It Happened Years Ago

Aaah, growing a city … is, well, like raising children. Each decision can impact your child’s life and growth in the years to come. I mean, if your son or daughter is allergic to synthetic fabric, then you should probably stop clothing them in it. You would not only save them the irritation of a rash, but also might save a few dollars on the topical cream for the rash.

Anyway, hopefully, you and your spouse have discussed plans and arrived at an agreed practice of child-rearing. Sometimes that can be an adventure, especially if the couple comes from two different cultural backgrounds. At just about the time you have it hammered out the in-laws (you pick which ones) insert their thoughts on your child-rearing decisions and/or skills. One of the grandparents says, “You know, when we were raising our family years ago we never did that. “

Of course, sometimes parents themselves get to a certain point when the children begin to drive, get out on their own, graduate and leave for college, that they think, “If things could just stay the same and the kids could just always stay young, then I would be happy.”

Often decisions are easy to make because it just isn’t practical or feasible. But tough decisions need to be made in our personal lives, and also need to be made when looking to a city’s future viability … and by no means has everyone necessarily always been on board with every decision.

I think that some people believe the past was always smooth sailing and that our forefathers in Troy agreed on most decisions. This was not so; rather sometimes judgments were made that were not always unanimous, and discussions even became quite heated. A few city servants were even voted out of office because of choices which were made.

Many of the early improvements like the canal and the railroad were seen as necessary advancements for a growing community and were generally supported, but later decisions about direction for the community were not always accepted so easily. But, like parents, choices had to be made, sometimes by leadership and other times by the people.

For example, in 1920 the Standard Oil Company purchased the lot on the corner of S. Cherry and W. Main St. (where the Local History Library is now located) and was planning to construct a service station. The people of Troy were determined that if a service station was going to be in downtown Troy, then it was going to be aesthetically pleasing. The company relented and decided to construct a white tile-sided building with a terra cotta shingle roof.

One of the best examples of opposition to a project, which ultimately became beneficial to the community, was not city-driven, but certainly affected the community. The Miami Conservancy District was organized after the 1913 Flood with the intent of constructing dams and levees to help control flooding in downtown business areas of Miami Valley communities. Numerous citizens were opposed to what they viewed as a land grabbing, power seizing, and taxation movement. Most of the opposition was centered right here in Troy.

Of course, the Ohio Supreme Court eventually supported the Conservancy plan and it was finally implemented. Now, we could hardly think of Troy without the dam and levees in present day. The levees made possible all the recreational facilities on the north side of the river; the area which used to be the flood plain. But later, Arthur Morgan, the Conservancy’s chief engineer, admitted the opposition helped them to streamline and ‘perfect’ their plan.

Another example of something we now have that started in tragedy and opposition is Prouty Plaza. We now, as a community, enjoy the green space which has been and continues to be a great venue for concerts and other downtown gatherings.

In March, 1970, the old Steil building, which housed the Uhlmans’ department store, was a victim of arson and was a total loss. Where the large building once stood was an empty lot. In the aftermath, it was discussed what should be done with the lot. A number of residents were in favor of rebuilding a large multi-purpose structure; others wanted to develop a small park for the community where business people could eat lunch on nice days. It was finally decided that the area would become a dedicated green space and later developed into the great gathering space it has become today.

One more example of something most Trojans now enjoy, but was not an immediate success is the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.

After the Troy-Miami County Public Library moved into its current building, the Troy Board of Education had to decide how to make use of the then vacant Hayner mansion. After many suggestions, it was decided to create a cultural center, which would be supported by a levy. Following many informational promotions and a lot of campaigning, the vote was finally taken and the levy passed by a majority of 41 votes.

Although the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center is now a big part of the community fabric, it was not immediately popular. But now, except for one hiccup several years ago, the center continues to be utilized by the community and supported by the majority of the residents with their voting.

Over the years, Troy leaders have sought to grow a city which would be vital and vibrant, and for the most part they have done a great job. As time marches forward, the city leadership will continue to seek ways to improve the community for the benefit of its residents and as an attraction to visitors. That is part of their job description. But, we always, as our forebears did, need to be vigilant and make sure our leaders are making reasonable and fiscally sound decisions. All the great dreams in the world, if they are not sound or reasonable, will not benefit our community.

It really does take a village … at least to grow a city.

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By Patrick D. Kennedy


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