Dayton is a small town that’s brimming with history. It is one of the oldest settlements in Rockingham County and the second oldest incorporated town in the area. Living here is like taking a step back to a simpler and more laid-back time – an antidote to the hustle and bustle of city living.
The town is surrounded by prime agricultural land. It is home to some 1,500 residents and is part of the Harrisonburg Metropolitan Statistical Area. To this day, many exquisitely preserved heritage houses and historic sites still stand here.
Dayton is located in the heart of Shenandoah Valley and is just two miles south of Harrisonburg via Route 42.
A brief history
The town traces its roots to Daniel Harrison, a New Yorker who became the very first settler in the area. His family’s two-floor homestead along Cooks Creek has since been converted into a museum and is a national historic registered landmark.
The place was called Rifeville or Rifetown until 1833 when it assumed its current name of Dayton.
Dayton was also the original home of Shenandoah University which, at that time, was called the Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music.
Awards and recognitions
Its small-town charm, competitive economy, excellent schools, and clean surroundings have led Dayton to become one of the best places to live in Virginia.
BestPlaces.net has given Dayton the following high ranks over all other US towns and cities:
- #18 among Emerging Metropolitan Areas
- #23 among the Most Competitive Public Colleges
- #50 among the Best Green Cities
Dayton, VA real estate
As mentioned before, there are many historically significant properties in Dayton, most which are located downtown. The presence of heritage homes helps buoy overall property prices in the area.
Most of the available properties here are single-family homes. There are a variety of house styles available, from rustic log cabins to quaint bungalows, to modern constructions and even historic manors from the 1900s.
Some of the properties in town are on acreages, giving residents a truly rural and laid-back vibe. Many of the homes also offer excellent views of the nearby mountains.
Living in Dayton, VA
- History and culture
The Heritage Museum on High Street is a mandatory stop. The said museum features galleries, exhibits, an electric map of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign, and an extensive genealogy library.
You should also visit the Daniel Harrison House (built in 1749), the oldest house in Dayton and one of the oldest in Rockingham County.
The Silver Lake Mill, meanwhile, was built in 1822 and now houses a gift shop that features milled-themed products and souvenirs.
- The outdoors
Being at the center of Shenandoah Valley, Dayton offers a wealth of outdoor activities to choose from. Whether it’s hiking through lush Appalachian trails, biking along the pastoral landscapes of Central Shenandoah Valley, or exploring Endless Caverns at Massanutten Mountain, there’s something for everyone.
Dayton is primarily served by two excellent public schools: Ottobine Elementary and Wilbur S. Pence Middle School. High school students, meanwhile, are served by Turner Ashby High School.
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