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Parks Department
Courthouse Square Park History

Fountain and Bandstand

Located in the heart of downtown Dayton, this wooded area is full of mementoes of the town's history.  In 1853, Joel Palmer offered this block of city lots for use as a public square in hopes of obtaining the Yamhill county Court House.  He also offered $200.00 for construction costs.  Since Lafayette became the County Seat on September 9, 1858, the block has become a city park, a memorial to those early days.
The Old Blockhouse which stands in the square is an outstanding memorial to Palmer's name.  Built at the Grand Ronde Reservation, John Lewis instigated the bringing of the fort to Dayton.  Permission was obtained from the federal government to move it to Dayton in 1911.  Restoration was done by two Thomas brothers and Fred Reichstein.

It was dedicated August 13, 1912. Also included in the square is a Joel Palmer landmark which was dedicated in July 25, 1971.
Other special interests include a World War II cannon.  This cannon was given to the City of Dayton to replace the earlier World War I cannon which was given as scrap metal at the start of World War II.  An old fire bell is a replica of the earlier one that was used to warn of fires in early Dayton.  The earlier one was also given as scrap metal.
In the center of the square is a ornate fountain and bandstand.  In 1962 the roof of the bandstand was destroyed during the Columbus Day Storm.  The Bandstand was rebuilt with the generosity, gifts and donations of citizens in and around Dayton.  It was

dedicated in 1989. The original Bandstand was built in the mid 1920's.
This square was the scene of the Old Timers Picnic that was held annually on the last weekend of July.  The first Old Timers Picnic in the Dayton City Park began in 1934.  It was a day set aside for all Dayton residents to renew old friendships and make new ones.  The picnic began as a town wide potluck with all participants contributing to one main table.
Throughout the years, the gathering had become a time of family reunitings, and class reunions.  In 1980 the Old Timers Weekend was coined in order to celebrate 100 years of incorporation of the City of Dayton.  Events such as a parade and a chicken barbecue high-lighted the Saturday and Sunday affair.

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