In the early 1900’s 22-24 4th Street was home to Troy Automobile Exchange, one of America’s most successful Pierce Arrow automobile dealerships. The Exchange sold the Buffalo-built Pierce Arrows as well as equipment and parts and served as a repair shop and storage facility. The inspiration for the Garage brand and some interior designs came in part from this era of the building’s past, a time when Troy was one of America’s up & coming cities.
The history of Troy, NY is rich with stories of innovation and creativity. Named for the ancient city of Homeric fame, Troy was one of the most prosperous cities in America throughout 19th century and into the 20th century. Its rise as an industrial leader was bolstered by the production of iron and steel and its central location at the headwaters of the Hudson River and the beginning of the Erie Canal. The history of Troy is filled with stories of ingenuity, from the precision surveying instruments developed by W. & L. E. Gurley to the shirt collars and cuffs manufactured by Cluett Peabody & Company, Inc. That industry earned the city the moniker “The Collar City,” and it produced one of America’s pioneering labor leaders, Kate Mullany.
During the Civil War, Troy was the Silicon Valley of the day. The vast majority of the horseshoes for the cavalry of the Union Army were produced here, as were the iron armor plates for the U.S.S. Monitor. One of America’s wealthiest men, Stephen Van Rensselaer, also founded what would become Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the city in 1824, and Emma Willard’s influence led to the creation of Emma Willard School and Russell Sage College, both leaders in the education of women. Troy’s place in American cultural lore is boosted by the city’s renown as home to Uncle Sam and where “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” was first published. Herman Melville wrote his first two novels while residing in the city as well.
Downtown Troy is full of inspirational architecture and sweeping vistas of the Hudson River. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was fully renovated by the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company and is one of only four buildings with full Tiffany interiors still intact today.
The Troy Innovation Garage building that was rebuilt in late 1862 after “Troy’s Great Fire.” A spark from a train ignited the wooden bridge that spanned the Hudson River, and heavy winds carried flames throughout downtown, quickly destroying 75 acres and 670 buildings. The devastating fire caused around $3 million in damages, which is the equivalent of $8 billion in damages today. Today’s building structure and surrounding Victorian-era architecture dates to that timeframe.