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Dayton Memories > Frankenstein's Castle at Hills and Dales Park
Frankenstein's Castle at Hills and Dales Park
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1 post
Aug 12, 2009
12:03 PM
A question about the structure that remains boarded up at Hill and Dales Park that has been nicknamed Frankenstein's Castle or Patterson Tower in Kettering Ohio. I have not been able to find out what function the structure was original built to serve. If anybody has that information I know several people who would enjoy the "rest of the story"

123 posts
Aug 12, 2009
1:53 PM
It's been discussed several times on the other section but so far no one has found that answer.
Steve K
68 posts
Aug 13, 2009
7:22 AM
I read that Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park for John H. Patterson and that towers like that were common features of his parks. So I found a book on Olmsted and parks.... guess what? didn't have a single mention of a tower of any sort. Maybe the WPA guys that they think built it just had a bunch of rocks left over from all those little bridges and stuff they built . I haven't even been able to come up with a year that it was built, doesn't seem to show up in any older pictures either, unless Curt has some in the NCR collection? As far as function? It was being used as a urinal the last few times I was inside.
3 posts
Aug 23, 2009
12:08 AM
I dont know the truth behind it but I was told that it belonged to the water board and all it contained was pumps etc. that old place gave me a many fond memory of my teen years.

Here is a story that is on file elsewhere on this site, in case all of you have not seen it.

Legend of the Tower at Hills and Dales Park
Bellbrook Girl Thought Killed by Lightning Bolt

BELLBROOK — A 16-year-old Bellbrook High School sophomore was instantly killed and her 17-year-old male companion, a junior at the school, seriously burned, apparently victims of a bolt of lightning during a severe electrical storm Wednesday night in Kettering.

Kettering Police identified the dead girl as Peggy Ann Harmeson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Harmeson Jr. of 4243 Whites Dr. The injured boy is Ronald Kevin Stevens, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Stevens of 4125 Nedra Dr.

He was listed in fair condition this morning at Kettering Memorial Hospital where he is receiving treatment for burns.

Kettering Police said they received a report at 8:03 p.m. that someone was injured at the Lookout tower in Hills and Dales Park. The tower stands high on a wooded hill on the east side of Patterson Blvd. in the southeast end of the park and is used for observation.

Police found the Stevens boy lying at the foot of the stairs. He had been burned on his chest and face. The Harmeson girl was found nine steps up the tower dead. She had been burned extensively on the face and chest area, police said.

"The best we can tell is sometime around 7:30 there was a bad lightning storm here and apparently a bolt of lightning hit the tower. A ball of fire may have hit at the door and rolled up the stairs. They were no doubt on their way down and she was in front and got the full force," police said. Police said the tower is made of stone. There is a metal gate on the front. Apparently the couple was out driving, decided to visit the observation tower and were caught in the storm. Police said they were not sure of all the details because the boy had not been able to remember exactly what happened.
"The boy was pretty incoherent. He didn't know anything. He thought he had gone home," police said.
The Montgomery County coroner's office said this morning that it had not yet ruled on the cause of death. However, Kettering Police said it no doubt would be ruled accidental death by lightning.

REQUIEM MASS for Miss Harmeson will be held Saturday morning at Church of the Incarnation, Centerville, with Rev. Raymond C. Kallaher in charge. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Dayton. Friends may call at the R.L. Ullmer & Son Kettering Chapel, 4100 Benfield Dr., Friday from 3 to" 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.

She is survived by her parents; her paternal grandmother, Mrs. Blanche Harmeson of Dayton; two sisters, Nancy Kay and Susan Marie, and two brothers, Mark Timothy and Stephen Roy.

She was active in the Girl Scouts and was a member of Senior Troop 771 of Bellbrook

Last Edited by on Aug 25, 2009 10:02 PM
12 posts
Jan 29, 2010
7:27 PM
Okay you guys owe me again. Here is a pic of how it looked in its heyday.
Steve K
169 posts
Jan 30, 2010
12:59 PM
Newzoo.... thanks for the link... there are a lot of Parkmoor photos at this website as well!
13 posts
Jan 31, 2010
11:59 AM
Yes I posted the link to it on one of the many Parkmoore posts.
10 posts
Feb 11, 2011
11:02 PM
When I went there was no roof on it. Cool pic, thank you very much!
1 post
Jan 14, 2013
9:25 AM
My grandfather worked for NCR way back in the 1920’s and his biggest hobby was local history and long ago he told me the tower was built between 1906 and 1918 by the Olmsted Brothers who was hired by John Patterson to design and build Hills and Dales Park. John Patterson wanted the Olmstead brothers to do their best to model the park after an area of the Adirondack Mountain’s John Patterson use to vacation. The tower was a part of that model and is nothing more than an observation tower to overlook the park and was designed after a tower that once stood in an area of the Adirondack Mountain’s that John Patterson vacationed. Growing up in the Dayton area I remember climbing the tower many a times before they sealed it up in the mid 80’s. Until I saw the picture I never knew it once had a roof. Always remember the winding staircase being full of broken glass.
Steve K
201 posts
Jan 15, 2013
8:07 AM
Never heard the story about the Adirondack Mountain connection before.... I read that towers were a common feature of parks designed by the Olmsted's, so I found a book about the subject.... It didn't have a single park listed with a tower! Not sure what I think about the tower being build in 1906-1918... many sources think it was a WPA project which I think would have placed it in the 1930's?
1 post
May 16, 2014
12:51 PM
I was near the tower when the 2 teens were struck by lightning. I was 9 years old. Some things I remember very clearly (like my fear), some things not so clearly. We were on a girl scout outing and there were a group of us kids and at least a couple Moms, my Mom being one. The storm was getting bad so we were in a hurry to pack things up and get out of there. We heard the sirens coming our direction. Then the ambulances arrived at the tower. I wonder if anyone else remembers being close to the tower that evening. My Mom called it Pattersons Tower in "her day". Her and my dad were "visitors" at the tower back then. Hmmm (lol). In the 70's we called it Witches Tower and I'm told in the 80's it was called Frankensteins Castle. Its will always be Witches Tower to me. I'll always remember that bad night near the tower. So sad. But there were other tower memories too. Nah..what happened in the tower...stays in the tower.

Last Edited by Michelle7 on May 16, 2014 12:53 PM
1 post
May 20, 2014
5:51 PM
Www.daytonunknown.wordpress.com Here's an article that explains it a little bit.
1 post
Dec 13, 2014
1:51 AM
I've been there I've walked around the outside of the structure.What the media and 'folklore' say about the turret I don't believe the hype.I wanted to get more info on the tower but am stumped as to where to go to look it up.Sad thing is, t doesn't seem to be well maintained as it should be. As to dating the structure id say its more to be when they built the area. Look at the walls and bridges near by the cobblestone its all got to be the same era. The other question though I have cobblestone was more popular in the early 1900's , someone said 1930's but how so since the 30's was the year people were trying to go more modern?
Would love to find more info but even the historic society couldn't tell me anything so once again i am empty handed for answers.
luv my dayton
762 posts
Dec 15, 2014
7:06 PM
Patterson tower,witches tower,Frankensteins castle are the names given. John Patterson had it built and used as an oberservation tower.Back in 1960 some kids out walking when a storm hit and sought shelter in the tower not aware of an iron railing. Lightening hit the top of railing and a couple of the kids leaning on railing were electrocuted. Curiosity seekers would go to see the charred prints on the railing so rather than had anyone else hurt on the property was sealed off. Over the years it became a source of tall tales. Don't look for it to be made new as it was never been anything but an observation tower for Mr Patterson to overlook all that he owned at that time. He contributed greatly to the growing of Dayton and providing jobs for thousands over the decades.
237 posts
Dec 15, 2014
11:10 PM
On topics like this, I always like to go to Google Maps to view the object in question. It has been a long time since I've visited Hills & Dales park (I used to play golf at Community Golf Course when I lived I the Dayton area), so I had some trouble locating the Stone Tower. The Hills & Dales MetroPark website map showed me where it was located, so I eventually found it. It was identifiable in the Google Maps satellite view, but zooming in to the bird's eye view completely obscured the tower with the tree canopy. I looked at the adjacent street view along South Patterson Blvd., and the tower was barely visible in that view as well.

I assume it would be different if I was on the ground walking along the Adirondack Trail, but it seems a shame that such an iconic structure is now mostly hidden.
luv my dayton
763 posts
Dec 16, 2014
8:25 AM
As we all have learned here in Dayton nothing is sacred and many places that once were important have been dismantled or in ruins due to lack of funds. Those who care to see what was should go to visit Carillon Park where the past can be viewed and absolutely takes you back. There is a fee that is charged now. The big new restaurant and brewery now open and looks like business really booming.A wonderful place to spend the day even if your not touring the old historical buildings. For some interesting reading with pages of pictures and history see if the library would have Weird Ohio by James Willis,Andrew Henderson, Loren Coleman.Fun read about local legends and best kept secrets with photos. Yes suicide hill was near the same area. Of course all have seen John Patterson on his mount as through he was looking over his land.

Last Edited by luv my dayton on Dec 16, 2014 8:30 AM
18 posts
Dec 19, 2014
12:25 PM
From the info that Curt has uncovered and the one newspaper article from the 1930's that I've seen in person the Tower isn't Patterson era. He died in May 1922. The tower was built by a youth version of the WPA in the 30's with reclaimed stone from razed buildings in Dayton. If you've ever seen photos of Hills and Dales during the time Patterson lived the location that the Tower is now wasn't the best view. It would have been inspiration point which is at the top of the hill where Ridgeway and Oak Knoll intersect. If you've ever been back there the original 4 sided chimney is still standing. In the article I've read it compares the Stone Tower at Hill and Dales the the Schantz Tower that used to be in Oakwood which had been dismantled and turned into a home. So the idea was it replaced the Schantz Tower.
10 posts
Dec 21, 2014
4:47 PM
See this YouTube video about the tower:

115 posts
Jan 02, 2015
8:19 AM
Go past that forgotten place every day on my way home from work as it is pleasant to drive through the park rather than just go down the thoroughfares which could get me home much quicker. Its all about the drive not the time it takes to get there most of the time. To bad they cannot embrace it instead of simply blocking it up for no one else to ever see from it again. Shame... But thats The metro parks and Kettering. No thoughts being imputed...

Last Edited by FreedomWriter on Jan 02, 2015 8:20 AM
72 posts
Feb 14, 2015
7:43 PM
In the late '70s, we could still sneak into the tower (which we always called Frankenstein's Castle) and climb the stone stairs to the top, where we'd stand on the open roof (no ceiling then) and smoke dope. Wild, stupid, crazy fun days...
40 posts
Mar 31, 2015
5:49 PM
I remember being at the top of the tower drinking beer with a friend and the police showed up. They lectured us and poured the beer out and sent us on our way. We were thankful for that. Teens.....sigh....
2 posts
Apr 26, 2015
10:01 PM
Ive been inside this tower a few times. At one point the whole doorway was busted out. Just walked on in... At that time there was a roof with a small hole in the middle.
blue J
169 posts
Apr 30, 2015
1:06 PM
My mother still lives in a house back in Hills and Dales park...I rode my bike around those hills, in that part of Kettering and all through the west side of Oakwood, when I was a kid. Since we lived back there, I stopped at that castle a few times, and did go up inside it with some friends when I was a kid. Only went up to the top of it a couple of times.

As a side note- a little further north on Patterson, the John Henry Patterson monument- does anyone know when that was dedicated, and how long it's been there?

Edit: Never mind, I just found the answer myself. It was dedicated in 1928.

Last Edited by blue J on Apr 30, 2015 1:13 PM

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