Listen and learn: Take an audio walking tour of Dayton’s historic neighborhoods

Historic homes, some built in the 19th century, fill the Oregon District neighborhood. Each of Dayton's National Register neighborhoods has its own personality. Architectural styles, vibrant paint colors and a sense of community combine into charming streetscapes. STAFF PHOTO
Historic homes, some built in the 19th century, fill the Oregon District neighborhood. Each of Dayton's National Register neighborhoods has its own personality. Architectural styles, vibrant paint colors and a sense of community combine into charming streetscapes. STAFF PHOTO

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Lace up your walking shoes, put in your earbuds and discover Dayton’s historic districts.

Preservation Dayton, a nonprofit promoting historic preservation, has designed self-guided audio walking tours of 11 of Dayton’s historically zoned neighborhoods.

The Traxler Mansion, located at 42 Yale Ave. in the Dayton View Historic District, is one of the higlights of an audio walking tour developed by Preservation Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF
The Traxler Mansion, located at 42 Yale Ave. in the Dayton View Historic District, is one of the higlights of an audio walking tour developed by Preservation Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Each of the city’s National Register neighborhoods has its own personality. Architectural styles, vibrant paint colors and a sense of community combine into charming streetscapes.

“Every historic district is remarkably intact and you can discover stories about wonderful builders, makers and architects,” said Monica Snow, PDI president. “But more importantly you can learn about how thriving they are and what wonderful places they are to live today.”

Each tour can be accessed with a smart phone and most are designed to take a leisurely 90 minutes. An overview and map of the area is provided on the Preservation Dayton website.

South Park is Dayton's largest historic district. It is located in East Dayton and is made up of  more than 700 structures dating from the mid 1860's. The neighborhood is highlighted on a new Preservation Dayton audio walking tour of Dayton's historic districts. STAFF PHOTO
South Park is Dayton's largest historic district. It is located in East Dayton and is made up of more than 700 structures dating from the mid 1860's. The neighborhood is highlighted on a new Preservation Dayton audio walking tour of Dayton's historic districts. STAFF PHOTO

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Audio recordings provide instructions on where to begin the tour in each neighborhood and detailed and colorful narration for the walk. A written tour – including photos – can also be downloaded and printed out.

The walking tours are filled with details that will delight Dayton history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.

A tour through the Grafton Hill Historic District not only take visitors along a path of English Tudor, Craftsman and Prairie style homes but also to the spot of one of Dayton’s ingenious achievements.

A historical marker on Central Avenue commemorates the site where Col. Edward Deeds and the infamous Barn Gang gathered. Charles Kettering, part of the gang of innovators, developed the electric ignition and self-starter in Deed’s barn revolutionizing the auto industry.

The West Third Street Historic District is featured on a new audio walking tour of Dayton's historic neighborhoods produced by Preservation Dayton. Visitors will learn about some of the architectural and historical features of the commercial area. STAFF PHOTO
The West Third Street Historic District is featured on a new audio walking tour of Dayton's historic neighborhoods produced by Preservation Dayton. Visitors will learn about some of the architectural and historical features of the commercial area. STAFF PHOTO

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

A walk through the Oregon Historic District reveals intricate architectural details in the wrought iron fencing, windows and porches of the homes. In fact, the neighborhood, once comprised of mainly German-speaking immigrants who arrived by canal boat, became the home of many of Dayton’s early prosperous homeowners.

ExploreSculptures set to take flight

The McPherson Town Historic District was one of Dayton’s first suburbs and is known for high style, Folk Victorian and Queen Anne architecture.

Preservation Dayton has designed self-guided audio walking tours of 10 of Dayton’s historically zoned neighborhoods including the McPherson Town Historic District. STAFF PHOTO
Preservation Dayton has designed self-guided audio walking tours of 10 of Dayton’s historically zoned neighborhoods including the McPherson Town Historic District. STAFF PHOTO

Flood water rose to the second floors of the homes in 1913 and today homeowners still find dried “flood mud” in the walls during renovations.

Preservation Dayton ensured the tours were not just about buildings but also about people.

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Visitors to the Wright-Dunbar Village Historic District will learn about Mary Ellington, Dayton attorney Sam Caras and Jerry Sharkey who worked to preserve Dayton’s aviation history and the Wright brothers neighborhood.

“The historic legacy of our architecture is absolutely irreplaceable but the stories about our preservation leaders who advocated for and took risks early on were added in almost all the tours,” Snow said.

The James Craven House, built in 1888 in Queen Anne style, is one of the highlights along the Grafton Hill Historic District audio walking tour produced by Preservation Dayton. STAFF PHOTO
The James Craven House, built in 1888 in Queen Anne style, is one of the highlights along the Grafton Hill Historic District audio walking tour produced by Preservation Dayton. STAFF PHOTO

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Preservation Dayton spent nearly two years developing the audio tours with funding from a City of Dayton Mini-grant. The organization plans to add more historic neighborhoods in the future.

Snow said the tours are great for evening walks or weekend stay-at-home getaways.

“Our architecture is so diverse because every neighborhood was created at slightly different times,” Snow said. “You’re not going to be bored because there’s such a nice mix.”

The downloadable walking tours can be found here. More information about Preservation Dayton can be found here.

WALKING TOURS

Dayton View Historic District

Five Oaks Historic Districts

Grafton Hill Historic District

Huffman Historic District

McPherson Town Historic District

Oregon Historic District

South Park Historic District

St. Anne’s Hill Historic District

West Third Street Historic District

Wright-Dunbar Village Historic District

Paul Laurence Dunbar Historic District