A scene from the 1985 Belmont Community Days parade. DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Belmont Historical Society to publish book about neighborhood

Did you know that the Belmont area of Dayton used to have a drive-in theater, a toy store and a Burger Chef?

Many people don’t know, which is why the Belmont Historical Society is working on a book for all those history buffs in Belmont.

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The book has gone through an evolution. It was started in 1997 and it took the writers 10 years to finish their sections. Only half of the sections were finished and an unfinished product was created. Four years ago, a new group took over the book and have been trying to get it done.

“We have bins and bins of artifacts and history and photos. We are starting the book from the beginning when the Shakers came to the area. We are going all through time,” said Reggie Swickard, vice president of the The Belmont Eastmont Hearthstone Community Council (BEHCC).

 

All the photos and sections have been curated and sent to a writer to put it together. Swickard said she hopes the book will come out in a year.

“We have a picture from the 1850s of a swan on the lake at Dayton Hospice. It’s all pixelated and it’s a horrible shot, but it’s cool. It’s interesting,” Swickard said.

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The Belmont community, which has been experiencing a business boom, is incredibly interested in getting copies of the book. Swickard said that the historical society said it would print 50 copies, but the response was massive.

“People are excited. We decided to make 50 copies of the book and see what happened and some people wanted five books,” she said.

Belmont Community Days photographed in 1989. Pictured are the Belmont Little Prince and Princesses. From left to right are Sara Weglage, Bryan Weglage, Erica Hamilton, and Brandon Kinton. DAYTON DAILY NEWS / WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Up until 1929, Belmont was its own city separate from the City of Dayton. Belmont had its own police and fire departments. The book is going to celebrate those early times up to the present and will include lots of old photos.

“There’s a shot of the corner of Watervliet and Smithville where the gun store is now. It used to be a toy store,” said Brian Petro, treasurer of the BEHCC.

Swickard said that before the toy store, there was a drug store in its place. These are just some of the interesting insights that will be featured in the book.

Unfortunately, the Belmont Historical Society will be disbanded after the book comes out. The group hopes this will be a great sendoff. They also plan to put the book on Amazon.

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“The historical society has the money to publish the book. We will close the historical society at that point and any profits from the book will be put into Belmont schools somehow,” Swickard said.

To get a copy of the book, just follow the Belmont Historical Society on Facebook. There are already a few photos on the page. The BEHCC and the Belmont Business Association will also be able to get residents a copy of the book.

Swickard and Petro hope the book will help bring the community together, as well as the upcoming Belmont Days event on Saturday, June 29.

“It’s a really close community, and not just socially. We can walk to most places. It’s a walkable neighborhood. Great things like this are happening,” Petro said.

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