By Barbara Holman and David Beitzel
For more than 135 years, Trinity Church has served as a sanctuary for people of faith in Troy. First as the Episcopal church and in later years for several other church denominations. It may have also served as a safe harbor and place for slaves in the same era as the Underground Railroad. Now, the church is owned by The Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County and has more recently been used as a educational and activity center named for the late Barbel Adkins, founder of the shelter in the 1980s. The land the church stands on at 22 E. Franklin St. is now needed to provide sanctuary for victims of domestic violence and homelessness.
In order to meet the changing needs of the community, The Family Abuse Shelter needs to renovate the Franklin House and add space that allows for separation of domestic violence victims and the homeless as well as for persons who may be older or who may have disabilities. Considerable and lengthy thought and investigation by the shelter staff and board have been given to how these needs can be met. The conclusion is the shelter needs to remain in close proximity to police and court services. The shelter already owns the property where the present shelter and he church stand. To further meet these needs, it will be necessary to add an annex to the Franklin House on the property where the church stands. This decision does not come without controversy. The shelter board and staff recognize and join the dedication and passion for the preservation of Troy historical buildings. At thee time, this concern must be balanced with an overriding need to serve living people in crisis on a regular basis. That need is only becoming greater. All buildings have lifespans and Trinity Church has suffered from multiple alterations. More importantly, the building has suffered significant structural and material deterioration over time. Just to repair and restore the building to structurally sound condition, including the stained glass windows, it would cost in excess of $300,000. Even then, the building still would not meet the shelter’s needs. It is the intent of the shelter board and staff to construct an annex that not only meets the need to add space and separation for homeless and domestic violence victims, but to recognize the history of the site and church.
Last spring, The Family Abuse Shelter board and staff initiated a meeting with representatives of the historical groups in Troy to consider the changing needs of the shelter and the issue of deconstructing or moving Trinity Church. Discussion included the historical significance and the poor structural condition of the church. At that time, the historical representatives requested a second opinion in regard to the condition of the church. The shelter board and staff then obtained opinions if three experts: a highly qualified architect who has worked with the city of Troy in other projects, a respected historian from Centerville and a well regarded structural engineer from the Dayton area. After inspections of the church by these professionals, reports from each were sent to the historical community representatives who have since offered differing opinions. However, The Family Abuse Shelter administrative staff and board remain confident in the integrity and expertise of the above consultants regarding the history and structural condition of Trinity Church.
In addition, the shelter’s board and staff is dedicated to its mission and a vision of the future that will continue the tradition of provided a sanctuary of safety and help to those in need. This includes all persons without discrimination of any kind. Though the population of Miami County has grown since the 1980s, the shelter’s space has not. At any given time, The Franklin House is sheltering an average of 20 women and children daily. The Buckeye House on South Market Street shelters an average of 15 men per day. The vital work that the shelter does is highly regarded by the community and we are grateful for the generosity and support we receive.
We no respectfully request understanding and support to begin the renovation and expansion of the Franklin House.
Barbara Holman is the executive director of The Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County, Inc., and David Beitzel is the president of the shelter’s board of directors.