May Promenade showcases historic homes in Hamilton’s Dayton Lane Historic District

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON — On Sunday, guests will have a chance to take a horse-drawn trolley ride as they go back in time, surrounded by live music, antique bicyclers and impressive sights inside some of Hamilton’s homes, gardens and a house of worship during May Promenade.

“We are very excited about having the tour back. We haven’t had an event since 2018. Traditionally, we have it every other year, and 2020 just didn’t quite work out as you know,” said Dr. Tom Nye, chair of the event, in the Dayton Lane Historic District. Dr. Nye is also a Doctor of Optometry in town.

The event takes place in the area of Dayton Street and Campbell Avenue.

The group looked at holding the event in 2021, but due to the pandemic, they decided not to host the event. Many people were still skittish about getting out, and it also meant homeowners would be opening their homes to the public during the pandemic.

About 500 attendees typically participate. Guests have included a mix of history enthusiasts, potential homebuyers, antique collectors and out of town visitors.

“It’s a fun event. It’s a great way to show of the neighborhood to folks that, maybe, only drive through, and haven’t ever been able to come in and see the inside of the homes. So, we’re proud of our homes and we are excited to show them off,” said Nye, who owns a home on Dayton Lane, one of the homes featured on this year’s tour.

He said Hamilton’s history is vibrant, and it’s important to pass that on to future generations.

“There are people who will come to the tour and say, ‘I’ve lived in Hamilton all my life and I didn’t realize what sort of treasures we have right here. So, we are opening our doors to let people see what those treasures are, and I think it’s important to pass that legacy along,” Nye said.

This is a self-guided, walking tour of historic homes. A horse-drawn trolley ride is included with the purchase of a ticket. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. Tickets are available at

There will be 12 homes on the tour that guests can go inside as well as a stop at Trinity Episcopal Church. The gardens will be open at two of the locations. Some homes are more contemporary, while others are very Victorian in nature. At each tour stop, homeowners volunteer to open their homes for the day. The event was first started by Dr. Sherry Corbett and Dr. Bob Sherwin.

“We are trying hard to turn the clock back 140 years, to really give a sense for what it was like at the turn of the 20th Century,” Nye said.

The Hamilton Jazz Band will perform, wandering from location to location, and there will be about a dozen hi-wheel cyclists riding around the neighborhood. The neighborhood will be closed to through traffic.

“It really gives you a sense of pride knowing that you’re preserving the history for future generations. Many homes get knocked down long before this. So, we’re paying it forward and preserving this history for the next generation,” Nye explained.

It’s not a cookie-cutter neighborhood. In addition to the homes being different, homeowners in the neighborhood come from all walks of life, which add to the neighborhood’s diversity. The homes also display each homeowners own personal flair and style.

“One nice thing I like about the Dayton Lane Historic District is many of the original homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1880′s and 1890′s and you will find a real eclectic mix of the styles that you see in the area,” Nye said.

Business owners lived right next door to the workers that worked in their companies, he said. So, it was very much a mixed neighborhood and that is one of the things that makes the homes unique.

“There might be a very prominent home on a corner and right next to it, there might be a more vernacular home, where workers might have lived,” he said.

Funds raised at the event will support the Dayton Lane Historic District, a non-profit that helps maintain the historic integrity and beauty of the neighborhood, including its park, public landscapes, and other projects benefitting the nationally registered historic district.

“Most of funds we direct towards maintenance of the Campbell Avenue Park and our gateways on Dayton Street, and other neighborhood activities,” Nye said.

How to go

What: May Promenade

When: 1- 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Dayton Lane Historic District, Hamilton. Start location Campbell Avenue Park Gazebo, Campbell Avenue at North 9th Street.

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 the day of the event.

More info: No parking will be allowed in the district during tour hours. Parking is available in the city lot at Butler Street and Dayton Street, off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Some locations require masks. Rain or shine event.

About the Author