Walking Along With Dayton’s Historical Greats
Sometimes when you grow up some place and take the same field trips year in and year out to the same historical or well known places in the area, you grow up and never look back.
“Yeah yeah yeah, been there, done that,” you’ll say when a friend or relative suggests visiting again as you get older. As we grow, we pick up on different aspects and appreciate learning about different parts of history though. The art teacher on the field trip will focus students’ attention on the colors of the portrait. The history teacher on the field trip will train everyone’s eyes on the face and weave tales of the man or woman that was painted. The English teacher will ask everyone to write about what they saw and how they felt. A visit to a historic site could be completely different depending on who is the guide and what they’re interested in or what they deem important. One event in history can seem varied depending on whose perspective we look at afterall. With that in mind, I headed to Carillon Historical Park. A park less than 5 minutes from the house I grew up in that I probably haven’t visited in about two decades.
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Carillon Historical Park is a 65 acre site where a number of historical buildings from around the greater Dayton area have been relocated.
The highlight of the park is the Deeds Carillon which towers 151 feet over everything else in the area and houses 57 bells that can be heard ringing daily. But that is just what welcomes visitors to the park.
Daytonians are extremely proud of the inovators, inventions and history of the area and boy do we (Daytonian right here) have a right to be. The Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing & Entrepreneuriship Buildings welcomes visitors in to learn about the history inside before exiting to see more. Homegrown companies and shops abounded at one time and while many larger manufacturers have left in recent decades, it seems that Daytonians are at it again getting back to our roots producing amazing locally sourced products… but I’ll get to that later.
The first space of the building houses 90 exquisitely decorated and beautiful Dayton-made cash registers and touch screens which provide information on each. At the turn of the century, Dayton actually had more patents per capita than any other US city and one-sixth of the country’s corporate executives had all spent some time working at Dayton’s National Cash Register (NCR). Visitors can learn more about the history of the area and what was invented and produced in the animatronic theater. NCR along with Barney&Smith Car Company, McCall’s Publishing, DELCO, the Wright Company and the Huffy Corporation all called Dayton, Ohio home and pushed the nation forward in terms of innovative ideas and inventions. With John H. Patterson, Orville & Wilbur Wright, Charles F. Kettering and Colonel Edward A. Deeds leading the way, the city was the center of innovation from the Civil War up until the Cold War era. If you don’t recognize any of these names, Google them and you’ll definitely recognize what these companies and men invented and produced.
The hand-carved carousel named the “Carousel of Dayton Innovation” is spectacular and a bit different than most as it not only has the requisite carousel horses and buggies to sit on and in but it also features one-of-a-kind characters like Orville Wright’s dog, a Mike-sell’s potato chip bag and a Dayton soap box derby car among other unique objects from Dayton’s history to ride on. Oh, did I mention, this is not just for the eyes? It is in working condition too and since it’s inside can be enjoyed in any season.
Are you heading to Dayton, Ohio for a visit or a layover? Stay downtown at the Crowne Plaza Hotel or The Hotel Dayton or stay in a nearby area at the Hotel Garden Inn for a great stay.
After taking a ride on the carousel, there are doors leading outside to a paved path that leads past some of the historic buildings that have been relocated to the park. Locus Grove School No. 12 reminds everyone of how people used to study in one room school houses with children from first to eighth grade. Since all grades were represented, teachers had to be strict and often paddled misbehaving children, the sign explains to likely gobsmacked children who have never seen a teacher acting in such a way. This school house was used between 1896 and 1929 at the corner of Possum and Bird Roads in Springfield, Ohio.
Did You Know: Many famous Ohioans taught in one-room school houses included inventor Charles Kettering, Edward Deeds, John Patterson (NCR founder) and three US Presidents including Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield & Warren G. Harding.
The Newcom Tavern, which George Newcom paid Robert Edgar 75 cents a day to build “the best house in Dayton” sits on the grounds too. After it was built, Edgar gave Newcom one deer a week for room and board in the tavern. The Newcom family were among the first settlers in the area arriving in 1796. The building was originally built between 1796 and 1799 and stood on Main Street and Water Street in downtown Dayton.
Did You Know: This is the oldest standing building in the area and not only could people have a meal and stay in the abode, but this building also served as Dayton’s first jailhouse, church, general store and Montgomery County’s first court house. Sort of an all-purpose building, wasn’t it?
The Newcom House which is also in the park stands out with the striking white and the Greek Revival style architecture. This house was built around 1841 on Sherman Street in East Dayton. Greek Revival architecture was popular in the States from 1825 to 1860.
Did You Know: Greek Revival architecture was popular in the States because Americans recognized Greece as the birthplace of democracy and appreciated Greece’s own struggle for independence in the 1820s.
The Print Shop in the park was built in the 1930s and has period equipment all around that is in working condition. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when they’re showing how everything works and you can even get your very own printed postcard with your name on it. This comes from a time when Dayton was the home to 77 printing companies.
There are numerous gorgeous buildings to see and they’re all open to allow people to walk inside and see what they would have looked like and what they would have housed in their heyday. From the Callahan Building Clock which tours high at 35 feet with an additional 15 foot spire that once sat on top of the Gem City Savings Building on Third and Main Street in Dayton after being relocated from the Callahan building and then was later relocated to the Reynolds and Reynolds Building to the Smith Covered Bridge built in 1870 by Robert W. Smith and spanned the Little Sugar Creek on Feedwire Road, the history is immense and is a must see and a must learn for anyone living in Dayton or even just visiting.
The relics in the park will cause parents and grandparents to begin recounting stories of when they were young and walked miles to school or saw the clock atop of buildings downtown. Roz Young, former Dayton journalist has tales and tales of the area and the story on the clock is very interesting if you’ve got some time for a quick read.
Probably one of the most popular and Dayton-pride areas of the park regards the area’s homegrown Wright Brothers.
The John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center tells the story of the Wright brothers and even showcases their original 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. The National Historical Landmark was relocated and rebuilt under the watchful eye of Orville Wright himself and a guide positioned in the building near the original plane shares knowledge on the piece and how it came to be here. This is the best place in town to begin to learn about these amazing brothers that once called Dayton home.
The Carillon Historical Park is a gorgeous area to see and learn about Dayton’s history and the guides in the shops re-enacting and providing info are amazingly knowledgable and show off our area’s proud history spectacularly.
Carillon Historical Park
Address: 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton, Ohio 45409 USA
Hours: Monday ~ Saturday: 9:30am – 5:00pm; Sunday: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Closed: January 1, Thanksgiving Day, December 24-25 & 31
Admission: $8 per adult (ages 18–59), $7 per senior, $5 per child (3–17) & students, Children under 3 and Dayton History members are FREE