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Life on Brown Street, 1920

By Bridget Retzloff and Heidi Gauder

This year, we created an activity that asked students to consider what life was like around the University of Dayton in 1920. As they began to describe the north student neighborhood, we observed that Rogge Street was home to a number of immigrants. We also began to wonder about the main thoroughfare, Brown Street, and how it might have contributed to the social fabric of that neighborhood. We picked up from Sinclair Community College librarian Andrew Walsh’s description of Brown Street and added more. Using Sanborn maps, newspaper articles and other online sources, we pieced together how the residents of this neighborhood, known as South Park at that time, depended on Brown Street for safety, foodstuffs, household goods and more.  

On this interactive StoryMap, you can go back in time for a tour of 10 businesses on and off Brown Street and learn about some of the people, buildings and building locations that contributed to the Dayton economy. 

  • Mitchell Brothers / 858 Brown St.
  • Boehner’s Flowers / 216 Obell Court
  • John F. Class Vaporized Mineral Fume Bath Parlor / 1106 Brown St. 
  • Deger’s Bakery / 1200 Brown St.
  • Fire Station 11 / 934 Brown St.
  • Harshbarger Grocery / 1043 Brown St.
  • Horlacher Florist / 919 Alberta Ave.
  • Rogge Groceries and Provisions / 1001 Brown St.
  • South End Pharmacy / 1082 Brown St.
  • Stickle Brewery / 228 E. Apple St.

What are your memories of Brown Street?  Share your thoughts with us here!

— Bridget Retzloff is a research librarian and lecturer in the University Libraries. Heidi Gauder is a professor and coordinator of research and instruction in the University Libraries.

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