Township Supervisor and history teacher Morris Wattles worked hard to preserve his community’s heritage. He supervised the construction of this Dutch Revival building modeled after a colonial inn in Troy, New York. Many of Troy’s first settlers had traveled the Erie Canal from New York State. Wattles envisioned the Pioneer Room at the west end of the building as space to exhibit local history, and even used old barn beams and a fireplace crane from pioneer Johnson Nile’s inn. The slate roof and the interior woodwork, as well as the frosted glass panels and terrazzo floor are all original. Troy became a city, and Township Hall became City Hall in 1955. Within 10 years Troy was booming and this building was over crowded. City leadership approved a new city hall on Big Beaver Road, and the Troy Historical Society later won approval to use this building as a museum, fulfilling Mr. Wattles’ dream.
A pioneer’s first shelter was often a crude log shed with a dirt floor and no windows. This cabin is larger, and is in fact bigger than Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home. After the frontiersman had cleared enough land to harvest corn or wheat, he felled trees, then squared and notched the logs to build a one-room house. Run your finger along his ax marks which are still visible on the rough-hewn logs. He never trimmed away the bark on the ceiling beam. This 1840s cabin from Frenchtown Twp. near Monroe was converted into a 3-room rental unit by Matilda and Edward Doederlein in the 1940s. Thirty-four years later, it was sold to the Troy Historical Society which paid for it to be dismantled and relocated to the Village.
In colonial America, Georgian architecture was associated with Roman republican values, while Greek revival styles symbolized the democracies of ancient Greece. Solomon Caswell built his home in 1832 and blended both styles. The shape of the house, its central entryway on the wide side of the building, and symmetrically arranged windows and interior spaces all reflect Georgian style. The narrow sidelights on either side of the door, pilasters or columns, and the cornices are Greek revival features. Instead of a fireplace, the house used safer and more efficient wood stoves to cook food and warm the house. The stovepipes ran up through the two second floor bedrooms to provide radiant heat. As the first building moved into the Village in 1968, Caswell House is one of two Troy buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The other is the fieldstone Brooks farmhouse on Big Beaver Road, and is now the headquarters of the Kresge Foundation.
This brick schoolhouse stood at the intersection of Big Beaver and Crooks Roads. In 1877 those roads were muddy paths traversed by horse-drawn farm wagons; but by 1975 high-rise office buildings and corporate headquarters dominated Big Beaver. Tiny Poppleton School faced the wrecking ball. In response, the Troy Historical Society rallied community support to buy the building and relocate it to the Village. However, it was too heavy to move over I-75 and too tall to maneuver under an overpass. Still, a solution was found. The Italianate architecture was carefully documented; the wooden windows and interior components removed; and the brick structure dismantled. The roof—secured to the floor—was easily transported to the Village where new cinderblock walls were built and the salvaged brick, windows, and wainscoting were reinstalled.
Edward Peck built his original general store in 1832 on the northeast corner of Livernois at Square Lake Road. By 1920, a number of men had run the business, including Frank Cutting, a Civil War veteran, who was the storeowner from 1882 to 1915. Store proprietors were also commonly appointed postmaster, and local residents picked up their mail when they shopped. After the Detroit United Railway ran an electric trolley line up Livernois from Royal Oak Troy Township, the store also served as a ticket office and a waiting room for passengers and a platform from which farmers shipped their produce and milk to Detroit. The old store was finally demolished in 1963 and replaced by a bank. This representation of the store was constructed in the Village in 1989.
The American landscape is dotted with thousands of small workshops that boast function rather than style. For many years, township employees tested water meters and equipment in this small building behind the Township Hall. The Troy Historical Society remodeled the shop in 1978 and filled it with donated printing presses, type cases, and supplies. The equipment includes an 1890 Chandler Price press that was powered by a foot peddler, similar to an early Singer Sewing Machine. The 1910 Golding Jobber ran on electricity. However, in both presses the paper is fed by hand. Job shops like this printed public notices, stationery, handbills, and business cards rather than newspapers. While the records are inconclusive, it is likely that Henry Russell, a local jack-of-all-trades, ran a shop similar to this during the 1880s.
During the 1800s blacksmith shops were as common and as important as gas stations are today. This simple board and baton workshop was built at Troy Corners before the Civil War by blacksmiths – and –Vorheis. Metal workers used the shop for decades. However, in 1947 the old building and adjacent farmstead became Gow’s Little Acre, a collection of popular antique and gift shops. In February 1972, fire destroyed the farmhouse and singed the old wagon shop. Five years later Alex Gow retired, sold the northwest corner to a developer, and donated the deteriorated wagon shop to the Troy Historical Society. The Society raised funds to relocate the building to the Village in February 1978. Today volunteer blacksmiths and woodworkers continue to shape metal and wood in the shop using centuries-old tools and techniques. Check out our Blacksmithing Classes! Experience the art of blacksmithing as it was in the 1850s. Work at the anvil, build a fire and operate the amazing forge. Discover how malleable hot iron can be as you learn 8 basic hand forging techniques.
If you have traveled rural America you have seen farmhouses that look like this. The steep gables, cruciform shape, and corner porch typify American Gothic architecture, which was popular in the mid-1800s. This style was associated with the sacredness of the home and role of women in shaping their children’s values. Interestingly, women of the First Methodist Church of Troy oversaw the construction of this home, which served as the minister’s residence, or parsonage. The early ministers were assigned to multiple congregations, including churches in Romeo, Warren, Clawson and Big Beaver, the small community at Rochester and Big Beaver Roads. When the Troy congregation built a new church in 1963, the church and parsonage were sold to antiques dealers. In 1997 both buildings were purchased by the Troy Historical Society for the Village, although it took over a decade for the buildings to be moved and restored.
In 1827, a handful of pioneers attended classes and services led by Elder Warren, a travelling Episcopal minister. They met in homes or a log schoolhouse. On November 9, 1836 Johnston Niles, the first landowner at Troy Corners, deeded property for an Episcopal church for $1, with the stipulation that “in case of failure… of said corporation it was to be conveyed to the nearest duly organized Protestant Episcopal Church.” One year late this simple, Georgian style church was built. Stained glass windows, some bearing the names of pioneers, were added after 1863. The arrangement of diagonal pews and a corner chancel is the original interior design. In 1868 the church was conveyed to the Methodists for $200 because many of the Episcopalians had moved away. The First United Methodist Church of Troy built a new church in 1963 and sold the old church and parsonage to antiques dealers. The Troy Historical Society purchased both buildings in 1997. They were relocated to the Village in 2003 and restored to their 1910 appearance.
The 1848 Town Hall and this Civil War-era one-room school were nearly identical in size and appearance. The actual Town Hall was built about 100 yards from this site, because the intersection of Wattles Road and Livernois was the geographic center of the township and equally accessible to all residents. Troy Union School was built on Square Lake Road east of Rochester Road. The original Town Hall was demolished when the slate-roofed Township Hall was built in 1927. The Troy Historical Society acquired the building in 1987, moved it to the Village and repurposed it as Town Hall.
The gazebo, built in 1979 quickly became a focal point for ceremonies, musical performances, and program activities in the Village while hundreds of couples have exchanged wedding vows or posed for photographs on the structure. It has been draped in red, white and blue on July 4th and evergreens at Christmas. In 2000 the gazebo was incorporated in the City of Troy’s logo.