TROY — It was one Troy Reverend A.M. Dixon’s idea to have a safe haven for youth in the city of Troy and that idea now houses youth of all ages at the Troy Rec.
The Troy Rec celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.
According to the Troy Historical Society, the Troy Rec is “One of the oldest, if not the oldest, continuously running community youth centers in the United States, the Troy Rec Association has been serving the citizens of Troy, especially its young people, for over 70 years.”
According to a Sept. 15, 1964, article in the Troy Daily News, “The idea for an organized recreation program for Troy young people originated with Rev. A.M. Dixon on the city’s baseball diamond in 1932 and reached fruition nine years later in the Troy Recreation Hall on the Public Square. The youth of Troy have had a ‘Rec’ ever since.”
According to the Sept. 15, 1964 article, it was during the depression that teenagers gravitated to baseball fields to spend their summer days.
It was the Rev. Dixon who suggested the teens form teens and play in tournaments. “Summer special activities were planned for girls, too,” the article states.
“Rev. Dixon contacted leading citizens who formed a recreation committee. The committee solicited $1,000 in contributions, enough to give the program momentum.”
In 1940, the youth program was expanded to include Saturday evening activities at Heywood School.
In 1941, the Troy Recreation Association was organized.
“It took over the second flood of the Allen and Wheeler building on the Public Square as a Recreation Center and the program assumed the form it retains today. Officially entitled, Troy Recreation Hall, the teenagers dubbed it the “Rec.”
And the name has stuck ever since.
In 1944, the Rec was such a success, with more than 1,000 young people — including hundreds from outside of Troy — the organization was incorporated.
A financial campaign for funds was initiated and city residents raised more than $30,000. The article states “the response from the citizens of the city was phenomenal.”
The Rec signed a 20-year lease of the Briggs Monuments building on North Market Street. The organization spent $30,000 to make the “new” Rec, “an attractive social center and canteen for our teen-agers.”
The article stated, “Without a doubt, the Rec has become one of the outstanding youth projects in the nation. During and after the war numerous centers were erected in other communicates only to fold up and die. The Troy center has flourished to the admiration and envy of many investigating visitors from other communities in the state and nation.”
In the 1960s, the Rec held another fund drive to expand the facilities with a new addition, with access from Water Street, which opened on April 17, 1962.
The Troy Rec garnered national attention, including articles in Reader’s Digest and various magazines, according to the article.
Today, the Troy Rec hosts “Smart Start” preschool in its fifth year and at full capacity. The Rec also hosts a summer Reading Buddies program, a before and after school day care, as well as community exercise classes like Zumba, line dancing and ballroom dancing classes and other activities.
The Troy Rec Executive Director Kelly Snyder reported to Troy City Council the Rec’s activities and events held throughout the years at a council meeting on Nov. 7.
“The Rec has been around, supporting the youth and being around for youth and the general community for 75 years,” Snyder said. “We couldn’t have done it without the city’s support all those years.”
Passers-by can see youth of all ages heading inside the Troy Rec to meet friends and enjoy playing pool, basketball, homework, or just hanging out. The Rec also has computers with Internet access available for use. There is no charge for sixth through 12th grade students to use the facility after school.
The downstairs “game room” is open to sixth through 12th grade students, with many sixth graders using the facility after school.
“We are averaging 65-80 kids a day, the majority of them sixth grade. Friday is the ‘high’ day with more than 100 kids there, so it’s a definite need and we are glad to be able to provide the services we can to those kids,” Snyder said.
Snyder also reported students enjoyed its Halloween dance this fall for sixth through eighth graders and request “more dances, more dances.”
The south and east walls of Troy’s Rec depict an early time in Troy’s history. The black and white murals were painted on the brick facade of the building by Troy High School students in 1975 with help from their art teacher Delmar Preston.
The murals were restored after an approximate $11,000 was provided for the brickwork and replacement of nearly 300 bricks in the building’s walls.
The black and white murals were refreshed and restored. The interior of the building received a complete make-over during its $315,000 renovation of the Rec building in 2013-2014. Much like the Rec’s first campaign drives, the community stepped up and supported the renovation, including donations from local residents Thom and Pat Robinson, The Troy Foundation, Paul G. Duke Foundation, Miami County Foundation and the ACORN Society.
New carpet, renovated gym, rebuilt pool tables, new furniture and TVs and security system were part of the renovation project.
The Rec is also funded by the United Way of Troy, much like it was in the 1960s.
Today, the Rec hosts events such as birthday parties, organization events and other activities. The Rec also hosts the Mayor Youth Council’s annual Super Bowl party, Boy and Girl Scouts, the Troy’s Night Market in the winter, and recently hosted a group of Bradley University students who stayed overnight to assist the American Red Cross with volunteer work.
“What we heard from them that it was the best facility they had ever stayed at because they could play games, and watch TV and play basketball and enjoy themselves as they traveled from place to place with their volunteer work,” Synder said.
The Rec also hosts a variety of activities for the Troy Pop Rocks, the Clubhouse organization and other youth oriented groups.
The Rec also serves as a rental facility, which provides 65 percent of the organization’s funding. The Rec has a kitchen with warming oven, refrigerator, sink, and microwave, and sets up to 100 people.
And all of this started with an idea from a local pastor watching youth play baseball on the cusp of the Great Depression.
For more information, visit the Troy Rec at 11 N. Market St., or online at www.troyrec.com.
North Market Street, ca. 1910-15, the “stepped” building on the right is the Rec building, prior to it being the center.
Reach Melanie Yingst at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews