The Tale of Two Towers

 The Tale of Two Towers

Local historic structures have found a new home at Carillon Historical Park

In the early 1940s, Deeds Carillon rose near the old National Cash Register campus, just south of downtown, its Indiana limestone facade shooting skyward as Daytonians marveled in wonder. Dayton has seen countless transformations since the carillon’s dedication Aug. 23, 1942, yet the bell tower has stood firm—and until recently it also stood solitary. After more than 75 years, Deeds Carillon has been joined by not one, but two, iconic Dayton towers.

The Old River Park Swimming Pool Light Tower

For over half a century, the Old River Park Swimming Pool Light Tower was a symbol of Dayton summer fun. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the famed landscape architectural firm responsible for New York’s Central Park, Old River was the vision of Carillon Park founder Edward Deeds. As chairman of the board at NCR, Deeds created Old River Park in 1939 as a recreational area for NCR employees and their families—happy employees would be loyal employees, or so the thinking went.

In the summer of 1950, Carillon Park opened directly across the street from Old River. Both sites were components of a four-part plan envisioned by Edward Deeds and beautified by the Olmsted Brothers: Sugar Camp was built in 1934, Old River Park arrived in 1939, Deeds Carillon was erected in 1942 and Carillon Park opened in 1950.

One of Old River Park’s most popular features was its swimming pool. The pool’s ornate light tower is still cherished by many Daytonians, and it was recently relocated to Carillon Historical Park.

The Callahan Clock atop the Brethen Tower  

The Callahan Clock, like Deeds Carillon and the Old River Swimming Pool Light Tower, has offered Daytonians comfort over the years. An iconic symbol of the Miami Valley, the historic timepiece has now been hoisted atop the 100-foot Brethen Tower at Carillon Historical Park.

Once perched above the Callahan Building, Dayton’s first skyscraper, the clock began ticking March 21, 1921, at the corner of Third and Main downtown. Daytonians once set their watches according to its hands. They knew precisely where to go when asked to meet “under the clock.” In a very practical sense, the Callahan Clock made its mark on the city’s collective consciousness. 

Over the years, the Callahan Clock had numerous stewards, but none was more notable than Gem City Savings, which bought the Callahan Building in 1955, renamed it the Gem City Savings Building and overhauled the timepiece. In the late 1970s, when Gem City Savings relocated and razed the Callahan Building, the clock found a new home atop Reynolds and Reynolds’ headquarters.

With its bright blue art-deco facade, the Callahan Clock was instantly recognizable at the Interstate 75 and U.S. route 35 interchange. There it remained until 2006 when the Reynolds and Reynolds building was slated for demolition. Dayton History, Reynolds and Reynolds and the city of Dayton collaborated to preserve the timepiece. Nearly a century later, the Callahan Clock was recently placed atop its forever home—the Brethen Tower—where guests can climb to witness breathtaking views of the city of Dayton, Great Miami River and the surrounding grounds of Carillon Historical Park.