History of South Park

The South Park Historic District is a 24-block area of more than 700 structures dating from the 1880s to the early twentieth century.  It is located within walking distance of the Oregon Historic District, downtown Dayton, the campus of the University of Dayton, and Miami Valley Hospital.  Mainly residential in character, South Park is significant because of the variety of its architecture, which includes vernacular, cottage, and high style examples, and because of its association with John H. Patterson, founder of the National Cash Register Company.

When Patterson began to develop his factory complex on South Main Street, the area now called South Park was a neighborhood of shacks and shanties called “Slidertown.”  Patterson began to have trouble with boys from Slidertown who broke the glass windows on his new factory, and so, determined to give the boys something else to do by sponsoring community gardens and other beautification projects for the neighborhood.  Eventually South Park developed into a pleasant, garden-filled community where factory workers lived side-by-side with supervisors and Patterson’s right-hand men. Until the advent of the automobile enabled NCR workers to move further afield, the neighborhood continued to be associated with Patterson’s firm, and many company picnics and other functions took place on Park Drive Boulevard in the heart of the district.

The architecture of South Park includes examples of Second Empire, High Victorian Italianate, Queen Anne, Federal and Romanesque Revival in one- and two-story structures of brick and frame.  South Park still preserves a sense of close-knit neighborhood whose residents cooperate to maintain the many neighborhood parks which give the district its special flavor.