In the early 1940’s, Troy, as well as the rest of the country was just emerging from the effects of the Great Depression and immersing themselves in their role as part of the war effort during World War II. Troy had fared better than many places through that particular period of turmoil. But Troy would also give many citizens to service during the war, many of whom never returned.
During the Depression the city park commission maintained a regular schedule of programs that offered a variety of entertainment which residents could enjoy, as a means of relaxation and respite from the cares of the world.
Physical recreation such as baseball, golf and tennis offered opportunities for activities which helped keep residents healthy and cheerful during an immensely stressful time.
In December 1942, the three Hobart brothers, Edward (E.A.), Charles and William, created a charitable foundation in memory of their late father, C.C. Hobart, patriarch of the family and pioneer industrialist in Troy. The foundation was a fund-granting organization for “charitable, religious, educational and civic purposes.” The brothers also provided the initial seed-money for the organization.
Out of the genius of Mr. Hobart four companies had been conceived of and formed: Hobart Manufacturing, Hobart Brothers, The American Fixture and Manufacturing Company, and the Hobart Cabinet Company. These industries not only provided employment and tax dollars for the community, but also were, along with a few other companies, the economic engine of Troy during the difficult times in the 30s and 40s.
Like their father, E.A., Charles and William believed in investing and reinvesting the community which they called home. They also knew the physical and mental benefits of recreation to an individual and a community. So, it was not a great surprise when the three siblings conceived a comprehensive recreation plan for Troy and approached the city with a proposal.
The men offered to pay for and construct a multi-purpose winter sports arena with funds from the foundation, if the city would pass a $450,000 bond issue to pay for a 10,000-seat, steel-welded football stadium and an 18-hole golf course for the benefit of the residents of Troy.
The community was not necessarily in bad shape (no pun intended), for they had a concrete bleacher football stadium which was barely a decade-old and a nine-hole municipal golf course near downtown. What they did not have was anything approaching the idea of what the arena was conceived to be.
The proposal offered the community a bigger and better golf course, a larger, nicer stadium for a football crazy town and a new arena for hockey, skating and other multiple uses.
The city agreed to the plan and soon an election was held on the bond issue for the project. When the time came, the residents of the Troy went to the polls and overwhelmingly passed the recreation plan for the city. Soon, the actual breaking of ground and construction was underway.
The golf course was the first piece of the plan to be initiated. The actual course was designed by well-known golf course architect Donald Ross. The building of the course and clubhouse was completed and opened to the public on April 22, 1949, and officially dedicated in August. The Miami Shores Golf Course has been the grounds where a few professional golfers have honed their skills and has also been enjoyed by several generations of golfing enthusiasts.
About the same time, Hobart Brothers’ welders were also busy constructing the stadium and the field was being leveled and put in good shape. One month after the Miami Shores dedication, the city held the dedication of Troy Memorial Stadium, in time for the 1949 football season. Troy would enjoy a 7-2 record that year, only losing to a tough Dayton Kiser team and a close heartbreaker to Fairmont. In the almost 70 years since then, many college athletes and even some future professional athletes initiated their careers at Troy Memorial Stadium, and hundreds of young men and women of Troy High School have gone to ‘battle’ for Troy’s honor inside the stadium which commemorates those who have really gone to war to protect of freedoms.
The final piece of the recreation program, the arena, was generally constructed during the same period as the other projects, but it was not ready for use until 1950. The first event to actually take place in the not quite completed sports arena was a Troy High School boys’ basketball game in February, 1950, which Troy won. During the spring and summer of 1950, the rest of the arena was completed and the Dedication and Grand Opening show was held on Sept. 7, 1950, with a “Holiday on Ice” program.
The talent and entertainers which have been featured at Hobart Arena over the years is almost unfathomable, dare I say, unique, for a city the size of Troy. What other town our size can boast that Elvis, Pat Boone, Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and other entertainers have been in their community. What about professional or Olympic stars such as Sonia Henie, Peggy Fleming and Janet Lynn? Did you know Wilt Chamberlain, John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas have all played at Hobart Arena. In addition, NHL greats such as Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay and Red Kelly have all played hockey at Hobart. How many communities can say that?
The stadium and the arena have both undergone extensive renovations in recent years. In fact, Hobart Arena is currently underway with a major renovation and expansion project. The city continues to own the Miami Shores Golf Course and Hobart Arena, but Troy Memorial Stadium was transferred to the Troy School District Board of Education several years ago.
If you’re not at the high school, you cannot play at Troy Memorial, but you can enjoy watching and cheering for Troy football and soccer teams and band programs. The gift which the Hobarts and our ‘community ancestors’ gave us in Miami Shores Golf Course and Hobart Arena can be enjoyed by anyone, whether spectator or participant. Enjoy the gift.
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]