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Troy Historical Society
Troy Michigan

"Preserving the Light for Future Generations"
Supporting the Troy Historic Village

Niles-Barnard House

A Brief history of the Niles-Barnard House

Johnson Niles was one of the first pioneers to establish a permanent settlement in Troy Township. The native of Otsego County, New York purchased 160 acres of land in 1822. This tiny community at the present-day intersection of Square Lake and Livernois was known as Niles Corners or Troy Corners.

The original section of the house was built sometime before 1837. The small original section and the larger two-story addition were probably built within 10 years of each other. Structural evidence uncovered by architects, preliminary archeological investigations by Oakland University, and records indicate that the Niles family probably used the large addition as an inn, opening in 1837. Later they built a separate inn across the road and the entire house served as their residence.

Ownership was transferred to many direct and indirect descendants of the family until Norman Barnard purchased the house in 1941. He and Harriet Kyser were married in the front room that same year.

In March 1955, Township Supervisor Norman Barnard and a group of local leaders met in the living room. They were concerned about a proposed annexation of Troy land by Royal Oak. The group formed a plan for home rule incorporation and platted a new city. The City of Troy was established in December 1955.

Who moved the House? Why was it being moved now?

In 2004 Harriet Barnard donated the house to the City of Troy with the condition that it be relocated to the Troy Historic Village within five years. City Council accepted the gift unanimously.

The Troy Historical Society (THS) agreed to fund the entire project. We purchased property adjacent to the Museum to provide a site for the house, retained a noted historic preservation architect, and assembled a team of key stakeholders to determine the best location and use for the building. Our new site plan was approved by the Planning Commission and City Council in 2009.

We have funds that were donated expressly for the relocation of the building. Ethically we could not use the money for another purpose. The gift agreement expired in December 2010 and if the house had not been moved it would have been demolished when the property on Livernois it sat on was sold. The City and THS agreed it was important to proceed in the Fall of 2010. City funds and tax dollars were NOT used for the move and are NOT being used for the completion of the project.

On October 20, 2010, with a bagpipe playing, the historic Niles-Barnard house moved two miles down Livernois to its new home at the Troy Historic Village.

Due to tremendous cooperation from contractors, utilities, and the City of Troy the trip to the museum took about one-half the time we thought it might take. The house was on the new site by 12:30 p.m. Because of close clearances and soft ground it wasn't practical to drive the house to a position parallel to the new basement. C&A Building Movers winched the house on skids the final few feet into its final position on Friday October 29. The house now rests on the new foundation walls. Contractors poured the basement slab, installed structural steel to give the 173-year-old beams and floor joists a helping hand, and installed a furnace to keep the temperature inside the house above freezing. By September 2011 exterior reconstruction and repairs were almost complete.

We thank all who worked so hard to make this move a great success!

At some future time, we will enter the Heritage Plan phase that will raise funds to renovate and adaptively re-use the house. Currently the Troy Historical Society is focused on raising funds that will enable us to continue operating the Troy Historic Village.

Here are a few pictures from the move:

Ready to go!

Ron Barnard will pipe the way.

On the move.

Crossing Long Lake Road.

Turning the corner from Livernois to Wattles.

Swinging into the site.

Almost there. Watch that tree!

In place for now, awaiting a short move onto the basement.

Sliding back over the basement.

The house is in place at its new home.

The house is finally in place on its new foundation walls.

Steel in place to provide needed support.

Notice the great condition of the 173 year old logs and hand-hewn beam!