Remember the signs of the times

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The recent sale of Synco Drugs in downtown Troy and cleanup efforts around the brick column that once supported the “Welcome to Troy” archway, have spurred interest in the city’s recent physical history

The Troy Masonic Temple, built in 1892, was named to Alabama’s 2013 “Places in Peril” list by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The “Places in Peril” list calls attention to some of Alabama’s most significant endangered landmarks.

Contributed by Dot Green
A photo of the “Welcome to Troy” sign on Trojan Terrace, now named Trojan Way.

Troy’s Masonic Temple is a downtown landmark.  Architect Enoch Crites designed the three-story Romanesque Revival building in the early 1890s. The building features carved stone arches, terracotta molding and pressed metal trim work. A round stone plaque with the Masonic logo of the square and compass marks the upper half-story.

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“The old Masonic building in Troy played an important role in the early social and commercial history of the city.”

Originally, the Masons used the third floor of the building and a grocery store and printer shop were located on the first floor.  Around 1906, Troy Literary Club used the west end of the first floor of the building.  The second floor reported to have been used, for a time, by the Knights of Pythias, which was a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington, D.C., in 1864. 

Between1903-1912, a post office was located in the building and a movie house occupied the first floor from around 1915 until the 1930s, Movie theaters have a storied history in the city.  The Royal Theater was housed on the lower floor in 1912 and the Walton Theater in 1915. 

The Princess Theater was then at home there for about 14 years. The Princess Theater was a magnificent place and attracted people from great distances to Troy.  Troy’s Masonic Temple building is listed on the Alabama Register of Historic Places.

The history of the Troy Masonic Temple was documented in The Messenger, however, documented information about the “magnificent archway into Troy” has not yet be found.

The archway was located on Trojan Terrace, now Trojan Way. Two off-set yellow brick columns  supported the wrought iron arch with “Welcome to Troy” signage.

Irvin Senn, who lived near the archway, said his memory is that “Welcome to Troy” was the greeting but is “for sure” that the archway was lighted.

Yellow brick columns, a wrought iron arch, signage that included, “Troy” and lights are the vague memories of the entrance to Trojan Terrace.

However, it is believed that there are photos and, perhaps, even postcards of the signage.

But, just when local history buffs seemingly exhausted their efforts to find any “material” evidence of the welcome sign. Suzy Senn located a photo that added mystery and intrigue to the search.

The photo of the Welcome to Troy photo belongs to Dot Green and “appears” to compare with the descriptions of the archway sign … except the sign doesn’t span the roadway. It appears to be located on one side of the street and has lights.

That leaves to question whether the welcoming archway sign has been the figment of grandiose imaginations or were there two signs but at different times or just one roadside sign all the time.

Anyone with photos or postcards of the now even more mysterious “Welcome to Troy” sign please come forward.