Troy survey nears its end

Published 11:00 pm Monday, August 6, 2012

The architectural survey necessary for downtown Troy to be designated a historic district by the Alabama Historical Commission is near completion.

The survey is being funded by a 2012 Historical Preservation grant awarded to the Pike County Chamber of Commerce by the Alabama Historical Commission and conducted by Tray Earnest, TG Earnest Associates, Troy.

To date, the total number of buildings surveyed to determine their historic significance is 116 and Earnest said the final number of structures surveyed will be closer to 120.

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“Downtown Troy, including the railroad and light industrial district, has more than enough buildings to meet the requirement for establishing an historic district,” Earnest said. “Of the 116, buildings surveyed, 93 or 80.2 percent of those should qualify for the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Twenty-nine or 25 percent should qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.”

Earnest said the requirements for listings on the Alabama Register include property that is at least 40 years old, is associated with events of state or local significance, is associated with the lives of persons of state or local significance, is representative of a type, style, or period of architecture or is associated with Alabama’s history or prehistory. It must also possess integrity of location and construction and convey a feeling for the time and place of construction.

While conducting the architectural survey, Earnest has found information that should qualify buildings for listing on the National Register including the Gellerstedt building, Byrd’s Drugs and Rosenberg’s (Dollar Store).

“The National Register’s criteria is much more stringent than the state register, but these buildings and others should qualify,” Earnest said.

While conducting the survey, Earnest said he has discovered amazing things that he never knew about downtown Troy.

“Of special interest are open wells in the basement of several 1880s era buildings located on the Square,” he said. “I didn’t know that the oldest barber shop in Troy is located in the basement of the Landmark Realty office building and dates to at least 1885.

“Also there’s a section of the original brick Elm Street under the bridge on the west side.”

Earnest said that as the “walls” began to talk, much was revealed about the history of downtown Troy.

That history will be complied and submitted in an application to the Alabama Historical Commission for downtown Troy to be defined as a historic district.

“Having a historic district increases the potential for more grant projects designed to promote downtown revitalization and heritage tourism,” Earnest said. “Every visitor drawn to Troy by heritage tourism gives a boost to our local economy, both downtown, and in other business areas.”

Kathy Sauer, Chamber president, said other areas of the city could be included in the survey.

“Tray is from Troy and has a genuine interest in Troy, its past, present and future,” Sauer said. “He is interested in the history of the area around the college, some of the older streets and the area that is Sorority Hill. He’s going to stay with this survey and he will be here to see it through.”

Sauer expressed appreciation to the Alabama Historical Commission, Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Legislature for the awarding of the $15,000 grant for the architectural survey.

“The information collected through this survey will provide a baseline for future restoration and preservation in the city,” Sauer said.