Troy Historic Village works to preserve the town’s history amid intense development



According to John Lavender, the closest thing to a downtown Troy was Troy Corners.

Troy Corners was the area that Johnston Niles decided to settle when he emigrated from New York to the Troy area in the 1820s. By 1840, Troy Corners had its own community of several hundred people, and family Niles had enlarged his house to use more than half of it as an inn.

Niles dreamed that Troy Corners would one day become a bustling city. At one point there were rumors that a railway line had to be built through it. Troy was not well watered, except for a small upstream stream along the Red River, and the stream was too slow for the mill to operate. Lack of hydraulic power hampered rapid development, and the railway line would instead pass through Royal Oak and Pontiac instead of Troy, causing potential residents to move elsewhere.

In 2010, the Niles Family Home was donated to the city of Troy by owner Harriet Barnard on condition that it be moved to the Historic Village of Troy, where it is today awaiting restoration.

Known for its many popular restaurant chains and big box retailers, Somerset Shopping Center,Niles Barnard House. Courtesy of the Troy Historical Society and its dense and culturally diverse population, Troy has created the village as a refuge for historic structures amidst intense development. Since the founding of the Troy Historical Society in 1966, Troy has moved eight different structures to his historic village located at Troy Corners in Wattles and John R.

When the recession hit in 2007, the Troy Nature Center and the Troy Historic Village were in danger of being closed. agreed to maintain the buildings, but all staff, programming and operational support were provided by the Troy Historical Society.

“There was a question of whether we could be successful, and we did,†said Lorraine Campbell, former village general manager. She explains that the Society only got there with the dedication and hard work of its members who have spent a lot of time learning how to run a non-profit business. “Because the village is based on programs, we generate the income to operate the buildings,†she says.

Relocation of the Caswell House in 1968. Courtesy of the Troy Historical SocietyAs it diversifies, the Company has grappled with the question of its relevance in a changing environment. They must have asked themselves tough questions about how to engage newcomers.

Jen Peters, currently the village’s executive director, says thinking about innovative ways to approach the more recent history of Troy from different cultural perspectives quickly became the focus. “We had a trick-or-treat event last year,†she recalls, “and in one day I heard five different languages. This story of immigrants from Troy is a story that we didn’t quite fit into, and it’s something that we need to do a better job of and fit into this story.

Many Troy residents have never heard of the historic village, Peters says.

“We get a lot of feedback from visitors who say they have lived in Troy for several years and didn’t know we were here,†says Peters, adding that the schools have been the most supportive – nearly 30,000 Troy schoolchildren, teachers and guides visit the village every year.

“But it’s the students, not the parents,†she adds. “We have great schools, so we have a lot of families moving here for education, but they have only lived here since they had children, so that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a relationship with us. . “

According to Lavender, village treasurer and longtime member of the historical society.

He adds that this makes many of the city’s inhabitants unaware that it exists and may even foster an indifference to historical preservation.

But not all of the historic structures of Troy are found in the village. Today, the city has twenty-seven historic properties classified as historic districts, which include the entire historic village of Troy.

But having eleven historic structures in the village means the historical society can maintain the properties more frequently and check for possible repairs. In addition, according to Peters, the historical society has access to its own place for all its educational purposes and has the freedom to create new programs.

“There are some who don’t care at all,†Lavender says, recalling when the city moved the church and rectory from Square Lake and Livernois roads. He pulled up to the gas station and the cashier said the effort was a waste of money and they should have “broken everything”.

Passers-by will notice that the historic charm of the 19th century is not part of Troy’s identity today. So now the historical society is looking to document some of the structures of the 1950s and 1960s.

Peters says she would like to see the Village one day host preservation classes. Yet in the meantime, the goal is to act as an anchor hub for the citizens of Troy, as historic city centers typically do for other cities. “I would like the historic village of Troy to become a hub of historic preservation,†she says.

“We have a lot of lessons to learn from history,†Lavender says. “People didn’t have that many things, and most people didn’t travel more than sixty miles from where they were born. They were more in tune with conservation because the things they owned were not easily replaced. There is something more meaningful about learning about history in historic buildings. There is a sense of appreciation that you can get from what people have been through.


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