Dean-O-Matic

Troy’s Motor Court aka Troy’s Camp aka Troy’s Tea Room, New Hill, NC

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Troy's Motor Court postcard

The vintage postcard above is a picture of Troy’s Motor Court, a wonderful example of the roadside motor courts built along US highways in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, most of the cabins and the gas station are still standing on old Route 1 in New Hill, NC.

I know very little about the place beyond three online sources that I’ve found and from which I quote below.

Here’s an article from the Raleigh News & Observer published in 1998:

Triangle history: Son preserves lore of travelers’ rest
By TREVA JONES, Staff Writer

NEW HILL — Time marched by Troy’s Motor Court on Old U.S. 1. Modern motels, with air conditioning and swimming pools, nudged out the motor courts that dotted main highways in the 1920s and ’30s, offering respite to travelers. And in 1964, when the new U.S. 64 was completed less than a mile from Troy’s, business dried up.

But some of Troy’s units still stand — and are even the focus of lore among local oldtimers. One story is that the outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow took a break from their legendary robberies there. “I heard they stayed up at one of the cabins at my mother’s,” said W. Troy Roundy Jr., whose parents started the motor court. “I heard that they spent a night there. I don’t know what year or anything.” Roundy is more sure about a visit from another celebrity. Babe Ruth, he said, “just stopped by” once to eat at the motor court’s restaurant, known as the tearoom.

Roundy wants to preserve what’s left of the antiquated motor court as well as the adjacent Farmers Supply store, which he still runs, because they represent his parents’ accomplishments. Two of the motor court cottages and the restaurant were razed years ago. But the house, the store — which was added to several times — and five cottages remain.

Roundy’s family moved in 1928 from Chatham County to New Hill, southwest of Cary. His father, W.T. Roundy Sr., built a store, a house, the motel and the restaurant. “I’ve heard him say that this was the only [motor court] between here and Henderson,” Roundy said. The facilities were simple: small, white wooden buildings with green trim, tiny porches in front and carports on the sides. A unit was one furnished room with a radiator for heat and a small bathroom in the back. The boiler house still stands in the yard. In summer’s heat, patrons cooled off by fanning with cardboard church fans.

Roundy said almost everyone thinks his own mother is the best cook, but he is convinced that his mother took that honor. She ran the tearoom. He remembers her fried chicken and sweet potato biscuits. When anybody wanted a chicken dinner, Ursule Roundy sent her young son to fetch a chicken. He had to catch the bird, wring its neck and hand it over to his mother. She took it from there. He also cut wood for the tearoom stove.

Roundy bought the store from his father about 1947 and later built his own house behind it. After his father died and the motel business dried up, his mother rented the units as apartments. They were closed years ago. When his mother died, Roundy bought his siblings’ part of the property. A while back, he had the units, which he uses for storage, reroofed. “I didn’t want everything to go to pot,” he said.

Troy's Cabin Camp aka Troy's Motor Court, New Hill, NC by Dean Jeffrey

Here’s an excerpt from a MySpace blog post:

Troy’s Motor Court in New Hill, NC

New Hill, an unincorporated town that sits at the corner of Old US 1 Hwy and New Hill Olive Chapel Road, is also located along a segment of the New Hope Valley Railway that ran between Durham and Bonsal. As my GPS told me I was rolling up on this location, all I saw were three vacant buildings sitting on as many of the 4 corners – all businesses that once were.

One of these locations appeared to be a gas station. There were old pumps out front complete with hoses and nozzles. The signs posted said the prices were $1.37 & $1.47 for regular and premium unleaded fuel, respectively. The building appeared to have a main store, and based on the size, perhaps a service garage to the side and around back. On the other side was what appeared to be an add-on to the main structure with a couple of sliding windows in the front that reminded me of a drive-up style restaurant. Along the back of the lot were a series of very small buildings, most with a single door and window with a very small covered porch. In between each building was what appeared to be a narrow garage with a low sloping roof.

I pulled my car onto the lot and got out with my camera. I was taking my first few shots when another car pulled up behind my own. I approached, thinking I was probably going to get thrown off the property for trespassing. It turned out to be the owner of the property and she was fine with me taking some photos of the property. The first thing she said to me through her rolled down car window was "Are you taking a few pictures for posterity's sake?"

We wound up having a brief, but interesting conversation about the property. She told me she was the grand-daughter of the original owner of the property and she became the owner of the property when her father left it to her upon his death. From what I gather, the store was closed at the time of her father's death. She told me that her grandfather built the main building by himself after he came back from military service. Some time later, her father went into the service to serve in World War II. Her grandfather told him that he would only pick up bad habits in the service, that he would come back drinking and smoking. Well, he served his time and when he came back, he took over the store. He did not take up drinking nor did he smoke. Her father made the decision, against her grandfather's advice, to not sell beer in this store. Her grandfather admonished that the store would never stay in business if he didn't sell beer. She proudly reported that he was able to keep the store open until he died – and he never sold beer.

She told me some other little anecdotes as well. She stated that the out buildings along the back of the property was built by hand, one at a time, by her father. He started at one end and just built them up in a line. At this time, US 1 Highway was the main thoroughfare that ran all the way to Florida and this property was known as a "motor lodge". The buildings were essentially hotels rooms and the cars were parked and locked in the garages in between. Since that time, termites have taken over the structures and they haven't been used in some time.

She then pointed to a metal building that houses the fuel pumps, known as the gas house. "In front of that building used to be the tea room. At one time, Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player stayed here and my Mamma served him quail right there in the tea room. He was so famous, they even named a candy bar after him." What a cool story! I wasn't sure what to say to something like that! I thanked her for her time and asked if it was okay to take some more photos of the grounds. She said that she was happy that someone was interested and gave me permission to do so.

At one point, I asked how long she thought she would be able to maintain these buildings. She stated that she felt she had at least 30 years left in her, and by the grace of God, the buildings would last at least that long too.

Troy's Cabin Camp aka Troy's Motor Court, New Hill, NC by Dean Jeffrey

And here’s an excerpt from a PDF of the record of a Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities Project Public Hearing held in 2009 in Apex, NC, where Loretta Roundy Young, the granddaughter of Troy Roundy, urged a consortium of nearby towns not to build a wastewater treatment plant in New Hill:

My name is Loretta Roundy Young and I live in Historic New Hill. I’ve struggled with how to convey in two minutes a sense of the history of New Hill and how it would be targeted by a sewage plant at Site 14, but I will try. New Hill has structures with a variety of architecture — Colonial, Tudor, Greek Revival, Bungalow, Queen Anne — two Gothic Revival churches and cemeteries, many farms over 100 years old with all the outbuildings still intact, a historic railroad from the 1860s, the Judd Bright Store built in the 1870s; Farmer Supply Store and Troy’s Motor Court built in 1928 by my grandfather, Troy Roundy. And it is true, Babe Ruth stopped at Troy’s on his way to spring training traveling down what is now historic Old US Highway 1.

I share this because, as Brent said, it is not just the buildings, but the people and events that make New Hill historic. My dad, W.T. Roundy, Jr., served his community by running a farmer supply store until his illness and death in 2002. I returned to New Hill with the hope of restoring the buildings and reopening the store and cafe. The threat of a sewage plant across the street has put those plans on hold. Preserving New Hill is not only important for the people that live here, it is important for people in neighboring areas, too. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t share with me how much they love the beauty of the area, the little crossroads, or share a special memory of stopping at W.T.’s.

We all need history in our lives. We need to be able to glimpse back even while we’re progressing forward. One of Apex’s own design consultants called New Hill a gem in the rough and encouraged me to preserve it. So, finally, I urge Apex and the Partners to reconsider. Do not destroy one of the 25 assets of Wake County that could not be recreated. Do not put the sewage plant at Site 14.

Troy's Cabin Camp aka Troy's Motor Court, New Hill, NC by Dean Jeffrey

Above is a collection of postcards and photographs displayed in the window of what was once the Esso station on the property.

As of June 2011, construction on the wastewater treatment plant hasn’t begun, although there seems to have been a settlement reached with the residents of New Hill, allowing the project to proceed.

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Written by Dean Jeffrey

June 8, 2011 at 2:43 am

8 Responses

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  1. Very cool photos. W.T. Roundy Sr. (Troy) was my uncle. I live In CA so haven’t been there in years, but as a child visited my grandfather (William Myatt Roundy) who lived in one of the cabins near the end of his life. The area has gone through hell trying to fight the sewer plant from going through there, but it looks like it will happen. They fought the good fight though. Thanks for the photos!

    sue

    January 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    • Sue, you’re most welcome! Thanks for stopping by. It’s wonderful to hear from a member of the Roundy family.

      Dean Jeffrey

      January 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm

  2. My goodness! My first job was at that store working with my brother. Gas was about 30 cents a gallon and you could get the best hamburger in the world at the grill. Smothered in onions and chilli! Working there taught me ethic and groomed me. It was great reading your article! Thanks for the walk down memory lane!!

    Rick Wood

    July 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    • Rick, thanks for adding your recollections! It’s really great to see a comment from someone who actually worked there and remembers if from when it was open!

      Dean Jeffrey

      July 31, 2013 at 11:59 pm

  3. As an 11 year old girl growing up in new hill, i love find the history of all of these old buildings and things like this. i would love to learn more about new hill and all these cool things here.

    Cianan

    October 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    • Hi Cianan, thanks for the comment. Glad I could help you out with at least a small part of New Hill’s history.

      Dean Jeffrey

      October 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

  4. I spent my teen years growing up off Mason Rd. in New Hill from 1979 to the late 1980’s and it was a great place to grow up!!! I attended church at New Hill Baptist Church and frequented Roundy’s store and Glenn’s store across the street. It was like going back in time when you drove out to New Hill from Apex. I remember walking or riding my horse down the railroad tracks from my house to the crossroads to go to the store. Every one was like family and it felt that way when you walked in the store. It will be a shame if progress takes away this history. We as a society need to consider the great loss that we will suffer in the name of progress. I have since moved away and hope to make a trip back in the next few months. Hopefully these landmarks will still be standing so that I may also take photos and daydream about my childhood memories and long for those times of the past.

    Missy Outlaw

    March 30, 2014 at 3:00 am

  5. Ms. Young,
    My name is Can, I am a photographer. Another coleag of mine Ms Daniels, would like to do a little photoshoot at your old historical gas station. We would like to contact you but we can not find your telephone number. Will it be possible to contact you via your w-mail, or phone?
    Thank you in advance
    I hope this message will find you fine
    Best Regards,
    Can Dickerson

    Can Dickerspn

    May 7, 2015 at 12:52 am


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