SNEAK PEEK: Bigger restaurant, fairy-tale inspired event space part of Carillon’s expansion

New galleries to open Thursday, re-imagined Culp’s Cafe with railcar dining coming soon

Carillon Historical Park has a new front door that will welcome more and larger events and give guests a reason to return and learn more about Dayton’s inventive past.

The new $10 million Winsupply Center of Leadership will introduce visitors to “an entire playground of really great stories” throughout the park’s campus, said Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History.


“This is the piece of the master plan to accommodate people’s wishes and make sure they can enjoy and be enveloped by these stories,” Kress said. “We want everyone in the world to know that their life has been positively impacted by Dayton.”

The 32,000-square-foot expansion that connects the Kettering Family Education Center and the Carillon Brewing Co. buildings will be dedicated Thursday, Sept. 26.

It will house an expanded Culp’s Café, exhibit galleries, classrooms, meeting rooms and a 700-seat event space, while giving visitors a taste of Dayton’s history.

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The building was a need that emerged as the number of park visitors climbed and more requested a larger venue for corporate functions and weddings, Kress said.

The addition will be a “welcome to Dayton experience” with free access to Culp’s Café, restrooms, an expanded museum store and two new galleries for diners or people who use the recreation trails near the park.

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The restaurant’s décor ties into a golden age when Dayton experienced an “explosion of invention and energy” coinciding with Culp’s opening in the Dayton Arcade at the start of the 20th century, Kress said.

A restored 1903 Barney & Smith interurban car will be the centerpiece of the re-imagined Culp’s Café in a space three times the size of the existing park restaurant.

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Costumes for the servers are based on photographs from the Dayton History archives.

Female servers will wear long pleated dresses with aprons and men will wear braces and bow ties.

Visitors seated inside the rail car or at cast iron marble tables in the café can order classic Dayton recipes like Rike’s chicken salad and Culp’s cake, a decadent chocolate dessert.

A 30-foot-long soda fountain will also beckon with sodas, sundaes and phosphates.

The new café, open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., will also serve breakfast, with chicken and waffles as a star on the menu.

>> Barney & Smith railcar to be centerpiece of Carillon’s Culp Cafe


Two new galleries will give visitors highlights of unique Dayton history.

“We’re bringing out some teaser artifacts that will help catch the eye of everyone coming through to say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that about Dayton, Ohio.’” Kress said.

On display in the Schear Family Gallery will be one of the first cash registers ever built and a gold-plated Huffy bicycle, the one-millionth to come off the line.

“Cheers to the Gem City” is the theme of the Roger Glass Gallery, a photo-centric exhibit focusing on familiar faces from television and film.

“On top of bicycles, cash registers and airplanes,” Kress said he wants people to know Martin Sheen, Phil Donahue, Sherri Saum, and Rob Lowe are among the “folks born here, or jump-started their career from the Dayton region.”

The new galleries will open Thursday, but construction will not be complete on Culp’s Café, which is expected to begin food service in mid-October.


The two-story Eichelberger Pavilion can seat up to 700 people for weddings or corporate events. Brass castings of historic NCR cash registers inspired the patterns in the wallpaper, carpet and the railings around the mezzanine.

The carpeted center of the main floor is surrounded by terrazzo. Floor-to-ceiling windows on the mezzanine look out over an outdoor event garden space with a patio and mature sycamore trees.

A private lounge and kitchen space, decorated in comfortable and contemporary style, is available for corporate retreats. A kitchen and large coolers are available for catering.

Two staircases meet on a landing big enough to hold a band. Above, 11 gold chandeliers hang from a twilight blue ceiling.

“I decided I’m going to go full ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on this thing,” Kress said.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine will attend the private building dedication for Dayton History members at 2 p.m. Thursday.

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“I want people to spend as much time as they want here at Carillon and I want them to enjoy it and to enjoy the surroundings and be proud of where they are from,” Kress said. “I think that can be done best by showcasing these unique stories.”

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