The transformation from a neighborhood school to a community center began around 1916. In that year, the Miami Athletics, a semi-pro football team, asked the Board of Education to allow the team to use the building as a dressing room and the grounds as a practice field. In the following year, a group of citizens went one step further and asked the board to turn the grounds over to the community for a playground and meeting place. Soon after, Lincoln Community Center Hall was opened. The spirit of the association is probably best summed up by the preamble to its constitution. The Center was to: “Promote the welfare of the Negroes of Troy and the vicinity, allow the use of its grounds and hall for social and festive purposes, establish recreational facilities for the children of Troy, and disperse charity to the aged and needy, so far as funds will permit.”
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The Center’s roots reach back to before 1865. By that year, a schoolhouse was located on the lot that now is the Center’s home. Part of the original foundation of that schoolhouse helps support the Center today. The Lincoln School was in operation from 1865 to 1874. After 1874, with the passing of the Arnett Bill by the state legislature, the Board of Education allowed Blacks to attend Edwards School. James Jones, who attended Lincoln School, enrolled at Forest School in 1875 and was the first Black to attend public school in Troy City Schools. John Vernon Nesbitt, also a student at the Lincoln School in 1865, was the first Black to graduate from Troy High School in 1891.