You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Former Crowell-Collier building owner dies

Denune, who fought city hall for years, remembered by Hartley for his good deeds.

Harry C. Denune, a local businessman who owned the massive Crowell-Collier Building for more than 40 years, died on Tuesday in Gainesville, Fla., at the age of 90.

A service is planned at 2 p.m. today at the First Advent Christian Church in Lake City, Fla.

Denune purchased the Crowell-Collier building in 1972, nearly two decades after the publishing business closed in 1956. Over the years, two fires broke out there and the city repeatedly padlocked the building and declared it unsafe after inspections found code violations.

He and his company, Dixie Distributing Co., a wholesale motorcycle parts supplier he operated for 62 years, also at one time owned several large industrial buildings in Springfield.

Denune was born in Columbus, where he graduated from Ohio State University with an accounting degree. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946.

Clark County Commissioner David Hartley, who worked for Denune over the years, called him “a true friend of the Springfield and Clark County community.”

Hartley said when he served as Interfaith Hospitality Network’s executive director, Denune would volunteer his time and do “whatever I needed.”

“He did so much that so few know about,” Hartley said.

Shannon Meadows, the city’s community development director, said despite their differing opinions on property maintenance, Denune was always a gentleman.

“No one would ever question his gentleman-like personality,” Meadows said. “He was just a very polished person when it came to his personal interaction with me or any of my staff. He was a unique individual. I send my condolences to his family.”

Denune fought the city and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for years over allegations concerning both the condition of his buildings and the contents inside.

Denune owned several buildings in Springfield, including the old Kelsey-Hays factory, 1205 W. Columbia St., and the former Sears building, 21-29 E. High St.

In 2002, the city razed the former Leffel plant that Denune’s PALCO Investment Co. owned on East Street. Denune contested the ordered demolition for years, appealing the case to the Ohio Supreme Court and federal district courts. The case is still ongoing and will continue to be pursued by the city, according to Springfield law director Jerry Strozdas.

The city also fought with Denune over the conditions at the Crowell-Collier Building since 1999, when a massive fire engulfed the structure. Loose bricks fell from the structure in 2009, while another fire broke out at the padlocked building in 2011.

The building was sold to Mosier Industrial Services in October of 2011 for $1.5 million, although Denune still had inventory from his motorcycle business left inside. Mosier also purchased the former Cooper Energy site on Sheridan Avenue, which Denune had owned.

In 1988, the Ohio EPA said Denune was moving trailers with transformers and other hazardous materials. He was convicted in 1991 on illegal transportation and seven other offenses regarding the hazardous waste, but the conviction was overturned in 1992 by a state appellate court because the EPA illegally entered one of the trailers.

Denune turned 90 in December, and Hartley went to Florida to visit him.

“I’m so glad I visited him,” Hartley said. “It’s very sad for me.”

“He was a great guy and a great person for this community,” Hartley said.

According to his obituary, donations can be made to Florida Sheriff Youth Ranches Inc., P.O. Box 2000, Boys Ranch, Florida 32064.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Cervical cancer death rate higher than experts thought – especially for black women
Cervical cancer death rate higher than experts thought – especially for black women

A new study says the death rate from cervical cancer in the United States is higher than experts thought – particularly for black women. The medical journal Cancer on Monday published the study, which said the rate black American women are dying from the disease is akin to that of women in many poor developing nations...
Wet morning commute, winter weather returns
Wet morning commute, winter weather returns

A stray shower or two and some drizzle are expected early this morning as moisture from the backside of our storm system still keeps clouds and moisture around. Some drizzle or patchy fog early  Rain showers Wednesday  Scattered light snow and cold the rest of week TODAY: Some dry air works in for the day. Clouds will break into the evening...
Woman accused of slashing Trump sign in Florida for 'ruining her chill'
Woman accused of slashing Trump sign in Florida for 'ruining her chill'

A woman from California was arrested Friday in the Florida Keys when business owners accused her of slashing a vinyl Donald Trump sign with a knife and threatening them.
Trump proclaims his Inauguration Day a National Day of Patriotic Devotion
Trump proclaims his Inauguration Day a National Day of Patriotic Devotion

President Donald Trump is naming Jan. 20, 2017 – his Inauguration Day – a National Day of Patriotic Devotion.
'Saturday Night Live' writer suspended for Barron Trump tweet
'Saturday Night Live' writer suspended for Barron Trump tweet

Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on one thing about criticizing the President Donald Trump's family: Leave the kids out of it. That especially goes for Barron Trump, who is 10 years old.  Last week, a writer from “Saturday Night Live” joked that Barron would kill his family. Now, NBC has announced consequences for Katie...
More Stories