Thursday, March 6, 2008

Out Springfield Street...

The Springfield Street black community was the largest East Side concentration, and also had one of the largest black concentrations as a % of census of block. Based on the dates of the first congregations it appears to have been the earliest on the East Side..

The history of this community is unclear. The history prepared by the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations says this community formed in the 1850s, but the 1869 Titus map and 1875 County Atlas give no indication of this, aside from the area being divided into market farms like most of the rest of close-in Mad River Township. If there was a black settlement here it was not a platted rural village.

First plats appear in the 1880s, north of Springfield, and in 1901, the “Springdale Addition” (Diamond Avenue) was platted south of Springfield.

The first black churches quickly follow, with an ME congregation briefly forming on Springfield in 1911, and a mission from the old Third Zion Baptist on the Sprague Street in 1909, to become Mnt. Pisgah Baptist.

So this was a black settlement from the very beginning.

What’s interesting to speculate on is the possible connection with the Union Stockyards, which apparently replaced the Southern Ohio Stockyards in the near west side (which was subdivided in 1901, the same year as Diamond Ave). Not only did stockyards locate here, but also meatpacking. By 1919 three slaughterhouses were in operation.

Perhaps an employment center for the local black community?

Also around the turn of the century the Dayton Springfield & Urbana (DS&U) built down Springfield Street. It’s not known if the “Damned Slow & Uncertain” had local service, but it must have had a flag stop here for the stockyards.

Although platted 18 years earlier, in 1919 the neighborhood was still fairly sparse, yet one can see a church for the Mount Pisgah congregation

The church building shown on this 1919 Sanborn still exists . And note the evidence of neighborhood retail: corner stores at the alley and the Irwin/Springfield intersection, just above the church on the map:
The expanded Mnt. Pisgah. At the corner of Irwin & Diamond Avenue, looking east on Diamond.

Diamond Avenue houses. One can see two common Dayton vernacular types, the tall thin “urban I-house” and the sawed off shotgun (not as long as the southern version).

More Dayton “sawed-off shotguns”. It’s tempting to make the connection and say that since this was a black neighborhood forming during an era of in-migration from the South that the blacks brought this house style with them. I can’t say that, though, and I suspect this is a homegrown version of the shotgun house form, evolving out of the earlier workers cottage type.

Or it could have been a borrowing from the South as an expedient houseform for a growing working class population, as it was in Southern cities (most of the Dayton examples seem to be from around the turn of the last century)
(but note the traditional “Dayton style” window trim around the lower one)

This pyramid roof house is also a type found in this area. The sparse development perhaps gives a feel of what this area was like when it was on the outskirts of town.

Springfield Street, in this area a mix of houses and small factories. Today the Mad River corridor is the industrial heart of Dayton, but mostly small shops.
More Springfield Street houses, showing some typical one and two story types. An illustration on how 19th century houseforms carried over into the early 20th.
The last of Prudent Street. This street is nearly all light industry, with these as the last houses. At the end of the street was a slaughterhouse and the stockyards
And the neighborhood today, from the air, showing some historical locations.
Modern connections are that Dayton artist Bing Davis lived on Diamond Avenue when he was young, and the old drovers hotel and office at the Union Stockyards is open today as the Stockyards Inn restaurant.

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