Hills and Dales Country Club

Oakwood borders the oldest municipal country club in America, which was used by white, Black, and Jewish Daytonians as early as 1918.


Most parks, playgrounds, beaches and recreation centers were segregated during the first decades of the 20th century. Even the national parks typically followed state and local customs regarding segregation.[1] Black patrons were regularly banned from private and even public golf courses,[2] while country clubs and social clubs commonly excluded Black and Jewish people.[3] Yet when Hills and Dales Park and Country Club opened in 1916, its directors placed advertisements in several local newspapers, including a Jewish newspaper, declaring that the park and club were open to “all the residents of this community”.[4]


Through the Jim Crow era, various Black social clubs and organizations held events at Hills and Dales Country Club. The June 20, 1919 edition of the Dayton Forum reminded its readers of the upcoming Sunday school picnic at Hills and Dales for Zion Baptist Church, a Black church that still exists today.[5] On June 15, 1946, the Daily Bulletin reported that the West Side YMCA, which has the distinction of being the nation’s first Black YWCA,[6] had recently held a prom for its young ladies at the Hills and Dales Country Club; the hall had been “beautifully decorated in blue and white” for the occasion. The Daily Express announced on July 3, 1951 that two historically Black fraternities, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi, would hold a joint picnic at Hills and Dales later that week. Several Jewish organizations were also able to reserve the country club for events during these years, including the Young Men’s De Hirsch (Zionist) Club and the Dayton Branch of the Jewish Welfare Board.[3]


Hills and Dales Park, now one of the Five Rivers MetroParks, was donated to the city by John H. Patterson, president of the National Cash Register Corporation and an influential founding resident of Oakwood. His daughter Dorothy Patterson, as well as notable Oakwood resident Katharine Wright, were on the original board of directors.[3] The history of Hills and Dales Park and Community Club as a shareable space is worth remembering and celebrating. In an era when Black and Jewish Americans had limited access to outdoor recreation, public facilities, and private gathering spaces, Daytonians of all races and religions enjoyed access to a stunning park and community hall right on Oakwood’s doorstep.


[1] https://www.nps.gov/gis/storymaps/cascade/v1/index.html?appid=a2e315494beb47d4bbbad369ae8e7ff3 [2] https://www.jstor.org/stable/20064205 [3] https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2005-07-10-0507100037-story.html [4] https://daytonjewishobserver.org/2020/07/john-patterson-ncr-oakwood-and-the-jewish-community/ [5] https://www.dayton.com/news/local/dayton-oldest-black-baptist-church-celebrates-150-years/7Fx8U9L69H5vQwZR0xioFO/ [6] https://www.wdtn.com/hidden-history/black-history-month/an-early-vision-dayton-woman-rebuilding-nations-first-black-ywca/