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Excerpted from A Sense of Community Copyright © 1996 Centerville Historical Society The Monkey House—a hexagonal, two-story wooden building—was built by Edwin Earl Miller about 1930. Miller had seen monkeys displayed in Florida to attract customers to retail stores. Since he had just opened a general store near the northeast corner of Whipp Road and State Route 48 in December of 1928, he decided to house monkeys, 17 of them, in an unusual building in order to attract attention to his store. It was a clever promotion as customers drove down from Oakwood and what is now Kettering in ever-increasing numbers. Earl Miller, in his white apron and red bow tie and ever-expanding variety of merchandise, became a wellknown character. The hexagonal building housing the monkeys became a landmark and was always called the “Monkey House.” Originally it was located on the east side of State Route 48 near Miller’s general store called “Maplvale.” The first monkeys did not fare well and most died. A smaller hexagonal building about nine feet wide was built later for the monkeys and the cages were still there when Miller’s belongings were auctioned in 1985; the monkeys had long since died. The original two-story Monkey House, with a cupola on top, was moved across the highway near some motel cottages, a home, and several small buildings Miller had added to his land along State Route 48. Miller’s success at attracting customers with his monkeys earned him the nickname, “Monkey Miller,” which he did not always appreciate. His store carried an amazing variety of things gathered during trips and at auctions he attended throughout the United States and Cuba. He worked in his store with his wife, Dorothy, until, at 91 years of age, a fall put him in a nursing home. In 1938, during the Depression, an African-American named Noah Johnson asked Miller for a job. He was hired and worked at Maplvale for 39 years until his death in 1977. “Noy,” as most people called him, asked Miller if he could fix up the second floor of the Monkey House with a kitchen and bath and live there. So the Monkey House became home to Noah Johnson. Later, Noah moved to Dayton when the Monkey House became unsuitable quarters for an old man. When State Route 48 was widened in 1961, the Monkey House was moved 200 feet back from the road. At Miller’s death in 1985, the Monkey House was slated to be burned by the Fire Department to make way for commercial development. By this time, Miller’s real estate had become quite valuable. The Centerville Historical Society, many local citizens, and people, who as children remembered visiting the old country store and the Monkey House, expressed an interest in saving the old landmark. Dorothy Miller agreed to donate the building to the city and a local drive, chaired by Janet Thobaben, raised money to move it to Leonard Stubbs Memorial Park on Spring Valley Road. The City Council budgeted funds for the building’s foundation and structural renovation. Local philanthropist Tom Stolz arranged the actual move to the new site and oversaw the renovation. Workers sawed the Monkey House into three parts to facilitate the move. Since April 1985, the Earl Miller Monkey House at the entrance to Stubbs Park has continued to attract attention with its unique architecture and history. It reminds us of a unique individual who ran a country store for over 60 years. Earl Miller was an innovative entrepreneur well known by Dayton, Oakwood, and Kettering residents, as well as those living in the area.