Livestock, Live Bands, and LoveJun 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Carolyn Straniere
“People said we were crazy when we said we wanted to save the barn,” says Bill. “The wood beams were rotting, and there was still dirt and manure in the pens. But this barn has been a vital part of Troy for 100 years, and we didn’t want to see it razed.”
Bill is Bill Bower, a local historian and retired game warden. He’s one of ten people on a committee dedicated to saving the Troy Sale Barn. It’s been quite the undertaking, but the Troy Sale Barn Operating Corporation has not only managed to save the barn, but completely transform it into a beautiful space for public and private use. Events of all kinds are happening here, from weddings to yoga, archery to anniversary parties.
Let’s back up. Just over a century ago, twenty farmers met at the Troy Hotel to discuss erecting a livestock sale pavilion in Troy. They formed the Bradford County Livestock Sales Association and oversaw construction of an amphitheater-style building. The first sale was on June 4, 1922, and continued every Wednesday after that for decades, with the town benefiting economically from the influx of folks on sale day.
“Wednesday was a big day for many families,” Bill explains. “It was their one day to come to town, do their errands, and meet up the other townspeople. It’s not like today where we run to town all the time. It was special back then. People would come from New York and Philadelphia by train to attend the sales.”
But, over time, the barn saw fewer sales. Bill suggests Hurricane Agnes’s destruction of the railroad line in 1972, as well as the dwindling number of family farms, as possible explanations for the barn losing money. Leasing the facility to a livestock company didn’t improve the situation. February 21, 1996, was the last regular sale.
The barn changed hands a few times in the years following. Sales and events were held occasionally, but by 2010 the property was sitting vacant and unused. Structural decay was inevitable, and in 2014 talk of tearing down the sale barn circulated through town.
“The Troy Historical Society wanted to put the barn on the National Registry so it wouldn’t be razed, and we had petitions to save the barn, which we presented at a town hall meeting,” Bill says. “The community really came out and supported us. They donated money to help replace and rebuild much of the building. Now there are steel beams where the rotten wood ones were.”
Bill names another driving force in this community endeavor: Executive Director Nicole Harris. A Penn State graduate with a background in agriculture, Nicole spent quite a few years as the naturalist at nearby Mt. Pisgah State Park before jumping on board with the Troy Sale Barn Operating Corporation.
“There are ten members and we built our policies from the ground up, with a vision]for the sale barn,” says Nicole. That vision was for the facility to be a community center and an event venue. Since 2017, its use as a wedding venue has been increasing. And it’s easy to see why.
“We wanted our venue to be affordable for newlyweds, so we’ve kept the cost down,” Nicole says. “When you rent the facilities, you have its use for three days so you can have your rehearsal dinner here as well. Our kitchen is brand new, and it’s stocked with wine glasses, mason jars, flatwear, serving pieces. There are mismatched antique dishes that look beautiful with the chargers when the tables are set. We also have a matching set of dishes for those who want a more cohesive look. We supply the tables and chairs. Plus there’s an outdoor patio for cocktail hour, flower pots filled to the brim, and the 100-year-old stone wall makes a pretty background for pictures.
“What’s really nice about this entire space is we have the Frantz Arena, where they can have their ceremony, and then move into the hall for their reception.” The arena is named after project donors Jerry and Alice Frantz. It’s in the original part of the barn where the auctioneer would hold the sale. The benches where the buyers sat are now in the main hall, replaced by seats and chandeliers from the old Half Shire Court House.
Downstairs, where those manure-filled pens used to be, is the Founder’s Lounge. It has a separate space tucked at one end for the bridal party to dress, do hair and make-up, or just chill together.
But, it’s what’s in the middle of the room that commands attention: an antique soda fountain and silver stools with red cushions. There’s a story behind the soda fountain, Nicole says.
“It’s from Pittsburgh and we contacted the owner and told him we couldn’t pay what he was asking for it but it would really be a great addition to our barn renovation,” she relates. “He was happy to let it go for less, knowing it would be put to good use. Wouldn’t it be fun to have milkshakes at a wedding for the toast?”
Back upstairs, Bill is helping take tape off the floor in the main hall, remnants from a recent pickleball game.
“The community stepped up when we needed them, and that team effort brought us to where we are today,” he says, ticking off events that are pending—a Hometown Christmas with vendors, the seasonal farmer’s market, the first sale centennial celebration. Like a proud dad, he stops for a moment and looks around. There are the old mill sacks, a forty-six-star American flag, a wooden sign announcing commission for sellers, and a variety of vintage farm implements.
“We tried to tie in some history, as well as honor the farmers who came before us,” he says. “We wanted to keep it looking like a barn but also make it reasonable for the community to use. I think we’ve achieved that.”
Find the Troy Sale Barn at 50 Ballard Street. To schedule your wedding or other event, contact Nicole at (570) 337-0815. Check them out, too, at troysalebarn.com or on Facebook.