Former church building’s future challenged

“Unity for Trinity” group pressing shelter to save structure

By Melanie Yingst -

TROY — With plans pending to expand its mission to serve the homeless and victims of domestic violence, the Family Abuse Shelter is facing pushback from local historic preservationists over the former Trinity Episcopal Church at 16 E. Franklin Street.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Troy Historical Society said it had presented packets of information to the Family Abuse Shelter last Friday, as well as mailed the information to its board members, according to its president Ben Sutherly.

Family Abuse Shelter Executive Director Barb Holman said a closed board meeting will be held on Dec. 15 to review the society’s information.

Under the name “Unity for Trinity,” the Troy Historical Society is collecting signatures to drum up support to save the Gothic Revival-style structure, which has ties to the Underground Railroad and the Miami and Erie Canal. William Henry Harrison gave a speech dedicating the canal at the church in July 1837 prior to becoming a U.S. president for one month in 1841.

“We don’t see this as a choice between historic preservation and the people who the Family Abuse Shelter serves — victims of abuse or homeless — we really feel like this can be a win-win,” Sutherly told attendees on Tuesday. “Frankly, the alternatives that we are looking at could be actually in the best interest of those who utilize the Family Abuse Shelter services.”

The Troy Historical Society presented the shelter with a list of possible alternatives, which were not disclosed by either party as of press time. Sutherly said he hopes that a “solution-oriented dialogue” will be formed between the two parties.

Holman said the organization hired a structural engineer, architect and historian to tour and review the church building’s integrity. The 1830s building, currently named the Barbel Adkins Education and Activity Center, is being used as a meeting and activity place and is currently not on a historical registry. According to Holman, it is estimated to cost $309,500 to restore the building’s windows and masonry, and that figure does not reflect the cost of other structural elements such as roofing and electrical upgrades.

Troy Historical Society provided a letter from the Ohio History Connection organization which stated “the property would very likely meet the requirements for listing in the National Register of Historic places as a contributing component of a historic district.” The letter also states “individual listing for the property would be challenging” due to the loss of the bell tower and spire and the front entry foyer addition.

Holman said the Family Abuse Shelter is in need of more bed space and plans have been made to begin campaigning and fundraising for a new structure where the church currently stands at the beginning of next month. The Franklin House, next door to the former church, houses 22 adult beds and three cribs. At the present, more than 14 children are being sheltered, according to Holman.

“It is not a decision we are taking lightly,” she said.

Holman firmly stated that relocating the shelter is not an option and a new structure is needed to house the expanding need for its consumers. Holman said the stained glass windows and other structural elements from the former church would be used in a new building. She added that the building holds sentimental value to her personally, since her mother helped acquire it during her work in the social services sector. Holman also noted that the Family Abuse Shelter’s other properties, the Buckeye House and 121 NE Public Square, have undergone restoration projects in recent years.

The Family Abuse Shelter would have to apply with the city of Troy for a demolition permit, which has not been submitted to date.

The “Unity for Trinity” petition is located at the Three Weird Sisters’ shop at 15 S. Market St.; Ray’s Shoe Repair, 117 NE Public Square; and at the Museum of Troy History at 124 E. Water St. It can be signed at the locations during normal business hours or by contacting a member of the Troy Historical Society.

“Unity for Trinity” group pressing shelter to save structure

By Melanie Yingst

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews