Located between Patterson Blvd. and Wayne Ave. North to Gates St. and South to U.S. 35, the historic Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio represents the city's oldest surviving intact combination of notable residential and commercial architecture. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, it comprises about a 40 square-block area of the city.
The neighborhood was first established in 1829 when the Miami Canal opened and industrial development came to the area. Many of the early settlers of Oregon were Germans who came to work in the city's factories. The name Oregon appeared as early as 1845 though the origins of the moniker are unknown. Many early local merchants used the word "Oregon'' in the names of their businesses and there is evidence that there was an Oregon Fire Company as early as 1850.
During the second half of the 19th century, the Oregon District earned a reputation as a fine place to live. The city's wealthiest merchants put down roots there and built some of the largest and most ornate homes the city would ever see and the neighborhood is still considered the most architecturally-significant area of the city. Mansions are commonplace and can be found in a variety of styles that were popular during that era. These include Federal, Italianate, Greek Revival, and Queen Anne.
However, when the Great Flood of 1913 hit Dayton, it began to experience a serious decline and neighborhoods like the Oregon District were greatly affected. Urban blight was evident by as early as the 40s and 50s. In the 1960s, the city began an urban clearance and redevelopment program in an attempt to save Dayton. Locals recognized the architectural gem that was the Oregon District and a fight to save the area was mounted and was successful.
The homes that were saved during the regentrification remain a sign of the early success of the city and though most are now privately owned, they are still a tourist site for visitors and many can be toured at least once a year. However, visitors head to the historic Oregon District not only to admire the elaborate homes and old office buildings there, but also to enjoy the shopping and entertainment that has sprung up throughout this attractive neighborhood. Some of the city's most highly acclaimed restaurants are located in the Oregon District and on the weekends, the area is crowded with diners. Visitors will find everything here from pizza take-out to elegant fine-dining establishments with table service. Bars and nightspots are also commonplace and are especially enjoyed by young professionals, many of whom have taken up residence in the area. Shopping is popular here as well. There are a handful of antique stores located throughout the neighborhood as well as apparel, gift, and other kinds of shops.
A charming city park, Newcom Founders Park, is a popular retreat for locals, established in 1985 as the focal point of the neighborhood. The gazebo in the center of the park has become a favorite place for weddings, and on a warm day, it's not unusual to see dozens of families enjoying an outdoor picnic in Newcom Founders Park.