Have you taken notice of Troy recently?
Someone who didn’t know any better might think Troy was in the middle of a major economic growth period, rivalled only by Troy’s mid 1950’s-to- late 1960’s population growth and city expansion.
If you have driven around the community in recent weeks, it wouldn’t take long to notice a large number of recently completed projects, ongoing construction and development in our fair city. If you allow me, I would like to take you on a short tour of some of those projects, but, as you know me, I need to throw in some history behind selected portions of land being developed.
The recently completed Treasure Island amphitheater is one of the new additions to the city’s landscape, and a number of residents have already taken advantage of a few musical offerings in that location. The boathouse will soon be a nice restaurant for people to enjoy. Several other restaurants have been in that location, but prior to that it was actually a boathouse!
Way back in the early 1940’s, several area residents, including Dave Netzley and Carl Lamme, who were interested in boating and other water-related activities began clearing the river and its banks of debris and the remains of an old wooden damn, which was located north of the Adams St. Bridge. In due time, E.A. and William Hobart took an interest in the recreational vision and brought in heavy equipment to help the process.
The leaders of the Hobart Brothers company wanted to provide a location for boating enthusiasts, but also for their employees to enjoy the Great Miami River and all the activities associated with water. So, they constructed the boathouse, marina with a launch and a lighthouse with the profits from the company. They even had a ball diamond on the property. Many boating activities, company picnics and carnivals, etc. took place on that site over the years.
In the 1960’s, E.A. Hobart offered the boathouse and the property as a gift to the city, which, following deliberation, decided it would be a good asset to potential recreation plans. It has been used in various ways through the years, but, of course, recent development is bringing that vision to a more full realization.
Another project taking place before our eyes is the addition to Hobart Arena, which will increase the useable area of the building by over 26,000 sq. ft. and allow for diversity in the building and its use. With the recent news of Hara Arena closing, Hobart might once again become one of the premier show and entertainment places in the Miami Valley.
As part of a plan and levy agreement with the residents of the city, Hobart Arena was constructed from late 1948-1950, for recreational and entertainment purposes. It pre-existed Hara, the Nutter Center and other valley facilities and, therefore, was a major venue for many big name entertainers like Elvis, Pat Boone, Liberace, Guy Lombardo, Nat King Cole, Holiday on Ice shows, ice hockey, the Harlem Globetrotters, along with other basketball legends, and many other celebrities. Hobart Arena is one of those unique places that most cities of Troy’s size are not fortunate enough to have.
Out to the west side of Troy, there is also a beehive of activity. The Meijer store is going through a major renovation and facelift after 25 years, and out at one of the corners of the Meijer lot a Chick-fil-A restaurant is being constructed and eagerly anticipated by many area residents.
On the corner opposite of Chick-fil-A, there is now a Circle K fuel center, which, no disrespect intended to Circle K, is not the most exciting development in the city. But that corner has its own particular history.
There are very few people remaining who would remember the farm that used to occupy the corner and 122 acres of the land to the north. Around 1911, Ohio was encouraging development of distinct farms in the individual counties of the state where special inhibitors (pesticides) could be tested on several varieties of crops and seed-types in order to observe the outcome and determine the best results.
This particular corner of Concord Township was part of Miami County’s “Experiment Farm,” thus the name of the road running north from West Main Street. The farm was used for several decades before it was phased out and sold into private ownership.
Although most Trojans do not remember the Experiment Farm, many residents will recall the Friendly Family Restaurant which use to occupy the location. Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, about the only things west of the highway was farmland and a lonely Shell station near the highway. King’s Chapel was developed in the 1960’s, but the first big change was when the Friendly Ice Cream plant was constructed. It was completed in June, 1975. Not too long after that time, the restaurant was built at the corner in front of the plant.
The Friendly Family Restaurant was a place to meet after a football game, ballet performance, or just a “friendly” get-together. It is one of those places that will be fondly remembered for some time like the Gables restaurant, the Empire restaurant and Camp Troy.
In the above story, I mentioned the “lonely” Shell station near the highway. Well, Shell station 3.0 is about to be constructed. All those years ago, the little Shell station was located where the Bob Evans is now situated and had a 60 foot sign nearby to beckon motorists off the highway. As Troy grew and business began to push west of the highway, the Shell Company relocated the service station to its present location, but left the sign in its place. In 1991, when the Bob Evans restaurant was ready to be constructed on the site, they found the sign to be “an obstacle.” So, they requested and had the Shell sign moved to its present location.
As this goes to print, the second Shell building has been razed in preparation for a newer and better building on the same site. So, the oldest business on the west side of the highway is also busy with new construction.
There also seems to be a housing development boom in and around Troy. Names of sub-divisions such as Halifax, the Reserves of Merrimont, Stony Brook, and others dot the landscape around the perimeter of the city. Although they are all interesting to watch, the ones which interest me the most are Halifax and the northern extension of Sherwood, called Nottingham. Halifax is being development on Troy-Urbana Rd at the northeast corner of the city limits. Nottingham is between Troy-Sidney Rd and Piqua-Troy Rd to the north of Troy.
A portion of the Nottingham sub-division and the Halifax development is located on property which belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kidder. Mr. Kidder was the ‘right hand man’ of William Hayner of the Hayner Distilling Co. Georgiana Kidder was William Hayner’s half-sister.
The Kidders purchased the property about 1913 as a summer retreat and in preparation for retirement, and they promptly named the portion that contained the old home and out buildings “Resthaven.” By the time they had finished purchasing property they had accumulated approximately 500 acres of land. It was a working farm with several types of livestock, but specialized in hogs. The property became one of the showplaces of the Miami Valley and hosted several Miami County picnics during the summer months.
After the Kidders died, nobody seemed willing to invest the funds needed to do necessary upkeep and repair on the property and it soon fell into disrepair. One attempt was made in the 1970s to take up the project, but it was soon abandoned.
Now, when you run your errands around Troy you will understand a little more of the history behind the some of the land where new things are happening. Just because there is something new, big and shiny at some location does not mean it is the first thing of importance to take place there.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org