(Taken from the article "It’s the End of an Era for Troy’s First Hotel" by Pat Barber and published in the Towanda Daily Review, September 17, 1976)
The forerunner of the Troy Hotel, or Troy House as it was called until modern times, was the first public house built in Troy long before it became a borough in 1845. Vine Baldwin, an enterprising early settler, built it in 1821 and therein lies a story.
Baldwin had kept a tavern on the same site for a good many years, and had moved to Troy from Ridgeberry Township when he realized Troy’s growth possibilities. An early settler of Ridgeberry, he had been the first white child born in the Chemung valley after the Revolutionary War, and had later built the first framed house in Ridgeberry.
Before he purchased the Troy lot which he considered a valuable one and the best business site in the village, both buyer and seller left the decision as to the price of the 24’ x 38’ lot to two disinterested citizens – Churchill Barnes and Adriel Hubbard. They promptly agreed that the sum of $10 was adequate for the piece of land that was to become a magnet for weary travelers for the next 155 years.
H. C. Bradsby’s "History of Bradford County," published in 1891, writes that in 1832 the frame tavern-hotel was called the Jackson House. But when President Jackson "removed the deposits," his name was obliterated and it became the Troy House. The quote refers to Jackson’s executive order to remove federal deposits from the vaults of the United States Bank, causing its destruction and the rise of state "wildcat banks" which issued a flurry of worthless paper money.
The late Rev. Hiram Rockwell Bennett wrote in his short history of Troy that up to that time the village was strongly Democratic in politics and pro-Jackson. He recalled his grandfather saying that in the household of Luther Rockwell all the little boys (there were nine sons) "were obliged to learn how to jump up in the air, clap their heels together three times and shout ‘Hurrah for Andrew Jackson.’"
At that time the hotel was kept by Benjamin Seeley. Seeley’s investment suffered a setback when the hotel and the rest of the business section of Troy burned on April 4, 1848, marking the second such burning. A new Troy House soon took its place on the same site as the village rebuilt its business blocks.
Two years before the fire the new art of photography made its local debut. In the autumn of 1846, A. Coburn, "Daguerrian artist," took rooms at the Troy House, "where," said his announcement, "he will remain for a few days in the practice of his art. Those wishing to secure the ‘shadow’ while the substance remains will do well to avail themselves of this opportunity."
The 1840’s were great years for politics. Towanda’s David Wilmot was a frequent visitor to Troy and, writes Bennett, showed his friends his speeches in opposition to the protective tariff bill of 1842. It is likely he spent some time at the hotel during his visits, as it was a political gathering place, especially during election times. F. B. Morse’s new telegraph had reached Elmira and arrangements were made to dispatch messages of national import to Troy by a fast post-rider.
A few years later the thriving Troy House was being enlarged by it new owner, Volney M. Long. He boasted that it was "now the most commodious and convenient public house in the western part of the county." At some time the house was owned by Col. I. N. Pomeroy, but authorities differ as to the date. One writes that Pomeroy was the proprietor in 1827 – another sets the date at just before the Civil War.
The coming of the railroad through Troy in 1854 gave a great boost to the hotel business. Not only visitors and many more drummers (salesmen) used Troy House as headquarters, but also social notes in early Canton papers give the hotel as the honeymoon destination of many a Canton bride and bridegroom who travel there "on the cars."
During the Civil War when Troy was a mustering point for five counties because it was on the railroad, it must have been a busy place indeed for families delivering their sons and saying farewell. The Provost Marshall had his office just across the street and probably boarded at Troy House. Later in the war, there was an encampment for the wounded on Elmira Street where Taylor Street now is, which meant another influx of visitors.
A Herdic Coach, a horse-drawn bus invented by Peter Herdic who built and operated the great Minnequa Springs resort in Canton, used to meet all the trains and transport passengers to and from Troy House. The Herdic was built in a carriage factory in Alba and was kept in the thriving livery stable behind the hotel on Center Street. Late in the century the coach would take passengers up to the resort on tip of Mt. Pisgah.
There were two more great fires in the center of Troy, in the 1850’s and again at midnight, Nov. 5, 1870, when much of the business section was destroyed. There had been complaints before about the wooden awnings placed over the sidewalks in front of stores. Many thought they were fire hazards and urged their removal. The fire started in back of Ballard’s hardware store next to the hotel and spread rapidly. Sparks set the Troy House and the livery stable behind it on fire and it looked as though the whole town might burn once more.
As the local fire apparatus was inadequate, a telegraph was sent to the Elmira Fire Department and four companies were immediately sent down by special train. They were too late to be of much help, but they did save the Troy House. A result was the formation of the Oscoluwa Fire Company a few months later that has been saving Troy from major fires ever since.
At the turn of the century Troy House was a center of local life. It was especially busy after Troy became a half-shire court town in 1870 and court was held twice a year, first in the old opera house, later in the courthouse built in 1894, now the Van Dyne Civic building. Troy House boomed every summer after the Troy Fair was started in 1875. In 1900 the balconies were blooming in bunting and flags when a huge firemen’s convention was held there. The balconies were removed sometime early in the 20th century.
||Charles E. Stanton, Sr., Jake Rathgaber, Jesse Williams|
The hotel was a swinging place for young bachelors. Many of the most eligible lived there until they married and set up homes of their own. The Bradford County Directory of 1900 lists a good many along with hotel personnel, most of who lived on the premises. Frank McAfee was porter; Fred Nagle, waiter; Michael Shannon, clerk; and Arnot Rose hostler. Some of the boarders, all leading businessman, were: Samuel B. Aspinwal, cashier, Pomeroy and Mitchell Bank; Burr D. Ballard, Dewitt, Ballard and Son; Wallace Bruce, cigar factory; David J. Fanning, attorney; Stephen H. Heywood, proprietor of the Troy Creamery; William P. McCleary, postmaster; Willard D. Morse, attorney; George L. Peck, Newberry and Peck; and Edwin S. Whitmer, dentist. Franklin B. Beach, the night watch for the borough, was another housemate. W. Ralph Croman came to town before 1920 to teach in the high school and become a distinguished educator and school superintendent. Now in his 90’s, Professor Croman recalls his days as a bachelor at the Troy Hotel and the good times had there.
In 1900 six stage lines converged at the hotel. Making daily runs were Nehemiah Richardson who drove the Big Pond Stage; C. F. Murray for Covert and Troy Stage Line; Charles Steele, proprietor and driver for the Troy and East Burlington route and also the Troy-Towanda line, which went through the Burlingtons and Luthers Mills. Henry C. Gernert was proprietor and James Smith driver of the Troy and Mansfield Stage Line, which took almost a full day to make the round trip. The Troy-Wetona Stage made daily trips via Leona, Springfield and Big Pond and Manuel G. Baldwin drove the hack to Mt. Pisgah.
At that time Charles E. Stanton was the hotelkeeper; Edward L. Stanton ran the livery, feed and sale stable at the rear.
Not all the activity took place on the main floors of Troy House. By 1900 Clarence A. Shook was firmly entrenched in his barbershop in the basement of the hostelry, where there had been a shop for several decades. Shook was to serve four generations of Trojan men, ending with his shop across the street form the hotel.
On his 80th birthday, Aug. 29, 1958, Shook was given a dinner by grateful townspeople. The tribute mentioned that he had come to Troy as a youth and "immediately began to enter into the life of the community. His barbershop, as early as the ‘gay nineties’ became a center of good fellowship. His pleasant friendliness has endeared him to thousands, and this testimonial dinner is a sincere tribute to one we all love."
Later that year on September 12 the hotel was the scene of "Mae Dunbar Day" to celebrate Mae’s 25th anniversary with J. C. Penney. Mrs. Dunbar had started in 1933 when Penney’s was located on Canton Street where F.P. Case and Sons is now, had moved to the new location on W. Main and had served under four managers. Mae was on the high ten selling list for the entire company for a number of years, was in the tip ten in the district even longer. The dining room was packed with Mae’s well-wishers who were entertained by the Gay Ninety Four, a famed local close harmony group of Bob Shook, Cal Norris, Rex Soper and Henry Van Dyne. All leading businessmen, the quartet was invited to sing all over the area.
Before and since then, the hotel has witnessed a variety of social functions, dances and balls. It has been the home of the Troy Rotary Club since its formation banquet in 1926, and the home of the Troy Lions during its 37 years. It has seen Troy Music Club dances and BPW banquets. In recent years there have been several short-lived attempts to keep the dining room open to the general public, but after an initial flurry, business fell off. Few rooms were occupied when Dorothy and Lyell Brown took over management some years ago. The occupancy rate since then has been much higher, but not enough to carry the hotel. The bar does a brisk business, but is rarely full except on special occasions.
Other owners and managers have been in order of proprietorship: 1868, Major V. M. Long and Son; 1880, Charles H. McGounigal; 1895, W. E. Boyce; 1911, Frank G. Manely; 1913, Earl W. Stanton. In February 1919, the Troy Hotel Company was organized to purchase the old Troy House, which was then "doing poorly." It was capitalized at $20,000 with $9,000 going for real estate and personal property, the balance to put the hotel in first class order. H. C. Carpenter was president with E.M. Belknap as manager. Succeeding managers were E. G. McGounigal, 1919; Mrs. Jean (Ma) Snyder, 1922; Mr. and Mrs. Harry Walter, 1927; Mrs. Cora B. Loop of Williamsport leased the hotel early in 1934 and Walter retired as manager. William C. Updegraff of Williamsport bought the hotel in 1942, selling it to James B. Finnefrock in 1945, who sold it to Mrs. Matie Newell of Troy in 1950, who sold it to Mrs. Anna Vollmer and son Gerard and daughter Jane in 1959.
The old hotel is Troy’s most senior citizen, aging in all its joints. Much money would be needed to bring it into line with current regulations for hotels and public houses. Even some of the bricks on the outside walls are crumbling. Its "good old days" are over. Now owned by the First Bank of Troy, it adjoins the bank’s parking lot and head office, another aging building.
P.S. The Troy Hotel was demolished on August 17, 1977 by the First Bank of Troy and is now replaced by a parking lot.
|Troy Hotel Dining Room-M J French, Prop.
From F. Marshall Case Collection
|Troy Hotel-only four names are listed.
Rev, Edward Morse, Dr Barker, Herm Pierce, Kent M.
From F. Marshall Case Collection
|1977 - "Generations of travelers and boarders sat in this lobby of the Troy Hotel watching Troy life go by through this window on Main Street. The old radiators were great for warming cold feet. The hotel, the first public house built in Troy, will be demolished sometime after October 23 and will be used for expansion of the First Bank of Troy in the future."|
|Photo and Article submitted by Don Stanton March 2006
I happened to have a visitor here yesterday when Don's email arrived. She was there at this demolition and told me people were crying. It was a long standing Troy landmark, and its vacant space still announces the loss. JMT.
Troy Hotel Comes Tumbling Down
The Towanda Daily Review, August 18, 1977
By Pat Barber
Picture caption: “Walls of part of the Troy Hotel, long a landmark in
this area, came tumbling down as a demolition crew yesterday began the
two-day task of leveling the structure. The lot will reportedly be
used for a parking area for the adjacent First Bank of Troy. (See photo
sequence of Wednesday’s hotel demolition on page 11).”