The Doyle Country Club, Mary Ingles Highway, Dayton, Kentucky, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior on March 13, 2017. The National Register is the nation’s official list of historic properties worthy of preservation.
Dayton Kentucky is known for its rich architectural heritage of the old river town. The Doyle Country Club, est. 1919, retains the distinct characteristics of a twentieth century River Camp Community, as well as its association with recreation and entertainment on Bellevue/Dayton’s Ohio Riverfront during the period of significance, 1920-1966.
During the first three decades of the 20th century, a thriving riverfront emerged in Dayton. These entertainment and recreation venues were very popular, drawing crowds of thousands on the weekend. These venues were often referred to as the Ohio River Beach Resorts. Ohio River Camps were also quite popular in the early part of the 20th century in the towns of Bellevue and Dayton Kentucky as elsewhere. These communities, for the most part, were short lived due to impermanent construction, rising river levels and seasonal flooding.
Located within blocks of Dayton’s riverfront entertainment district, Doyle’s riverfront property provided a rural oasis amid a thriving urban area. Thick groves of shade trees, lush grassy areas, sandy beaches and shallow water offered an ideal place for picnics, fishing, boating, sunbathing and swimming. The club rented picnic areas, baseball diamonds and horseshoe courts for athletic events and contests. In the 1920’s, folks coming to Doyles were charged a 5-cent visitor fee; by 1935 the visitor fee was 25 cents and children continued to be free. Many folks remember summer dances in Doyle’s Dance Pavilion.
The Doyle Country Club has endured a remarkable time and remains considerably intact, giving a rare glimpse of a vibrant time when these communities provided a popular summer escape from the heat of summer in the city. Current members, including several descendants of original members of the camp from 1919, still bring their families to Doyle’s the first warm days of spring. Most of the Doyle Country Club structures and summer cottages contribute to the historic resources. The Dance Pavilion, dedicated on June 21, 1921, continues as the focal point of the community identity and activity.
Submitted by: Marcele Sanzenbacker, member
Author of the Doyle Country Club Historic Preservation Nomination