History of the Dayton Flag
Dayton's First Flag
The need for a Dayton flag “for local uses and to inspire civic patriotism” was identified by the directors of the Greater Dayton Association in 1915, including Houston Lowe, C. H. Kumler, Annie Campell, W. B. Werthner, and J. M. Guild, who created the process and recommended a design to the City Commission.
A cash prize was offered for the best design and was awarded to Harvey King of Dayton because “his sketch was dedicated to be the most artistic.” It was later found to be impracticable to produce, and the committee worked to make a design that “while artistic and emblematic of the city, would also be sufficiently simple for manufacturing and commercial purposes.”
Mabel Hyer (later Griep), an assistant art teacher at Steele High School, was tasked in preparing the design that was later adopted. The design features a Wright Flyer in the middle and two orange stripes on either side. When Mrs. Griep went to go sketch the Wright Flyer when it was on display at the Delco electrical exposition in 1916, she said onlookers took her “for a German spy” while making her detailed sketch of the plane. She knew the Wright Brothers, and often played with their sister, Katherine, at the old bicycle shop where the Wrights conducted their experiments.
A Dayton Pennant was also designed. Both the flag and pennant include the colors deep orange to symbolize agricultural resources, white to symbolize civic righteousness, and navy blue to represent loyalty of the citizens. Both were eventually adopted by the City Commission on August 15, 1917.
Dayton's Second Flag
On January 23, 1956, The Dayton Area Chamber opened a city-wide contest to replace the flag and urged the City Commission to adopt a new flag. The Chamber reasoned this because the 1917 flag had colors that “faded rapidly, making it unsuitable for public display” (namely the deep orange faded into a sickly yellow over time). They also said that the old flag was not “suitable for such a display” and they wanted something “new and modern."
The chamber held a public contest with a cash prize and judged it based on originality, simplicity, and effectiveness. Judges included Thomas C. Colt, director of the Dayton Art institute, William Chait, Montgomery County public library director, Mayor R. William Patterson, Kenneth P. Morse, Chamber president, and City Manager Herbert W. Starick.
Contest winners were Michael J. Spahr, who designed the Dayton lettering down the side, and Karen Kress, who designed the center emblem of the Kitty Hawk plane, globe, and gear. They were designed to develop the final flag, and collectively split $100.
This flag was voted to be the Flag Emeritus, a special designation in the City of Dayton Code of Ordinances, on the same day as the adoption of the new Dayton Flag on December 15, 2021.