Historic Sites

Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Dayton, users recommend paying a visit to Historic Clifton Mill, in the Clifton area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.

10 Sun Watch Indian Village
In the 1200s, the Native American Fort Ancients tribe settled here, but it wasn't until the 1960s when excavation workers were beginning a sewage treatment plant project that the site was uncovered. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the site has been preserved and gradually refurbished, and now offers a fascinating look into US prehistory. A trail weaves through and around the partially reconstructed village, giving a good overview of this ancient tribe. Artifacts and exhibits detailing the archaeology of the village help to give visitors a more complete picture of Fort Ancient culture. (937-268-8199)

9 Covered Bridges Tour
One of the yearly event rides hosted by the Dayton Cycling Club, this excursion to view regional covered bridges takes place at 8am on an early-summer Saturday. Riders can cover the amount of terrain they choose, from 23 miles and two bridge visits up to 105 miles and 10 bridges. Marked routes and maps are provided, but bikers must supply their own food and drink (there are plenty of shops and stores along the way) and repair and emergency supplies.

8 Historic Clifton Mill
This old working gristmill is located along and powered by the Little Miami River. Since it was first built in 1802, the mill has endured two devastating fires and many years of deprivation. Robert Heller revived the lifeless mill, which is now one of the city's dominant attractions. Visitors can participate in guided tours of the six-story mill to get a better understanding of how it grinds flour and cornmeal. Pies, breads, spices, and syrups are sold in the Clifton Mill store, and breakfast and lunch are available in the mill restaurant. (937-767-5501)

7 Miamisburg Mound
After much investigation, archaeologists have come to the conclusion that this 65-foot tall knoll hill is a burial mound constructed by the Adena Indians sometime between 800-1000 AD. The biggest of its type in Ohio, the mound is now surrounded by 37 acres of parkland. Sightseers enjoy the magnificent views from the crown, which may be reached by climbing 116 steps from base to summit. The park is located off SR 725, one mile south of exit 44. (937-866-4532, 800-686-6124)

6 Oregon Historic District
In 1965, the Montgomery County Landmark Committee acknowledged the Oregon District as the oldest neighborhood in Dayton. Today, the refurbished homes that line the streets show structural designs that date between 1830 and 1910. Visitors to the district enjoy seeing the Federal, Victorian, and Queen Anne period homes; there are many charming shops and dining establishments in the area as well. The neighborhood is bordered by 5th St on the north, Patterson Blvd on the west, Wayne Ave on the east, and SR35 on the south.

5 Patterson Homestead
This historic, federal-style farmhouse was once home to the esteemed Colonel Robert Patterson. In addition to being a respected veteran of the Revolutionary War, Patterson was also the founder of Lexington, Kentucky. Colonel Patterson's grandsons, Frank and John, followed in their grandfather's footsteps by residing here, as well. The grandsons are well known for founding the National Cash Register (better recognized as NCR) Corp. (937-222-9724)

4 Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial
This Italianate-style home belonged to the renowned African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar and his family overcame many difficulties. His parents were freed Kentucky slaves, and Dunbar himself battled tuberculosis his entire life. Furnishings, articles of clothing, and original works on display illustrate Dunbar's inspiring "rags to riches" life story. The first state memorial to honor an African American, the Dunbar House offers insights into not only the lives of its former occupants, but into American life in general. (937-313-2010, 800-860-0148)

3 Wright Cycle Company Shop
From 1895 to 1897, the famous Wright brothers managed a bicycle and print shop in this historic building. The attraction is particularly special because it's where the first flight tests originated. In addition to seeing antique bicycles, guests can view machinery and other objects that Orville and Wilbur used to produce their ingenious invention. (937-225-7705)

2 Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum
Originally opened in 1843, the 200-acre Woodland Cemetery is one of the largest garden-type cemeteries in the country, and boasts over 3000 trees. About 100,000 monuments dot the rolling landscape; the chapel, which features beautiful Tiffany windows, office and entrance gate are on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of Dayton's significant historical figures rest here, including Orville and Wilbur Wright, Col. Edward Deeds, C.J. McLin Jr, and the Kettering and Patterson families. Other notables: humorist Erma Bombeck, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and the Owen Stanley family, gypsy queens and kings from England. The office has an audiotaped tour that visitors may borrow. (937-228-3221)

1 Hawthorn Hill
This distinctive, Georgian-style mansion was built by the Wright Brothers (of aviation fame) and their sister. The three made an agreement to live together in the house for the remainder of their lives and never to wed. Orville, however, was the only sibling to carry out the pledge. Wilbur passed away before the house was completed, and Katherine married in 1926. The home is not presently open to the public — it's used to house visiting dignitaries — but folks may observe the historic property and its namesake hawthorn trees from the road. (937-293-2841)

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Maps and Directions

Sun Watch Indian Village 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Covered Bridges Tour 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Tours and Excursions
Neighborhood: BROOKVILLE
Historic Clifton Mill 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: CLIFTON
Miamisburg Mound 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: MIAMISBURG
Oregon Historic District 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Patterson Homestead 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Wright Cycle Company Shop 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Gardens, Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Hawthorn Hill 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: OAKWOOD
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