Neighborhood History

History of Shroyer Park

By Tony Kroeger

The Shroyer Park area was incrementally incorporated into the City of Dayton in the early 1900s. It had previously been located in Van Buren Township, which is now parts of Dayton, Kettering, Moraine, and Oakwood and is no longer a jurisdiction. 

Like most hinterland areas, Van Buren Township was primarily a farming community.  Most of the early Shroyer Park area settlers were farmers. However, the abundant quarries in Van Buren Township are noteworthy.  The lake at the AFL-CIO Wilmington Hi-Rise was once a quarry, and provided stone for Montgomery County’s second courthouse.  The stone for Dayton’s historic courthouse was excavated from a quarry near today’s Wayne Avenue and Smithville Road intersection.  Several other quarries existed in Van Buren Township, yielding the building materials for many important structures in the area, including canal locks.

Of the early Van Buren Township settlers, three families are particularly noteworthy—those bearing the names Shroyer, Baumann, and Bradford. 

John Shroyer, a farmer, moved to the area from Middletown, Maryland in 1810.  Shroyer married here and eventually the Shroyer family, including children, owned several hundred acres in Van Buren Township, including property that would become a portion of Shroyer Park.  John Shroyer’s grandson, George W. Shroyer, was mayor of Dayton from 1914-1917 (Dayton first mayor under the manager form of government) and served on the City Commission from 1918-1920.   In 1894, George opened a bicycle exchange at 23 West Fifth Street under the name G.W. Shroyer & Co. George was also a member of the Dayton Air Service committee, which is credited with securing the site for what would become Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

 Another family with ties to both Shroyer Park and the Dayton mayoral office is the Baumann family.  Clement Louis Baumann was born in 1838 in Bavaria, Germany, and arrived in the U.S. in 1848 with his siblings and his father, Thomas, and mother, Constantia.  Clement Baumann became a civic leader in Dayton, including stints as mayor in 1868 and 1870.  Clement was the President of the Board of Education from 1878 to 1880 and a founder of the Dayton Public Library.  The location of the Baumann property is where Firwood Drive and Constantia Avenue exist today. 

John Bradford moved to the area in 1800, and was a farmer.   The Bradford family is noteworthy for two reasons: this family eventually held more land in the Shroyer Park area than any other family during the settlement time period; and the Bradford land included what would become Hospice of Dayton and other care facilities south of the Dayton State Hospital.  Bradford property contained what would become the water source for the Dayton State Hospital.
The Shroyer Park area continued to be sparsely populated until the 1940s.  Many of today’s single-family homes were constructed in the 1940s and 1950s.  About 26 percent of the homes in Shroyer Park were constructed between 1940 and 1944; about 19 percent between 1945 and 1949; and about 16 percent in the 1950s.

Upon subdivision in the 1940s, residents of the new homes mostly reflected Dayton’s industrial strength, with employment at companies like Frigidaire, Delco, and, particularly, NCR.  In fact, as an example, of the 21 householders on Constantia Ave. in 1941/42, six had employment with NCR, with jobs as Stock Clerk, Inspector, Assembler, Medical Director, Screw Maker, and Pressman.

 Despite so many homes being constructed soon after World War II, the streetscapes of Shroyer Park do not resemble the repetitious, mass-produced tract-style housing that typified housing of the time period.  The most common housing style by far is the Cap Cod revival, although Shroyer Park also has several other types including bungalows, colonial revival, art deco, and American foursquare.  Balancing out the neighborhood is the much newer Wilmington Place subdivision, across the street from 10 Wilmington Place.  More contemporary multi-family housing has also been constructed, including housing targeted toward University of Dayton students.

Parallel to the settlement and residential development of the neighborhood was the development and growth of institutions in the vicinity, including the Dayton State Hospital, Woodland Cemetery, and the University of Dayton—and later, Hospice of Dayton and 10 Wilmington Place.

Since 1855, this area has been impacted by the property at the southeast corner of Wayne and Wilmington, which has operated as the Southern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, Dayton Asylum for the Insane, and the Dayton State Hospital.  The property now houses the 10 Wilmington Place retirement community. The Asylum served as and end-point for the Wayne Avenue and Fifth Street Railroad and it led to large state landholdings, not only east of Wilmington Pike, but also land that would become the Children’s Psychiatric Hospital (later the University of Dayton’s Shroyer Park Center), a portion of Woodland Cemetery’s plans for future development, Belmont High School, and farther away, Research Park.  The Research Park property was used as the farm for the institution, and was labored on by asylum patients.

Woodland Cemetery was established in 1840 and contains the burial locations of many famous Daytonians including Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Paul Laurence Dunbar, John Patterson, James Rittey, Charles Kettering, Edward Deeds, James M. Cox, Erma Bombeck, and Daniel Cooper.  While these sites are not technically located within the Shroyer Park boundaries, the future of the institution and the neighborhood are perpetually interwoven as Woodland owns the property on which Patterson Park fields exist, as well as former state property that extends out the Wilmington Avenue, just south of Wilmington Place subdivision.

Established in 1850, The University of Dayton is the largest coeducational Roman Catholic university in the United States, and the largest private university in Ohio.  UD was recognized in 2006 as the third best university in the country in positive contributions the institution has made to the welfare of its surrounding community.  The school, which is located in the city’s University Park neighborhood, continues to help shape the identity of Shroyer Park.  Along with being home to many University of Dayton students, the school’s Shroyer Park Center is located here.  The Center, acquired in 1991, is located in the former Children’s Psychiatric Hospital at Firwood and Irving.  It serves as research space for the University of Dayton Research Institute. 

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