Abandoned historic home has lots of history
By Patrick Kennedy
For Civitas Media
The early Monday morning house fire on Piqua-Troy Road finished what 60 years of abandonment had already almost completed; total destruction of an historic home. The structure had a part in the long history of the Troy and Miami County story.
The property was owned by an early Miami County family, which came to the area in 1836. Initially, Arnold Brown only constructed a log cabin when he first settled on the property, but his son Daniel constructed a large home for his growing family in about 1841. Daniel was active in dairy farming and marketing his farm produce (milk and cheese) in Troy and Cincinnati, as well as being involved in other entrepreneurial ventures in Troy. In addition, he was one of the originators of the First National Bank in Troy.
Daniel was also the builder of the “Beehive Corner” or Brown Block on West Main and the Public Square. This is the building that currently houses several businesses, including For All Seasons and the Troy Bulk Barn and Deli, as well as the Troy Community Room.
Mr. Brown actually fell from the third floor of the building while it was being constructed and, although he was seriously injured; he landed on his feet and miraculously survived.
From time-to-time, Daniel Brown added to the acreage of the original farm until he possessed about 1,000 acres in Staunton Township. Later, at various times, some of the property was sold and reduced to 500 acres.
Cyrus T. Brown, Daniel’s son, later owned and managed the property with his family. C.T., as he was known, was one of the founders of the Troy Wagon Works, as well as vice president of the First National Bank. The family owned the property for quite a few years and several generations.
The Brown homestead and acreage was later purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kidder in 1918. Mr. Kidder was the “right hand man” of William Hayner (of Troy and Dayton’s Hayner Distilling Co. fame). He also married Hayner’s half-sister, Georgiana.
The Kidders remodeled and added on to the original home and added some of the other features to the house and property and used it as a retreat and summer home (from Dayton). They named the property “Resthaven Farm.” They also operated the property as a farm which included a large pork operation, containing about 500 acres on both sides of Troy-Piqua Road, just north of Grace Baptist Church and the Staunton Grange; the north side of Troy-Urbana (now being developed) to DeWeese Rd and along DeWeese to Polecat Road. The Kidders lived at and owned the property until their deaths in 1953 (Mr. Kidder) and 1954 (Mrs. Kidder).
In the fall of 1954, Mr. Frank Montross, a wealthy lumberman in Troy purchased the property at an auction. According to local businessman, Bob Cole, the Montross’ did have the home, but one winter while wintering in Florida, the heating system in the old place froze and broke and in the process the wood in several places was ruined and the cost of repair was more than Mr. Montross was willing to put into the home. Later, Mrs. Montross, who owned numerous rental properties in the city, used the structure for storage. So, the structure began to decline into disrepair.
The tenant homes, which had been used during the pork operation days, continued to be rented until several years ago.
It was one of the “saddest” properties in the area in that it was formerly a showplace, which entertained several county picnics and other social gatherings in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but then was left to ruin.
Sometime back in the 1980’s someone purchased the property and was going to restore the home, but they either found that it would take massive amounts of money, or ran out of funds to continue. So, once again, it sat until it was in horrible condition.
The conflagration of Monday put an exclamation mark on the structure’s long history as an important farm and showplace, and more recently, as a sad reminder of what can happen when historic structures, no matter how beautiful and important, can come to nothing if not properly cared for.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to [email protected]