A view of the Coleman-Allen-Saidleman building on the northeast corner of the Square in Troy.
(Photos courtesy of the Troy Historical Society)
Historic Troy Building to Get New Look From Long Ago
By Judy Deeter
TROY - The historic Coleman-Allen-Saidleman building on the northeast corner of the Troy Public Square will soon have a beautiful new look. Building owner Troy Community Works plans to renovate it, making it usable for the 21st century. Troy Community Works is a non-profit corporation which revitalizes historical buildings in Troy—giving new life to old structures.
The building was erected and opened in 1855 by three prominent Trojans: Dr. Asa Coleman (an early Troy physician and surgeon), Henry Ware Allen (Coleman’s son-in-law who was President of the First National Bank of Troy and a local mill owner) and William Cottingham (a Troy businessman). Their vision back then was for the building to be the largest retail store in Troy.
Although history books refer to these men as builders, they actually were investors—men who paid for its construction. A historical marker on the outside of the building lists only Dr. Asa Coleman as the individual responsible for the construction of the building; written sources list the names of all three men.
In the book CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF TROY, PIQUA AND MIAMI COUNTY OHIO AND ITS REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS historian and writer Thomas Harbaugh says regarding investor Henry Ware Allen, “In 1855, taking advantage of a favorable opportunity, he (Allen) erected a fine block, and he has since at different times added to his real estate holdings until at the present time (1909) he is a large property holder.” The “fine block” Harbaugh refers to in his book is believed to be the Coleman-Allen-Saidleman building.
The designer and builder in historical records is listed as H.A. Bellaw. Historians believe that the design for the building was copied from that of the Morris Hotel (now the Morris House) on South Market Street. The Morris Hotel, designed by New York architect Sheldon Smith, opened on July 4, 1854.
In the beginning, the Coleman-Allen-Saidleman Building was known as the Coleman Building in honor of investor Dr. Asa Coleman. Local historian Thomas Wheeler wrote about it in his book TROY THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. Wheeler particularly mentions the fabulous store rooms: “Samuel K. Harter, then a hardware merchant and the man who later built for his residence the present Elks Club, noted in his diary at the time that the store rooms were superior to any store rooms north of Cincinnati.” Wheeler also describes stone sidewalks around the Public Square as being 20 feet wide.
In those days, the Public Square was not paved. Customers came to businesses in the building on horseback, in carriages, in wagons or perhaps by foot.
Wheeler says that the first tenants to operate businesses in the building were a dry goods store named Drury, Coolidge & Jones and a tinware and stove store that was known as Cottingham & Young.
In less than a decade after the building was completed, the American Civil War began. From 1861 to 1865, the third floor of the building was used as a military recruiting center and armory. Soldiers of the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry enlisted there. The 71st OVI was organized under the leadership of prominent Troy resident Lt. Col. Barton S. Kyle, for whom Kyle School is named. An old Troy newspaper article mentions that the armory was also used by other military groups in Troy: the Lafayette Blues, the Troy Rangers, and the Troy Artillery.
On February 15, 1862, as the 71st OVI prepared to leave for the Civil War, a photograph was taken during their farewell ceremony. In the picture one can see the building as it looked in its early days. The west side of the building has the name of merchant Coolidge & Jones in large letters. This is probably the same dry goods business that started in the building in 1855 as Drury, Coolidge & Jones without partner Drury.
The regiment returned to Troy on leave in 1864 and to the Coleman-Allen Building. Thomas Wheeler mentions the visit in his book: “Late in 1864 most of the adults in town, together with 600 children, turned out to welcome the 71st Regiment who had come home on leave.
The Troy brass band played for the returning soldiers, and they were treated to a stirring speech in Allen’s Hall by William B. McClung, as well as to a dinner cooked and served by Troy ladies.” William B. McClung was a Troy resident who served in the Ohio General Assembly.
The building was known as the Coleman Building until the death of Dr. Coleman on February 25, 1870. Henry Ware Allen then became the owner of the building and the name was changed to the Allen Building (or sometimes Allen’s Hall.) Wheeler wrote that the building continued to be known as the Allen Building until 1965.
The building roof was originally flat. A mansard roof (raised roof) was added to the building in 1872. The mansard roof is still at the top of the building.
Down through the years, a variety of businesses have used the building. Old Troy city directories show that there were usually two businesses on the ground floor of the building with addresses given as 1 and 3 East Main Street. Several of the businesses and their owners are still fondly remembered.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, D. M. (Derostus) McCullough operated a wholesale grocery store in the building. He was well-known in Troy in the early 20th century. He was the nephew of Rev. Peter McCullough of the First Christian Church, which is known now as the Troy’s First United Church of Christ. His father, George McCullough, helped build the Miami and Erie Canal through Troy and Miami County. When George McCullough’s health failed and he could no longer attend church services, D.M. McCullough installed a ten-mile telephone wire between the church and the family home in Christiansburg, which allowed George McCullough to hear sermons at the church. The family also placed a stained glass window in the church. It was blown out by a severe storm in the 1920s and was replaced by D.M. McCullough. The replacement window is still at the church. The name D.M. McCullough can be seen on the side of the building in several historical photographs taken near the turn of the 20th century. His store was known as a place to buy Queensware dinnerware. Queensware was a type of dinnerware similar to the famous English Wedgewood dinnerware. It was quite popular in the early 1900s. The exact date that McCullough’s store closed has not been located. It was still in business in 1916.
The 1927 Troy city directory lists hairdresser Grace Sewell as having a business in the building. It is believed that the Grace Sewell in the directory was the same Grace Sewell who was a long time African-American hairdresser in Troy. She apparently operated her shop for only a short time in the building. Later city directories show her business, the LaBelle Beauty Shop to be in the Brown Block in downtown Troy. She and her husband Perlema were well-known Troy residents. In America in the 1920s, it was unique for an African-American woman to own and operate a business. Mrs. Sewell died in 2001 at the age of 99. Her obituary says that she owned the LaBelle Beauty Shop for 35 years. (story continue below pic....)
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, D. M. (Derostus) McCullough
operated a wholesale grocery store in the building.
Twentieth century Troy residents may recall David’s Shoes in the building. David Saidleman began operating his shoe store in the early 1930s and continued in business until near the end of the 20th century. He opened the store in the same area of the building that had previously been used by shoe store owner named Harry Weiss. Weiss’ name appears in Troy City directories for the 1927 and 1929. Saidleman and his wife Sarah operated the store, along their son-in-law, Stewart I. Lipp. Lipp was married to the Saidleman’s daughter Marilyn.
In 1965, Troy city leaders began looking at ways to revitalize the downtown businesses. Several leaders complained about the look of downtown buildings. They believed that the once lovely buildings were becoming shabby. Newspaper stories from the time reflect their concern. David Saidleman, however, had purchased the Allen Building in 1964 and remodeled it. His building stood in contrast to other buildings on the Square. A newspaper column written by Tom and Natalie Wheeler (“This and That with Tom and Nat,” Troy Daily News, August 31, 1965) describes the poor condition of downtown buildings but makes an exception for Saidleman’s Allen Building: “The Public Square, we all must agree, has taken a new lease on life since David Saidleman purchased the Allen Building and so imaginatively and tastefully remodeled and painted it. The building is beautiful in the daytime and especially at night when the first floor shopping windows are lighted up.”
A photograph most likely taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s—prior to Saidleman’s remodeling--shows the building was painted red. Williams Market grocery store was on the first floor of the building at 1 East Main. Aluminum signs advertising both a soft drink company and one with the word “meats” hung from the side of the building. After remodeling, the building was painted white and advertising seem to have been limited to the inside of the building.
In 1967, the City of Troy and The Troy Historical Society added an historical marker to the building. The marker lists the building’s important historical events. It is still on the west side of the building. The Troy Historical Society has a photograph of David and Sarah Saidleman and former Mayor Ivan Terrell with the marker, probably taken just before it was placed on the building wall (see below).
A record has not been located to verify when the building became known as either the Saidleman Building or the Coleman-Allen-Saidleman Building, which it is known as today. There are some records from the late 1960s that do refer to it as the Saidleman Building.
The building was owned by the Saidleman-Lipp family until recently when it was purchased by Troy Community Works. Stewart Lipp passed away in August 2014. His obituary says that he had been a “proprietor” of David’s Shoes for 58 years.
Plans for the upcoming renovation have been placed in the building’s lower level windows and can be seen from the sidewalk next to the building.
Historical stories and photographs about the building and its owners are at the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library in the joint collection with The Troy Society, 100 West Main Street, Troy. For further historical information, contact The Troy Historical Society at (937) 339-5900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late 20th century owner of the building, David Saidleman (middle), his wife Sarah and former Troy Mayor Ivan Terrell hold a historical marker that was placed on the west wall of the building.