The Many Museums of Troy

Bringing Local History to Life

By Natasha Habib

Troy’s museums are piquing interest in the past by examining the Miami Valley’s role in national and world history. “The standard assumption is, well, nobody likes museums because they’re old, dry, musty places where you’re looking at a bunch of dead people’s stuff in cases,” said Purke, a self-described “museum junkie” and local history buff. Troy’s museums, however, have signs that read “Please Touch.”

Overfield Tavern Museum

The Overfield Tavern Museum, built by Benjamin Overfield in 1808, currently has an exhibit on what life was like when Troy was first settled. “The Overfield Museum is unique because it is a squared log building that’s still on its original foundation,” said Purke, who has been curator of many of Troy’s museums over the years. “Religious services were held in the Overfield Tavern and the court met there. And of course, like all taverns in those days, that was the place where you went to get the local news. If you wanted to know where a person lived, or who had moved in, who had moved out, who had gotten married, who was quarreling with whom, you went to the tavern to find that stuff out.” As the result of an archeological dig and donations, collections of pewter, glassware, early textiles and furniture are now on display.

201 E. Water St.
(937) 335-4019
Open: April 1 through October 31, Saturdays and Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Cost: $2 donation

Museum of Troy History

When you leave 1850 at the Overfield Tavern, take a short walk to the Museum of Troy History, which covers various aspects of history up until about 1950. Each room in the museum has permanent and rotating exhibits that highlight different periods of time. The parlor, for example, focuses on the Victorian era. Each exhibit focuses history locally. “If we do a civil war program, it has nothing to do with what happened at Gettysburg,” said Purke. “It’s how our community dealt with that cataclysmic event and the kinds of things that were going on here.” They also host hands-on activities such as making feather trees, popular in Victorian times, and other ornaments.

124 E. Water St.
(937) 216-6925
Open: April though mid-December, Saturdays and Sundays 1-5 p.m.
Cost: Free, donations greatly appreciated

Miami Valley Veterans Museum

This newest museum addition to Troy is dedicated to those who have served, and their families. “The focus of our veterans museum is slightly different because what we are interested in is showing the role of the veteran in the community,” said Purke, also a veteran. The museum itself covers all wars and showcases uniforms, letters from home and other memorabilia all connected to the stories of local vets and the community. Though the museum is just starting out, they will be hosting special events and service-related discussions over coffee.

107 W. Main St., 2nd Floor
(937) 451-1455
Open: Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday 1-5 p.m.
Cost: Free, donations greatly appreciated

Troy-Hayner Cultural Center

This Tudor mansion near the Miami County Courthouse was built in 1914 by Mary Jane Hayner, the wife a local whiskey distiller whose business thrived locally and nationally until prohibition. Not only can you learn about the Hayner Distilling Co. and the combination locks they put in the caps of their mail-ordered whiskey bottles to keep the order from being sampled on its way to its purchaser, but you can also admire the marble fireplaces and the ballroom when you’re there for a concert, speaker or other special event. Madeline MacNeil, a hammered dulcimer artist, will perform Jan. 20, 2012. Call or visit the website for more information.

301 W. Main St.
(937) 339-0457
Open: Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday 7-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Cost: Free, donations greatly appreciated

Historic WACO Field & Aircraft Museum

If you’re interest in aviation, drive a bit beyond the National Museum of the US Air Force to WACO, pronounced so that it rhymes with taco. “Waco is a place in Texas, WACO is our aircraft company,” said Purke. WACO started out making biplanes. “In the year 1927, in all of the United States, there were approximately a thousand airplanes made,” said Purke. “Of those, WACO made 462.” In World War II the government needed inexpensive gliders made from non-strategic materials to carry troops into combat, which WACO provided. After the war, however, the company didn’t keep up with aviation technology and folded. Now, two hangers display WACO memorabilia and aircraft, including ones used in the early days of airmail. WACO Classic Aircraft Corporation in Michigan now manufactures WACO replica biplanes, upgraded to meet FAA standards, of course.

1865 S. County Road 25A
(937) 335-9226
Open: Saturday and Sunday noon-5 p.m., Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. Closed December 19 for the winter and reopening March 3, 2012.
Cost: $6 adults, $5 veterans, $3 ages 7-17, kids under 7 free

For more information on Troy’s museums, or to donate your time, money or memorabilia, contact the Troy Historical Society at (937) 339-5900 or visit their website If you have an interest in a particular museum, you may contact them directly. The museums are also very accommodating outside their normal operating hours, so just call to make arrangements if your group would like a tour.

Reach DCP editorial intern and freelance writer Natasha Habib at

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