By Cody Willoughby
TROY — It can be easy to take for granted the containments of old, large structures around town, many of which blend into the townscape as part of the scenery. The Dye Building on Troy’s Public Square, which has proven to be one of the city’s flagship historical landmarks, may stand as such a structure to many. However, since coming under new ownership and being briefly re-opened for public viewing in recent months, the building has become a more relevant spot for growth than its been in decades, and could soon house a number of new tenants, both commercially and residentially.
Located at the southeast corner of Troy’s public square, the building was first erected in the wake of the Civil War, when William Henry Harrison Dye began purchasing lots in 1864 and started construction in 1865. Dye was likely the wealthiest citizen in Troy following the war, and also at the time of his death in 1900. Upon entering his semi-retirement aroudn 1865, Dye began to invest his fortune in various pursuits, this building likely standing as one of his investments.
In its early history, the Dye building housed the Mammoth Boot & Shoe Store, C.Q. Sabin’s dental office, the E.R. Rinehart Cash Drug store, Eli Kelly’s book and stationery store (which also specialized in the sale of musical organs, as well as over a dozen other short-lived shops and drugstores.
In 1871, Troy’s first private bank, W.H.H. Dye & Son, premiered on the building’s ground floor before eventually selling to a firm in Dayton in 1879. A bank remained in this location until around 1900.
During the 1880s, usage of the building’s third floor took off within the community, housing the Knights of Pythias, Troy Dancing Club, school functions, firemen’s balls, holiday balls, and countless parties and masquerades.
As early as 1927, G.C. Murphy & Co. opened its doors in the Dye building, taking up the entire ground floor and housing grocery and general shopping needs for the whole city. G.C. Murphy & Co. closed their doors around 1971, and when that happened, the building became vacant after more than a century of frequent use.
Most of the building remained empty for 16 years, until the 7. S. Market St.plot became the home of the Upper Krust Restaurant in 1987. Taggarts Restaurant replaced it in 1988, and remained in the same location until the spring of 2007, prior to the sale of the building to Tony Blundell of the Medallion Investment Group, who had extensive plans to fully restore the entire building.
In January 2008, the Caroline opened its doors to the public. Second floor renovations were completed in December of the same year, including the construction of a new elevator and division of the space into office suites. Small businesses began leasing out of the second floor suites in 2011.
Smith, the proprietor of the Caroline, acquired ownership of the entire building in 2017, and is moving forward on plans to renovate all three floors for use by the public.
According to Smith, the recent Second Story Secrets tour, which took place in downtown Troy on Saturday, Nov. 4, helped to bring attention to the building and elicit public interest.
“In the days following that event, we’ve had several inquiries about the spaces on the third floor,” Smith said. “One of them was a pretty serious inquiry that’s gotten us to move forward on cost estimates, which should be in by next week.”
Smith’s intention for the third floor is to update the two ballrooms for residential living, while leaving a lot of the space’s historical elements intact.
“We want to maintain as much of the building’s history as possible,” Smith said. “We’re maintaining the high ceilings. We plan on using the original pocket doors, which separated the two ballrooms. The brickwork, stonework, and flooring will all stay. The historic district requires us to put back something close to the original parts if replacements on things like windows are needed, but if there’s a way to save items, we will.”
On the second floor, Smith hopes to lease the two vacant office suites, both of which have recently been repainted and carpeted.
“One suite would be great for a small business,” Smith said, “as we already have a desk or two available for offices.”
The suite runs 780 square feet, and sits just off of a common area with conference and kitchen space.
Within the other suite, Smith has some short-term plans connected to the Caroline downstairs.
“We’re looking to do dinner and group rentals out of the corner suite for eight to 10 people at a time. We think it would be perfect for those who want to take advantage of the scenic view downtown. You can’t get that anywhere else in the square. We’ve already had groups contact us for Christmas parties. We’re pushing the envelope slowly to see how it goes. I put out the ad on Facebook, though, and had seven inquiries within 24 hours.”
Overall, Smith is optimistic about forthcoming developments, and encourages contact from those interested in leasing the space.
For more information on the Dye Building’s history, visit www.thecarolineonthesquare.com/the-dye-building. For inquiries and reservations for the second floor space, visit The Caroline on Facebook, or call (937) 552-7676.