Population growth: Remembering when Springboro ‘was really a country town’

Warren County continues as Dayton region growth leader in population, residential building permits

Editor’s note: The Dayton Daily News is looking at area population trends and what they mean for local communities. Go here for an in-depth look at how the region’s fastest growing communities are coping with that growth, and here for a table showing population changes at area cities and townships. This story looks at how Springboro’s growth has impacted the city’s character.

When Betty Bray married John Bray, they moved to a house in 1961 that he bought the year before on South Main Street (Ohio 741) in Springboro. They were married for 55 1/2 years until his 2017 death.

“It was really a country town,” she said. “There was a two-lane highway, Ohio 73, (Central Avenue), another two-lane highway, Ohio 741 and there were farms all along the roads.”

The city has grown to a population of 19,062, according to the 2020 census. This is an increase of nearly 54% from the 12,380 people who lived there just two decades years ago.

Bray said when she first came to Springboro, she was told you had to live there for 50 years before people were accepted as city residents. She also remembers when Springboro only had one public works employee.

At the crossroads of the two state highways, there was an IGA grocery, a hardware store, a drug store, a beauty shop, a drug store, and an arts-and-crafts store, Bray said. Along Main Street, there were a few small businesses such as a restaurant, auto shop and a post office.

“When I moved here, there was hardly any traffic on Main Street,” she said.

Over the years, new subdivisions and a new shopping center, Midway Plaza near the interchange of the fairly new Interstate 75 and Ohio 73, arrived. She has seen businesses and a lot of people come and go over the years.

Bray said Springboro began to grow after Bill Covell was appointed city manager in 1982.

“He figured out ways on how to develop land,” she said.

One of Covell’s major accomplishments was the development of the publicly owned Heatherwoode Golf Club. He left the city in 1993 and died in 2012.

Bray said even with all the growth over the past 60 years, she believes “we’re growing at the right speed.”

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