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Excellence in Preservation Award to the Wilsons and Regniers

The Excellence In Preservation Award recognizes creative, inspirational leaders whose efforts have contributed to the protection, renovation, and revitalization of historic neighborhoods, individual structures, or strengthened the historic preservation movement or the quality of life in Dayton’s historic communities.
April 27, 2021
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South Park News

L-R Galen and Betsy Wilson, Diana and Mike Regnier.

Preservation Dayton, Inc. promotes, protects, and enhances greater Dayton’s architectural heritage, its setting and its contributions to the region’s quality of life. To recognize those who’ve contributed to these goals, Preservation Dayton created the “Excellence in Preservation” awards. Two families in Historic South Park have been recognized for their amazing restorations and overall contributions to their neighborhood.
In early 2017, 326 and 322 Park Drive were purchased as a joint rehab venture by Galen and Betsy Wilson and Mike and Diana Regnier. These adjacent properties, built in the 1910s, had been joined in the 1950s by a large addition across the rear of both houses. Containing an industrial kitchen and offices, this addition made it possible to use the joined properties as a nursing home. Approved by the city in the 1970s to house 61 residents, the business continued under ever-deteriorating management until being shut down in 2015. Together, the Wilsons and Regniers financed removal of a 15-foot-wide section of the addition to separate the houses, after which each worked independently on their respective structures.
326 Park Drive – Betsy & Galen Wilson
For over 20 years, Galen has served on the Board and committees of our neighborhood council, Historic South Park Inc., promoting and encouraging preservation, starting with the Wilsons’ own beautiful home.
Betsy is known for her expertly researched and compiled House Histories, which are fascinating, and lead people to cherish their historic homes, knowing their specific history. Each year, she and Galen take neighbors on a history tour about past South Park residents who are buried in Woodland Cemetery. Betsy has generously donated her time to complete numerous house histories for Preservation Dayton’s annual nominations to Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Properties list and for PDI’s walking tours of Dayton’s National Register neighborhoods.
They have invested both emotional and financial resources. In 2001, they purchased a blighted home, rescuing it from criminal use, and rehabbing it. But most recently, with purchase and renovation of 326 Park Drive they have outdone themselves. They spent hundreds of thousands on this former group home that was cut up into heartbreaking “cells” for its residents — many who toured it beforehand said there was no way it could be brought back to its original glory. The Wilsons did it – so beautifully — out of passion, without deep pockets — and it is amazing. In addition, Betsy and Galen have been instrumental in helping to create the summer Shakespeare in South Park festival. Galen has served as producer, actor, and director. Betsy has devoted her creative talent to costume design and creation for the performances.
Key in returning 326 Park Drive to splendor were the services of architect Matt Sauer and craftsman contractor Martin Bertolo and his crew. The house is now owned and enjoyed by Joyce and Heath MacAlpine.
322 Park Drive – Diana and Mike Regnier
Mike and Diana Regnier have visited Park Drive many times over the last 12 years when they came to see their daughter and grandchildren. They often discussed what beautiful homes 322 and 326 Park must have been and how it was a shame to see them in their current state. In 2017 they sold their home and property in Tennessee with the intention of moving to Ohio to be closer to family, and downsizing to a much smaller property that wouldn’t require so much time and maintenance.
As luck would have it, the Park drive properties were empty and in need of someone to take on the monumental task of purchasing, separating, and restoring them to single family homes. They took the leap and were so grateful to find that Betsy and Galen Wilson were willing to take on one of the properties as their own project. Two years and more challenges than they care to remember, they feel incredibly lucky to live in the great neighborhood of South Park. If you are walking along Park Drive on a summer afternoon, you are likely to find Mike and Diana enjoying the open air on the restored porch that stretches across the house’s entire front. Say hello and they will probably invite you to sit down to visit.
About Preservation Dayton
Preservation Dayton, Inc. is a grass roots organization of people dedicated to preserving Dayton’s historic properties. Its goals are to promote historic preservation by encouraging communication and creating a cohesive network among historic districts, societies and preservationists, local and regional governments, the business sector and the Dayton community at large. Membership is open to those who share our goals and vision.

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