored the idea purchasing the site but the strict redevelopment restrictions and lien issue ended this initiative. Finally, in July 1990, the site was donated to the New Visions of New Castle, a non-profit group who planned to establish a park at the location. When Millennium Park was dedicated in September 2000 the property was turned back over to the city. (c1915) Full Size

The old Dean Block on Croton Avenue was torn down beginning on March 29, 1989. The demolition lasted a few weeks. The city used state funds for the demolition, which cost $37,999, and the site was subjected to strict guidelines in regard to rebuilding. In fact, this ended all attempts to rebuild and the site later became home to a small park. (1989) Full Size


  1. I can recall 2 businesses on the 1st floor, C W Smith Realty and Jane Kamerer Music Studio. I took guitar lessons there in the early 40s.


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