The educational system in Troy, much like other places, developed and expanded with its accompanying facilities over the past 200, plus years of its history.
Like Abraham Lincoln reading by the light of the fireplace, many children of the early pioneers were taught at home by their parents. Although many of them learned to read and write, much of what they learned was more practical, like farming, animal husbandry, household care, etc. Soon there was an interest in teaching the ‘Three R’s’ in a more formal setting.
Many of the early schools in Troy were the church buildings, such as the Baptist, Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodist church buildings. Parents would pay a subscription to the teacher on a per student basis for the education of the young people.
The first official school building in Troy was “The Academy,” which was erected in 1824 and located on the northwest corner of W. Main and Oxford, the present location of the Troy-Miami County Public Library. It was used for several years before it was turned over to the African-American community as a school house.
In 1837, a law was passed that allowed taxation for the purpose of establishing and maintaining elementary and grammar schools. Later, in 1851, another law permitting public high schools to be established was put into effect. At that point, Troy established its first school board, and construction of the Union School on the old Academy site was initiated. In 1852, Troy students, from youngest to high school age, excepting the Black students, gathered in the Union school building for their education. Four years later, the first Troy High School class graduated with four members.
Around 1865, a school, named in honor of the late president, was started for the young people of the African-American community and was located on the site of the Lincoln Community Center. In the early 1870’s, Troy took advantage of a new law and integrated their schools.
During the mid-to-late 1860’s, the school board decided they needed a school on the east side of Troy, which was expanding at the time, so it conducted a study of where to locate the structure, finally settling on the old city cemetery bounded by Franklin, Crawford, Canal and Union streets. The edifice which was constructed in 1874 was called ‘Forest’ because of all the large amount of trees located on the property and in that part of the city.
It was also during this period that a new roof was put on the Union school and it was renamed Edwards School, in honor of Troy’s first superintendent, William Norton Edwards, who had died in 1867.
As a result of more students attending school, coupled with the population growth in the city, the board of education decided it was time for a new high school building. The administration settled on several lots bounded by Plum, Raper (now Terrace Place), Simpson and South Cherry. The school, which cost almost twice as much as originally estimated, was opened in 1884 and was named for former board member Barton Kyle, who had died at the Battle of Shiloh, during the War Between the States.
As buildings aged, decisions had to be made concerning their long term usefulness in the community. So, in 1891, it was decided that the old Edwards building needed to be demolished and a new building constructed. The new Edwards School was completed and ready in 1892 and served the community for almost 80 years. This latter building, which many residents still remember, was razed in 1973, and the property was sold to the public library board for a new library building.
For reasons unknown at this time, a new Forest School was erected in 1905 to replace the one which was barely 30 years old. It, like its predecessor, was situated on the north end of the lot, near Franklin Street.
Just after 1910, it became apparent that the high school (Kyle) was fast approaching capacity. With this in mind, the Troy Board of Education sought out a location as well as plans for a new high school building in the city. Numerous sites were contemplated and even visited. The board found the property offered by Jennie Adams, on East Main Street, as the site which best met the criteria for their plans.
The Van Cleve High School was constructed in 1914 and opened in the fall of 1915. It was named after another beloved superintendent, C.L. Van Cleve.
When Margaret Heywood died in the spring of 1919, she provided for some of her near relatives in her estate, but she also remembered Troy education and left a fair some for that time to the Board of Education. In 1930, her estate for educational purposes was worth about $35,000. The funds were used in the midst of the Depression to build a new elementary school needed along Troy’s eastern boundary. In 1931, the school was opened and named in honor of the benefactor.
By 1949, Troy had grown again and the Forest Elementary School was busting at the seams. While the old school at the north end of the lot continued to be used, a new modern structure was constructed at the south end of the lot, near Canal Street. The new facility cost $470,000 and was opened in 1950.
In the summer of 1950, the old majestic Kyle building, which had already lost two of its distinctive towers, was razed to make way for a new building. The new Kyle Elementary School was completed and ready for students in 1952.
In late 1954, the school administration offered to both the Concord Township School (K-8) and the Miami Central School an opportunity to become part of the Troy School District. Concord, after some discussion, decided this was in their best interest and accepted the offer. Initially, it looked as if Miami Central would join as well, but, after an official vote, the parents decided they wanted to stay separate. Miami Central and other local township schools soon joined together and developed the Miami East School District.
The next surge of construction took place in the mid 1950’s-to-mid-1960’s, when the school administrators realized more expansion and needs were coming as a result of a population boom Troy was experiencing.
Although the Van Cleve High School was only about 40 years old, it was also being outpaced by the population growth of the high school student body. In addition, the need for facilities in newer subdivisions, such as Westbrook and Meadowlawn was clear. In order to lessen some of the crowding, the old Forest building was used as a junior high school for a few years.
When the new Troy High School was opened in the fall of 1958, elementary students from the north side of the river, in Culbertson Heights, attended classes in one wing of the new building to further alleviate crowding in the other schools. The Van Cleve building was then utilized as the junior high school
In 1964 and 1967, respectively, the Cookson Elementary and Hook Elementary schools were opened. Cookson, in Meadowlawn, was named for Superintendent Charles W. Cookson. The Westbrook school was named for Superintendent Thomas E. Hook.
In 1952, Miami County parents of developmentally disabled children initiated the Riverside school and met in Piqua for classes. In 1964, the complex across from Duke Park was opened for education. Through changes in federal laws which required ‘mainstreaming’ of the young people, they were integrated into the public schools through the 1995-2002 period.
The early 1970’s brought another building project before the school administration in the need for a new larger and modern junior high. The current Troy Junior High building was opened in 1973 and cost approximately $2,500,000.
When the new junior high opened the Van Cleve building was transformed into an elementary school. Later, Van Cleve became a dedicated 6th Grade school, and today remains the only school building in Troy to have been utilized separately as an elementary, 6th grade, junior high and high school facility.
Of course, although not affected by the levy on the November ballot, the city also has two private schools in Troy.
St. Patrick’s Catholic School began educating students in 1888. Little by little, the student body of the school grew until new facilities were needed. The current school building was opened in 1953.
Troy Christian Schools grew out of the pre-school & nursery school program of First Baptist Church, beginning in the 1960’s. In 1980, TCS offered K-5 classes to the community and continued to grow in size and need. In 1990, the Christian school became independent from First Baptist Church and six years later came under the authority of Dayton Christian Schools in order to offer high classes, and thus becoming a Pre-school through Grade 12 institution. It is independent and owns the buildings and property on McKaig and South Dorset.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to email@example.com