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Troy Country Club Celebrates 100th Anniversary: First Clubhouse Destroyed by Fire

By Judy Deeter

TROY - An old Troy postcard (pictured above) in The Troy Historical Society research collection at the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library features an image of the Troy Country Club Clubhouse as it appeared in 1925. People looking at the postcard today may wonder why the building looks different from the clubhouse now at the Country Club. The reason is that the postcard picture shows a clubhouse that was destroyed by fire decades ago. The story of the clubhouse fire is part of the Country Club’s history.

   The Troy Country Club was founded a century ago in the summer of 1922. In June of that year, a property known as the Zeigler farm was sold at a sheriff’s foreclosure sale. Several local men believed that the land (87.56 acres) would be ideal for a golf course and Country Club. They arranged for attorney J.C. Fullerton, Jr. to acquire the property. He was able to obtain title to the land for $9,000.  A booklet published by the Troy Country Club on its fiftieth anniversary says, “This purchase price was guaranteed by ‘some 10 or 12 local men’ whose names were not immediately publicized.” Mortgages held on the property at the time of the sale were in the amount of $15,000.   (NOTE:  Some land for the Country Club golf course—not part of the sheriff’s sale--came from what was once the George Peters family nursery.)

   The Troy Country Club was formally organized about a month later on July 28, 1922.  (It has just observed its 100th anniversary.) A story in the Troy Daily News on April 15, 1964 says that the course was laid out by “Tom Bendalow (Bendelow),  famed Chicago golf course architect of that day.” It was built in 1923.  The newspaper also reported, “…the course was constructed by local labor under the direction of the late Charles Willard, Sr. Schenck & Williams, Dayton architects, who had recently completed a study of European country club houses, designed the house which was built under the supervision of the late Wilhelm Koetitz of Tipp City, with A.C. McClung as chairman of the building committee.” The clubhouse was dedicated on June 6, 1924.

   A picture of the clubhouse, taken by Barton Photography Studio of Troy, was published in the Troy Daily News about 1930 (exact date of the newspaper publication is not known). A date written on the picture is April 5, 1924. A newspaper caption with the photograph reads:  “Beautiful and attractive clubhouse of the Troy Country Club, located on the peters pike, and one of the show places of this community. During the season, the splendid golf course is a magnet for many golf enthusiasts, and the convenient club house and excellent swimming pool hold the interest of club members.” 

   On June 15, 1942, the main part of the clubhouse was destroyed by fire when a coal-fired boiler exploded. The 1964 Troy Daily News article said that the boiler, located in the building basement, was used to heat water for showers. It also reported that Country Club employees “narrowly escaped death” in the fire.

   The clubhouse was soon redesigned by member N.W. Van Ausdal. The building’s exterior was only slightly changed from what it had been. As a part of the rebuilding, however, living quarters were added for a caretaker.

Just a few years later on February 8, 1947, disaster once again struck the clubhouse when a fire destroyed the main part of the building. The only thing left standing of the main part of the clubhouse was the fireplace and two chimneys. A picture of the remaining fireplace and chimney was published in the Country Club’s 1964 fiftieth anniversary booklet. (NOTE:  The fire did not do damage to the kitchen and locker room.)

   High building costs of the time prevented the immediate reconstruction of the clubhouse. (Keep in mind that World War II had just ended and America’s companies were undergoing a change from wartime production to a peacetime output of goods. Products were sometimes costly and in short supply.)  Troy Country Club officials took what was left of their facilities and put them to other uses. The locker room was turned into a dining room. A temporary structure was built that served as a pro shop and provided restrooms and showers for members and guests. The Country Club reopened about six weeks after the fire, but a plan to build a new clubhouse was not put in place until December 2, 1948.

   The new clubhouse opened in 1950. The 1964 Troy Daily News story said, “The cost of the new clubhouse, completed April 22, 1950 was equal to the entire original outlay for land, club house, furnishings, golf course and swimming pool.”  

   Another postcard (pictured below) from the last half of the 20th century shows the golf course with a view of the new clubhouse in the background. There is no date or postmark on the card to confirm when it was made.

   A file at the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library provides further details about the history of the Troy Country Club, including its officers, financial information, the golf course and swimming pool and fires and rebuilding down through the years.

   For further information about this story, contact The Troy Historical Society at (937) 339-5900 or by email at tths@frontier.com.

(Postcards courtesy of the Troy Historical Society)

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