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New Dayton History Exhbitis Hightlight Local Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship

Dayton History's Carousel of Innovation
Photo by Juliet Fromholt
Dayton History's Carousel of Innovation

Next Saturday marks the grand opening of Dayton History's Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship. WYSO's Juliet Fromholt took a tour of the new facility with Dayton History's President, Brady Kress. They started off in an exhibit room dedicated to NCR.


BRADY KRESS: What we've done here is taken part of the Carillon collection and the NCR archive collection, and before you, kind of enveloping you, are 91 different cash registers that were all built in the John Patterson era. So everything before World War I. The brass, the wood, the chrome, the registers that are here really represent what a manufacturing giant Dayton was. At the time of John Patterson's death in 1922, we controlled 20% of the world's business machine market. I think that's one of the things that will surprise our guests. Not only the beauty that they'll be surrounded by in the room when we're finished and we open, but just this idea that NCR was a calling card around the globe. It was one of the world's first global companies, and it was centered in Dayton, Ohio.


JULIET FROMHOLT: This is the first time most people are to see these machines. Is there a sense of excitement among the staff that you're showing a lot of people something brand new?


BK: Sure, there is. Right now we're in the construction phase, and time is getting short, but I think over the next week before we open it's really going to come to life is when we concentrate on the show. And with that we're going to have background sounds; the lighting's going to be very important so very much in the theatrical way we're going to display these. I think that's when the staff is really going to be excited because we know that when guests walk in, they won't have seen anything like this ever before. Not just from a local perspective with local pride, but I think anyone that's been in the Miami Valley for a few decades, they know someone or have a family member that's worked in one of the General Motors facilities or Meade or Lexis or McCalls, NCR, Duriron. I think these stories that we're telling in one center...I think that's when the goosebumps come out and people say 'Wow, what an incredible place.'


JF: Do you have a favorite either in this room or in one of the others?


BK: In the room, I really like this center cash register that's on the central kiosk. As you pass through this gallery, the first thing you see is the Deeds barn where Delco started. So Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company started in the upstairs hayloft of this carriage house. We moved this carriage house in one piece back in 2009, right onto it's new pad, and we built this 28,000 square foot facility around it. Inside of it we have a whole display on how Delco started, and we have the 1912 Cadillac that's owned by the Kettering family that's got the first starter ignition lighting system on the market.


The two things in the center that are really going to be attractive to teachers and schools and even the after-school groups we see are in two of the other rooms. One is a fully animatronic theatre, and the other is our Carousel of Dayton Innovation. It's full-sized, 36 feet in diameter, hand-carved, hand-painted, built right up in Mansfield, Ohio. It's complete custom-built per our specifications based on the stories and the legacy of Dayton, Ohio. So as you look on this carousel, all of the 31 different features on here tell a different story of the business, of entrepreneurship, of manufacturing. From the Dayton motorcycle that the Davis sewing machine company here in Dayton was producing to the Huffy bicycle to Mike-sell's potato chips to the Iams dog food bag. We have a pop top over there with the Dayton Brewery painted on it, a Mike-sell's delivery truck, your chance to ride on an NCR cash register over on the other side. What's fun about this carousel is that it's fully ADA complaint. So if you're in a wheelchair, come enjoy the carousel because we can get you on the carousel, and then the seat on the cash register lifts up and you can strap a wheelchair right onto it. This whole carousel is also controlled by a converted NCR cash register, and the music that we're preparing right now was recorded in the 1930s and 40s in the NCR Auditorium on the mighty Wurlitzer. So down to the music and the last drop of paint, this is the only carousel like this in the world, and it's strictly Dayton, Ohio.

Juliet Fromholt is proud to be music director at 91.3FM WYSO. Juliet began volunteering at WYSO while working at WWSU, the student station at her alma mater, Wright State University. After joining WYSO's staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy until moving into the music director role in 2021. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week. She also co-hosts Attack of the Final Girls, a horror film review podcast.