Historic Downtown Square
The East Troy area was settled in 1836, when a man known as H. Roberts began construction of a saw mill on the shores of Honey Creek. The area quickly grew and in the span of only four years, there was also a hotel, general store, blacksmith, chapel, school (held in the chapel), post office, doctor, lawyer and justice of the peace. Originally the entire territory was known as Troy, named after Troy, New York, an area from which many of the settlers originated. In 1843, it was determined that Troy was too large an area for one township and the state legislature split the territory. The western part was named Meacham, after an early settler, Jesse Meacham, and the eastern part retained the name of Troy.
The arrangement was not suitable with the “westerners,” including Meacham, who set out for the state capitol to reclaim the name of Troy. As legend has it, Jacob Burgit, another early settler and representative of the eastern territory, heard of Meacham’s trip and he too set out in his wagon to the capitol to argue his case for keeping the name of Troy for the east.
However he was too late, as Meacham was successful in keeping the name of Troy for the western party of the territory and so the eastern part was named East Troy.
In 1847 when the village was officially platted, all the land south of the main street belonged to Burgit, who had purchased Roberts’ claim in 1837, built the saw mill and later a grist mill, developing a flourishing business as the surrounding countryside began to settle and build. Austin McCracken owned all the land north of the Main Street, as he came to East Troy in 1836 and built the first public inn in Walworth County. It was a log building on the site where the East Troy House now stands.
In order to encourage growth of the community, Burgit and McCracken offered a lot free to anyone who would build upon it. They also set aside land for the churches. The public square was deeded in perpetuity to the village and the park was divided into quarters on the straight and on the diagonals with Main Street encircling it so that no one would benefit more than any other. Later a wooden bandstand was built on the square and served East Troy until the 1930s when a new brick bandstand was constructed as a WPA project during the Great Depression.
Today, the village square continues to serve as the centerpiece for the community and hosts festivals and band concerts, as well as the residents and visitors who stop to enjoy its historic charm.