Well, now the cat is out of the bag and most people are aware that the Troy-Miami County Public Library was exploring options to update and expand their facility. In an article in Miami Valley Today, they stated the most expedient and financially responsible direction is to expand on their present location. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to look back and see what the site of the library has been used for in the past.
Of course, Native Americans lived in this area prior to the coming of the European pioneers. When the settlers did come to the area, three men purchased the land that later became the downtown area of the community. In 1807, when Miami County was created and the legislature of the state deemed the area which now downtown, as the best site for the county seat, the three men sold their land for the future city.
The town was surveyed and laid out in 1807-08, and lot numbers 134, 135, 145, and 146 were set aside for future educational purposes. Although other places had done this same thing, it was quite forward-thinking to provide a location for schooling considering there was no public education at that time.
Eventually, in 1824, a small, brick one-room building was erected on the site as a school house. “The Academy” as it was dubbed, was the location where several local men of education taught interested students. At the time, parents mostly had to pay for each individual student they want to be taught.
Several men who were influential in the community were hired for a time as teachers. Micaiah Fairfield was a Baptist minister who taught. In addition, his son, Edmund Burke Fairfield, taught in the school, but later was the president of what is now Hillsdale College; a Lt. Gov. of Michigan; chancellor of the University of Nebraska and U.S. Consul to Lyon. Thomas S. Barrett, was an attorney, who later helped on the Underground Railroad and also taught runaway slaves. John Petit became a U.S. Senator from Indiana.
At one point, this building was also utilized by the African-American community as a church building for their worship services.
In the mid-19th century, following laws allowing taxes for public education, the community approved legislation to build a school house. A three-story, brick building was erected for $6,000 and was utilized as a grammar, elementary, and high school. The first classes commenced in September 1852. Four years later, the first high school class graduated with four graduates. The school was named the Union School.
In one of the best decisions of early Troy, William N. Edwards was hired as superintendent of the school system. Although one would never know it by his picture, apparently, Edwards was a kind and gentle man who was loved by all. When he died in 1867, it was decided to rename the school in his honor as the “Edwards School.”
Almost 40 years later, when a newer, larger facility was needed, the old school house was razed in 1892 and the new, grand structure was erected. Even 25 years later, many people fondly remembered Edwards and the new school building was named “Edwards Elementary” school. At the time, the high school was located in the old Kyle School.
One interesting note is that one of the Hoagland brothers, of Royal Baking Powder fame, remembered his old teacher and had an artist in Cincinnati create a life-size relief bust of Mr. Edwards, which was placed in the entry of the new school.
Many older residents in Troy still remember attending classes in the Edwards school building on W. Main St.
In the early 1970s, the Troy-Miami County Public Library was quickly outstripping their home in the Hayner Mansion, now the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, and needed to find a new location.
About the same time, it was decided the old Edwards building was too old to be used as a viable public school. Following many discussions and decisions and agreements, the Troy-Miami County Public Library, which was founded in 1896, was given the lots where the old school stood.
The school building was razed in 1973 to make way for the current Troy library. Of course, it was prior to computers and other modern amenities, which would later be needed.
When the library was constructed and dedicated in 1974-75, the old Edwards relief sculpture was placed on the northeast side of the new library.
Although it is not a school building, the library is used for educational purposes and still an important part of the community.
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