Trust for Architectural Easements Presents Online Tour of the Oregon Historic District in Dayton, Ohio

Washington, DC, September 22, 2011 --( The Trust for Architectural Easements is proud to present an online tour of Oregon Historic District in Dayton, Ohio. The multimedia tour can be found on the Trust's website.

Nicknamed the “Gem City,” Dayton, Ohio, garners national recognition from its association with its most famous native sons—Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright Brothers were not only born in Dayton, but also grew up, lived, and worked there for most of their lives. As the accomplishments of these men and many other less famous citizens reflect, Dayton has had a rich history in innovation and creativity. With the construction of the Miami and Erie Canal in the 1830s, Dayton grew in wealth, people, and reputation. By 1870, Dayton ranked fifth in the nation, and in 1890, it ranked first in the number of federally-granted patents.

Through the efforts of preservationists, architects, historians, and interested citizens, Dayton maintains multiple properties recognized by the National Park Service or listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, ten historic districts, a carillon, cemeteries, and several National Historic Landmarks—including the Wright Flyer III, the only airplane to carry such a title.

The innovation-related growth of the city from the construction of the Miami and Erie Canal in the 1830s to the devastating, widespread destruction of the Great Flood of 1913, is perhaps best seen in Dayton’s oldest and first National Register District—the Oregon Historic District, listed in 1974.

A leisurely stroll through the tree-lined streets of Dayton’s Oregon District is like walking within a living timeline of Dayton’s social and economic development between 1830 and 1905. Though the provenance of the district’s name is not known with certainty, its character is unmistakable.

With a 75-year period of significance, the Oregon District is not noted for one style of architecture, but rather its incredible collection of several styles and decorative details. The most notable styles include Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne, with common details such as American-bond brick work, and metalwork and iron fencing from the local manufacturers McHose and Lyon Dayton Architectural Iron Works.

Though the land was divided and partially settled in the first decades of the 19th century, the development of the Miami and Erie Canal brought German immigrants to this area east of the canal and within blocks of the city’s downtown. These newcomers created a community abuzz with people and commerce. From the more humble beginnings in the 1830s through the early years of the twentieth century, Oregon District residents prospered—and the historic architecture reflects the changes.

Tecumseh Street, near the district’s west boundary, features some of the best examples of Dayton’s early-19th century residential architecture. Unpretentious two-story brick Federal and Greek Revival detached houses illustrate the modest lifestyles of the earliest residents. Hitching posts recall the days of simpler transportation. Tobacco dealer Salvatore Schaeffer built his brick house at 24 Tecumseh in 1842, with uniquely narrow 1/1 windows and a simple entablature door surround with a recessed transom.

In addition to these commercial and residential buildings, the Oregon District has four churches, all with ties to its historically German community. Perhaps the most recognizable is St. Paul’s Lutheran, located on Wayne Avenue, near Jackson Street. The congregation formed in 1852, and the church was constructed in 1869. In 1883, the distinctive spire and three bells were added, followed in 1909 by the stucco finish on the exterior walls. Together with the tall spire, the pointed arch art glass windows and the decorative frieze work emphasize the verticality of the structure, anchoring the building as an imposing landmark at the district’s eastern boundary.

The prosperity that marked the late-19th-century declined following the Great Flood of 1913, during which the Oregon District was submerged ten feet underwater. Deaths and upheaval resulting from the Great Depression and the World Wars further weakened the neighborhood. In the late-1960s, Bertrand-Goldberg and Associates proposed the preservation of much of the area’s historic stock. Local professionals and residents made efforts to recognize and preserve the unique and varied character of the Oregon District, first with its listing in the Dayton city register in 1972, then with its inclusion in the National Register in 1974. The recognition of its historical integrity prompted a revived interest in the area that has lasted for decades. In the 21st century, the Oregon District remains one of Dayton’s most cherished neighborhoods.

Due to the world-changing work of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Dayton, Ohio, became a place of innovation and creativity, attracting people and business to the area. While the city works to maintain the more famous legacies, it also recognizes the lesser-known events and people, preserving neighborhoods that can prosper in the future as they reflect the developments of the past.

Trust for Architectural Easements
Heather Bratland