Feb 19

Recognizing Black History in Dayton

Posted on February 19, 2024 at 1:28 PM by Alex Despain

Here we are, in the midst of Black History Month, an important time to remember those that came before us, those men and women who are so often omitted from the narrative of history.  You could write a book on the history and contributions of the black community in Dayton.   In fact, Margaret Peters wrote such a book, Dayton’s African American Heritage: A Pictorial History, which I highly recommend.  The book was the result of a project by The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, which is part of the Ohio Memory Project, and their collections can be accessed online, here: https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p15005coll34.

I am a big proponent of what is sometimes called “lowercase h history,” that is, the everyday stories of individuals, how and where they lived, and how their stories fit into the larger narrative of our pasts.  Margaret Peters' book is full of such individual stories, so I thought I’d highlight some of those today.  

N.A. Anderson:

An image of N.A. Anderson

“Mrs. N. A. Anderson, owner of The Home Store at 324 Sprague Street, is remembered as a good businesswoman.  An ad in the June 13, 1919 Dayton Forum shows that she also had the spirit that helped the black community thrive.  Her ad offered “FREE FOOD in case of sickness or accident.”  She was also active in the YWCA.  Courtesy of the Dayton YWCA.”

Charity Adams Earley: 

A picture of Charity Adams Earley

Charity Adams Earley was the first black woman to be commission as an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACs).  One Woman’s Army tells of her struggle against the racism and the sexism that she and the women in her battalion encountered.   In 1919 Charity was honored as Montgomery County’s Citizen of the Year for her volunteer work, which included serving as a member of the Sinclair Community College Board of Trustees, and chairing the Parity 2000 Committee.  In 1993 she was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.  Courtesy of Charity Adams Early.”

Jim Johnson:

Jim Johnson at WDAO

“In 1985 WDAO FM was sold to a corporation from Maryland and became an AM station, with Jim Johnson (pictured) as station manager.   Johnson served in that role until 1988, when local African Americans formed Johnson Communications, Incorporated, and purchased WDAO, Dayton’s first black-owned radio station.  At that time “The real rhythm of the city” motif was added to the original logo... Courtesy of Jim Johnson.”

James Parsons:

James Parson at his Research Lab 

“After Earning his engineering degree form Renssaeler Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, James Parsons became the Director of Duriron’s Research Laboratory.  He supervised what was reportedly the only all-black laboratory staff in the country.  Parsons earned eight patents for developing processes which made stainless steel possible.   Because of his achievements, in 1928 Parsons received the Harmon Medal from Orville Wright in the first public program at the Fifth Street Y. Charles Kettering delivered the address.  Parsons later taught at Tennessee State University, the Ohio State University, and Garfield Skills Center.  Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.”  

Lelia Francis:

Lelia Francis leaving her office“Lelia Francis, the first black realtor in Ohio, is seen leaving her office in the 1950s.  Mrs. Francis fought against redlining and was arrested for demonstrating to force Rike-Kumler Department store to hire black people.  Her community activities have been recognized by many Dayton organizations, including the National Business League and the Greater Dayton Christian Council… Collins Studio, courtesy of Lelia Francis.”

W.S. McIntosh:

W.S. McIntosh leading a demonstration

“In 1954, W. S. McIntosh, the first marcher, began leading demonstrations against the city of Dayton, banks, and stores, demanding fair treatment and equal employment opportunities for black Daytonians.   The second marcher is Reverand Walter Dunson, who began working with McIntosh as a teenager.  McIntosh’s efforts secured jobs and loans, but they also led to the loss of his dry-cleaning business when suppliers refused to sell to him.  He continued the struggle, opening his House of Knowledge bookstore in Westown.   McIntosh was killed in 1974, while trying to stop a robbery in downtown Dayton.  Courtesy of Reverand Walter Dunson.”


There are countless other stories out there.  Other sources of information on the history of African Americans in Dayton, their stories, and the inequities they have faced, can be found here:

West Dayton Stories: https://www.wyso.org/west-dayton-stories

Redlining: Mapping Inequality in Dayton & Springfield: https://thinktv.org/redlining/


  • Post by Holly Hornbeak
Jan 29

New Applications for our Historic Districts

Posted on January 29, 2024 at 1:00 PM by Alex Despain

                In 1972, the City of Dayton established its first local historic district, the Oregon Historic District.  Since that time, the number of historic landmarks recognized and governed locally by the City has grown to include 13 districts and more than 70 individual landmarks.  

                As our historic districts have changed over the years, so too have the guidelines that govern those districts and the ways in which we track and regulate changes to landmarked properties.  In 1972, there was only one district and one type of historic district overlay.  Today we have three different levels of designation.  Before the Landmark Commission was established in 1988, changes to properties were overseen by the Historic Architecture Committee.

                Certificates of Appropriateness (COAs) have changed, too.   At one point, COAs were written up by hand by the Landmark Secretary.  At another point, the Historic Preservation Officer would type them up on a typewriter, keeping a carbon copy for our records here at City Hall.   

For a long time, obtaining a Minor COA required little more than a phone call.   However, as our historic districts have grown in number and technology has evolved, we now have the need for more constancy and regulation in our record keeping.  As such, we are happy to introduce a new format for our applications and the addition of a formal application for Minor COAs. We are now requiring a completed application for any work on the exterior of the home, be it Major or Minor.  All applications will need to include the Application Cover Page to be considered a complete application.

Our new applications can be found here: https://www.daytonohio.gov/454/Landmark-Commission-Applications-Applica.  Applications can be completed in a number of ways:

  1. Printed out, completed by hand, and delivered to City Hall
  2. Printed out, completed by hand, scanned, and emailed to staff
  3. Completed as a fillable PDF and emailed to staff

                And that’s it!  We hope you find this new step easy and unobtrusive. Thank you for understanding how it helps us with processing requests and keeping records of changes to a property over time.  Feel free to reach out to planning staff with any questions or concerns about the new process.  You can reach Historic Preservation Officer Holly Hornbeak at (937) 333-4271 or holly.hornbeak@daytonohio.gov.

Jan 09

Planning Division 2023 Year in Review and Look Ahead to 2024

Posted on January 9, 2024 at 4:32 PM by Alex Despain

We welcome you to review this report highlighting the Planning Division’s work in 2023 and previewing 2024 work items.

Thank you to all with whom we worked in 2023 to make it a success. Everything we do is a partnership, including those with other divisions, departments, residents, and stakeholders.

It was a very busy year, which included:

  • Supporting Landmark Commission, Plan Board, and Board of Zoning Appeals – over the course of 44 public meetings, staff presented 149 land use cases and presentations, providing staff analysis and recommendations to ensure quality development that improves the Dayton built environment.
  • Advancing major initiatives – Planning Division staff completed the City’s first Active Transportation Plan, had a new Comprehensive Plan adopted, brought forward $5.2M in Dayton Recovery Plan housing investments to Dayton City Commission, completed a Community Reinvestment Area for the entire northwest part of Dayton, oversaw the completion of the Westwood neighborhood plan, advanced the Activate Belmont initiative, collected data on short-term rentals, completed the Bike Yard at Welcome Park, received “Age-Friendly” certification from AARP, and developed an Ordinance creating the largest Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in Ohio.
  • Working in the community – In 2023, we were co-hosts of the Miami Valley Cycling Summit, held the grand opening for the Bike Yard at Welcome Park, presented at various workshops and conferences, engaged extensively with the community on various initiatives, and held seats on impactful boards.

We look forward to continued advancement in 2024, including major initiatives of the Dayton Recovery Plan and new Community Reinvestment Area in West Dayton. We will also be implementing and completing projects related to the Activate Belmont initiative, the Riverfront Master Plan, and the Active Transportation Plan.