#HomeGrownStories – Linda Lee Jolly
Linda Lee Jolly is a Troy transplant from Northern Kentucky. She has served as the Director of the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center for the past 27 years. Today the Hayner Center hosts a variety of art and cultural events, most of which are free to the public. The upcoming Rhythm and Roots Festival will be on September 23rd. The festival is a celebration of the roots of several musical styles and includes a Pie Party.
How she came to live and work in Miami County:
I’m from Northern Kentucky. I’ve lived in Ohio for close to 40 years. I have lived in Miami County for a little over 30 years. I was working for the Girl Scouts in Dayton when I met people from Troy. They told me that Troy was a great place to live and I should move up here. I came and visited the community and saw all it had to offer and that they were right. I loved it. I moved up here with friends and lived in Troy for about two years. I then found a home in rural Miami County and have lived there for 30 years.
I have a degree in music education and I taught for three years. I was a program director for a year-round Girl Scout Center. Later I was the Program Director for the Council. The Girl Scouts Program has a wide range and variety of activities. I had the option to be involved in many arts related projects with the kids. I also gained strong volunteer administrative experience.
A couple of years after moving to my home in the country I was pondering the drive back-and-forth to work in Dayton. That job took a lot of time, you know. I thought that there must be a job somewhere in Miami County, a job where I could enjoy my home and the many things to do here. I wanted to have time to go to the things at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center. It wasn’t three weeks after that a friend put an ad from the Troy Daily News under my nose. The ad said the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center was looking for a director. She said, “This is your job. Go and get it.” So I applied for the job and the rest is history.
About the history of the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center:
The Hayner mansion was built in 1914 by Mary Jane Hayner. Her husband sold whiskey and patent medicine. She had the mansion built a year after he died. She had four children from her first marriage and she and Mr. Hayner had one daughter Isabel. Mrs. Hayner lived here by herself. Her children were grown and Isabel was in her late teens. Isabel went to a seminary for women, which was like a finishing school in New England. Mrs. Hayner had a few day servants coming in and out of the home from town. Isabel would come home on summer holidays.
Mrs. Hayner left her home to the community in the care of the Troy City school district in 1943. She indicated in her will that the home could be a library, a museum or used for other cultural or educational purposes. It was the library in town for 33 years. Now we are in our 42nd year as Troy’s tax supported community cultural center.
About the Hayner-Cultural Center today:
The house itself is beautiful and worth the visit to see. We keep open hours like museums do. There’s no admission fee to come in and see the house. Part of the house has been transformed into exhibition space. We present about eight exhibits a year, they last 6 to 8 weeks. Some are fine art exhibitions and others are historic in nature. That exhibit space is always open. We have mini exhibits. We have a permanent exhibit about the Hayner distillery. The distillery was a pre-prohibition whiskey business here in Troy. That’s where the money came from to build the house.
We keep a full schedule of concerts, workshops, events, and classes on our website. Anyone can find those activities online. Most of them are free and open to the public and we would be thrilled for out of town visitors to come and take part. We have a Friday night film series that has become very popular. In April we have Mrs. Hayner’s birthday tea. It has a nice presentation with an afternoon tea party. That’s very popular.
The first time Hayner was open to the public as the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in 1976 at Christmas time. They were so excited to invite the public after they had done their initial restoration work. People wanted to get in and see the house. They had one Christmas tree in the solarium that year. It started an annual event that has grown into a two-day open house. Saturday is children’s day. Sunday afternoon musicians perform in the East room. There are at least seven trees in the house. The mantle, the stairway, and the foyer are decorated. It’s amazing to see how beautiful the house is at Christmas.
On the community response to the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center:
It took a little bit of time for people to get used to the Hayner changing its role in the community. People were very used to coming to the library. They loved the library and they loved the Hayner. When the library moved they wanted to make sure that people would still be able to visit and enjoy the Hayner.
I started working here about 27 years ago. I would often hear people say as they were visiting, “I remember this was the library” or “ I remember being in the children’s library.” Later, the 18th or 19th year of the Hayner being the cultural center, people started saying “I took ballet lessons here” or “I got married here.” I realized that we were developing a history of our own. People are very excited about it. We have over 40,000 visitors every year. Community groups are allowed to call and use rooms for meetings. We have private parties. Most of our events fill up and we will have a full house. That says something. The other thing that shows community support is that a levy to support the Hayner Cultural Center is renewed every five years. That’s a huge affirmation that the community loves and supports the Hayner center.
About the upcoming Rhythm and Roots Fest:
The Rhythm and Roots Festival will be at the Hayner Center on September 23rd. It’s a celebration of music at the Hayner. There will be seven bands on two different stages, one on the lawn and one in the courtyard. The festival will explore the roots of our American musical heritage. Each band will explore a different important genre of our music. This year we will be hearing the roots of bluegrass, gospel, blues, country, rock, folk and Americana. All the musicians are contemporary performers.
We will have food trucks and displays and musical vendors. We have a couple of vendors that hand-make their own instruments. We will have the hundred year vinyl history of music exhibit on display. We will also have a homemade Pie Party and contest in the art studio. There will be a little something for everybody!
What she loves most about Miami County:
I like the hometown feel. It’s present even in the larger communities like Troy and Piqua. I like the number of people I have met that are willing to volunteer their time, energy and their talents. They make this community a wonderful place to live, work and raise families. There’s also a wonderful small town friendliness. I may get to see a better part of that because of the people that come and go from the Hayner Center. The Hayner Center is one of many institutions in the county that people together. It creates a strong sense of community.
Her Miami County recommendations for out-of-town visitors:
I’m prejudiced, you know, but I love downtown Troy! It’s amazing that Troy has been able to keep the historic ambiance of its downtown. The little shops, excellent restaurants and the farmers market on Cherry Street. There are so many wonderful restaurants in Troy.
I encourage tourists to step away from the interstate side of town where there are plenty of restaurants that you can go to anytime anywhere. Seek out those restaurants that are privately owned. They have great menus and unique dining opportunities.
Tipp City has some lovely antique shops, it’s always fun for a shopping adventure! Tipp City almost has too many restaurants to recommend! I love the Coldwater Cafe – it’s elegant and delicious. Harrison’s is a lot of fun. Sam and Ethel’s has excellent food! Lincoln Square has a varied menu and they have an amazing Greek Salad. El Sombrero is fantastic!
Beppo Uno in Piqua is a delightful surprise. Our favorite event was the Piqua Heritage Festival when it was still taking place. The Johnston Farm, of course, is an interesting historical setting and it’s so close by. Riding on a canal boat is a pretty unique experience and the Native American Museum is very well done.
The Fort Rowdy Festival is it a fun event, you know? It’s a nice shady setting and we always have a good time. They have good stage shows. We go to that festival annually, for no other reason than that it’s fun.
The park system in Miami County is amazing! The parks are beautiful and well-maintained. They have lots of hiking trails, natural wonders, and recreational opportunities. My favorite is Charleston Falls. It’s accessible to a lot of people and the hiking loops are pretty good. I live near Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary. The boardwalk makes it accessible even for people in wheelchairs. It’s especially nice in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming.
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