Carillon Park opened across the street from NCR Old River Park in the summer of 1950, as Old River swimmers likely watched in wonder as the new historical park welcomed its initial guests. Both parks were part of a city enhancement plan envisioned by legendary Dayton industrialist Edward Deeds and beautified by the Olmsted Brothers, the famed landscape architectural firm responsible for Central Park.
As Chairman of the Board at NCR, a company known for their pioneering business strategies, Deeds created Old River Park as a recreational area for NCR employees and their families. “For well over half-a-century, the Old River pool tower was not only a symbol of summer fun, but to thousands of employees, it was a symbol of NCR, a revolutionary company intrinsically tied to Dayton, Ohio,” says Dayton History President & CEO Brady Kress.
One of Old River Park’s most popular features was its swimming pool. Outfitted with diving boards and water slides, a large, ornate tower divided the pool’s shallow and deep ends. “At the time, Old River’s pool was one of the largest in the nation, and its unique central tower made it one of a kind,” says Kress.
Dayton History recently announced the iconic Old River swimming pool light tower has been successfully moved and restored at Carillon Historical Park. Along with the tower, numerous Old River relics — a collection of original picnic shelters, swings, game pieces, and a slide — made their way to Carillon Park in an effort to preserve this regional story.
“We were delighted to assist Carillon Park in the careful removal of some of Old River’s most memorable assets for preservation at the museum,” says University of Dayton President Eric Spina. “As the original Old River Park is finding a new purpose in education and research, it’s appropriate that its legacy and importance to generations of Dayton families will be remembered.”
The University of Dayton purchased Old River Park in 2009 as part of a larger acquisition including the former NCR World Headquarters. The park area is now a living lab for research and education where environmental biology students and faculty are studying ecological phenomena.
“Edward Deeds opened Old River Park and within a year started building the carillon. With areas of Old River now being repurposed by the university, and because Dayton History owns the NCR Archive, it seems fitting to have some of the original relics preserved at the same historical organization Deeds founded nearly 80 years ago.”
The pool tower now rises at Deeds Plaza in the heart of Carillon Historical Park, soon to be joined by the remaining Old River relics. “Our plan is to bring all the components together to give a flavor of what thousands of employees enjoyed every summer at Old River,” says Kress, “including the recreation of the shuffleboard lanes and huge in-ground checkerboards.
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