The story behind 6 of the most interesting houses in Oakwood

Imagine knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking for a college letter of recommendation.

Now imagine that neighbor was airplane co-inventor Orville Wright, and he agreed because he knew your dad.

Harrison Gowdy, a local historian and volunteer for the Dayton History and The Oakwood Historical Society, said that was the case for Robert Hadeler.

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Hadeler and his parents William and Charlotte Hadeler lived across the street from Orville Wright and his sister Katharine Wright on Harman Ave. in Oakwood.

SCROLL below for a look at the Hadelers’ old house and the homes of other Wright neighbors. 

The Wrights moved into Hawthorn Hill, their stately mansion across the street at 901 Harman Ave., in 1914 -- two years after Wilbur died at the family home in Dayton.

LISTEN to what Gowdy has to say about the historic mansion in the video above.

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While some of the region’s most influential men lived near the Wrights, Gowdy said most of their neighbors were just like the Hadelers, who owned a hardware store at 22 N. Main St. in Dayton.

Neighbors included the president of The Dayton Blank Book & Printing Company, a toolmaking foreman at NCR and a secretary and treasurer for a coal fuel company.

“They were just normal people who had normal 9 to 5 jobs and they lived across the street from Dayton’s most famous person,” said Gowdy, who holds a degree in historical preservation from Middle Tennessee State University.

Then there were a slew of movers and shakers. 

Robert Hadeler got a front row seat to history.

He not only lived across the street from the Wrights, he also spent four or five summers with the Wrights when they vacationed in Canada, Hadeler said.

Here’s a look at six historic houses and the families who lived there, as presented during a Wright at Home walking tour a couple of years ago.

900 Harman Ave.

Owners: William and Charlotte Hadeler 

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

125 Park Ave.

Owner: Joseph and Eleanor Green

Joseph Green was part of Green & Green Company, the Dayton company that introduced Cheez-It brand crackers in 1921.

As Gowdy explained on our walking tour with her,  Cheez-Its were not the Dayton company’s biggest sellers at the time.

>> MORE: Dayton’s little-known Cheezy past

The Greens moved into their home in 1922.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

999 Harman Ave. 

Owners: Bill and Susan E. Chryst

Bill Chryst, a Dayton native and Central High School graduate, started his career as an errand boy for John H. Patterson.

Gowdy says he worked his way up to chief engineer and the left-hand man of Charles Kettering.

Chryst traveled the world as president of Delco.

Gowdy said Orville Wright, a fellow member of the Dayton Engineer’s Club and Moraine Park School board, sometimes attended movie nights at Chryst’s home.

Gowdy said the notoriously private Orville often slipped out the back so he wouldn’t have to talk to other guests.

>> MORE:  How Charles Kettering earned the paper that helped change the world

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

1001 Harman Ave.

Owners: Elmer and Elsie Biechler 

Elmer Biechler knew Chryst from his days working at Delco-Light Co. He rose to be president and general manager for Frigidaire, but his first job was cleaning an ice plant for $1.50 a week.

Originally from Miamisburg, Biechler dug telephone pole holes in high school.

Despite the Great Depression, Frigidaire prospered and grew.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

1125 Harman Ave.

Owners: Harry and Eloise Schenck

A Dayton native, Harry Schenck was a principal in Schenck and Williams, one of Dayton's most important architectural firms.

Gowdy says the Cornell University grad was in many ways the true architect of Oakwood.

He started the City of Oakwood’s Planning Commission and designed Oakwood High School Junior High School, Smith School, Oakwood City Building, Wright Library, Hawthorn Hill and several of the city’s other prominent homes.

"Can you imagine how cool it would have been to walk in your own museum," Gowdy said. "It was his town."

>> MORE: 8 badass Dayton women who made history | Dayton History

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

1130 Harman Ave.

Owners: Charles and Blanche Seybold

Charles Seybold, a native of Wittenberg, Germany, is said to have reached Ellis Island at age 19 with one dollar and was unable to speak a word of English.

Seybold was told about Cincinnati’s large German community in Cincinnati.

Gowdy said he arrived in the Queen City three weeks later dirty, cold, hungry and in shoes with no soles.

Seybold went to Betts Street hospital with typhoid fever and eventually befriended a gardener who housed and employed him. He landed other jobs.

In 1883, Seybold took out a $75 loan and started his own repair business fixing an assortment of machines. By 1890, his company was making machines. A strawboard company eventually called Seybold for work in Dayton.

He commuted daily between Dayton and Cincinnati on the interurban train before relocating his business to Dayton.

At first, he lived near his factory. Then, he moved to the suburb of Grafton Hills at 221 Central Avenue. He moved to his Oakwood house in 1917.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

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