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Jul
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2022
Village Life

The slab of concrete that once held up a walkway to a dance pavilion in the Glen. (photo by Aaron Zaremsky)

Forgotten Springs, Vol. 5 – The Dance Pavilion / The Neff Grounds Park

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Forgotten Springs, Volume 5 – The Dance Pavilion / The Neff Grounds Park

A monolithic concrete testament to an older time in this village stands at the northernmost point of Glen Helen; near thin, winding paths that hardly see use. A slab, broken in many places, crumbling and blistering with weeds and moss, stretches across the forest floor, paving the way to a forgotten space, now empty.

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               There once stood, many years ago, a building at the end of this path. Indeed, much of the landscape around the crumbling concrete used to be different. For one, the area was dammed up to create a manmade lake, which has all but disappeared. The crumbling concrete was used as a support structure to hold the planks of wood used as a walkway to the building, a dance pavilion, built in hopes that it would attract more patrons to the area.

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               As many residents know, the town of Yellow Springs has always been cordial to tourists and out of town guests. In its infancy, the town hosted by means of a hotel on the Glen Helen property (one of the first buildings in town). The hotel had numerous owners over the years. The Neff Brothers had ownership of the property by the time the 1820s rolled around, but the hotel business was not doing so well. In order to drum up customer interest, the Neffs created a poll to see what else people wanted. The results were that some people wanted to swim or boat. Now, there was no major waterways in the immediate area, so a dam was built to flood the Glen, creating a manmade lake for folks to swim and paddle around in.

               What else did the people want? Swimming and boating surely couldn’t satisfy everyone, so the Neff’s also built a large dance pavilion to go with everything. It all became sort of an amusement park, one large entertainment and lodging gala in the woods – “The Neff Grounds Park”.

               The walkway in question was built to get patrons to the pavilion from the north entrance to the Glen, now along Route 343. The concrete slabs are all that remain of this pavilion and walkway. The building was torn down in the 1950s. The lake is gone as well. The Neffs did not maintain ownership of the property once Antioch College became involved with the Glen, so much has changed, and dramatically so, in this particularly small nature preserve in our quaint village. If you are feeling adventurous, follow the paths north (they are smaller and harder to see/traverse up there) to get to the abandoned pathway. It is a fascinating artifact to the bygone lore of the Glen and Yellow Springs.

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Historic photos courtesy of Antiochiana at Antioch College and Glen Helen

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2 Responses to “Forgotten Springs, Vol. 5 – The Dance Pavilion / The Neff Grounds Park”

  1. Christopher Joseph says:

    If hunting around for the old dance hall I’ve wondered where the Neff hotel sat as well in the Glen, pictures of it looks like a massive structure. Visit the trailside museum and they feature more pictures and a timeline of the Neff family ventures and eventual formation of the Glen Helen.

    More fascinating information, this is a great series that has seemed to dry up as well in 2017, any plans to continue it YS News? Ideas could be with the removal of the Horace Mann statue by Antioch recently there is a forgotten obelisk to Hugh Taylor Birch father tucked away in the nearby woods on Bryan Park Road.
    Nearby Goes Station has the old Fireworks Building sitting abandoned beside the bike trail. The old crumbling greenhouse on South High St. would be an interesting story especially with many of the old plants growing in this area. There was also an entire neighborhood at the end of West Herman st. that has all disappeared. The revelation of an illegal dump at the end of Southgate Ave would be a good story to cover as well. Unfortunately, humans continue to find an excuse to destroy the planet just to save a proper disposal fee. The origin of the Glen Helen covered bridge would be interesting as well, I believe it’s merely half of a longer length bridge that used to sit south of Xenia that blew down in the 74 tornadoes. I am sure there are many more hidden gems in the area that would be great to continue this series if people would submit. A link connecting these on the YS News website would be nice to add as well. Thank you!

  2. Leonard DeBerry says:

    I have a book from Miami U titled The Rural Surveys of Greene and Clermont Counites published in 1914. It mentioned Neff Park and a lake that was in Yellow Springs. I have lived in Green Co. for 60 years and have never heard anything about the lake or park. Next time I hike the Glen I will make a point to look for the concrete slab.

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