The DDN reports today on a landscape restoration plan for Hills & Dales.
A $4 million restoration project at the 297-acre Hills and Dales MetroPark in Kettering aims to recreate the look of the landscape when the park was a gift from John Patterson, co-founder of National Cash Register.
Nowadays the “park” seems like merely a big golf course with landscaped fringes. The original idea was much more ambitious.
Patterson, along with fellow industrialiss Deeds and Kettering contracted with the Olmstead firm of Boston, Mass to landscape their adjoining properties.
The intention apparently was to create an interlocking landscape system in the hill country west of Far Hills, extending from the Dayton Country Club to Rahn & Alex-Bell Roads, with a parkway (Southern Boulevard) as a connecting feature. Adjacent subdivisions estates and parks (Houk Stream)may also have designed by the Olmstead firm.
This systemic approach was akin the previous Olmstead work, such as the Emerald Necklace in Boston (though that was an urban scheme and this one rural/suburban
The southern part was never completely developed, though parts became the NCR and Moraine Country Clubs and the Deeds estate.
The interesting thing about Hills & Dales was that it was originally twice its current size, extending south of Dorothy Land. And there were little side-parkways that connected the main body of the park to Far Hills Avenue.
Only the northern part was the gifted to the city. The southern part was later subdivided for housing.
An interesting feature was that there was a branch of the interurban line running to the park, and extending down Southern Boulevard (possibly why Southern is so wide). This is shown in the above map in red.
The idea was to improve access from the city, but with heavy auto usee cars were banned, and the park was only accessible via train.
Subsequent developement disrupted the system, and it was never completed. Enough survives, though, to give Dayton a greenbelt of estates, parks, and golf courses extending south of the city.
Vignettes from the Olmstead landscape system: