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      J40 Farm Crawl stops at Troy Academy

      The Villages of Van Buren County got a lot of traffic on Saturday for the annual J40 Farm Crawl. The event highlighted over 10 family farms and businesses.

      One of the stops on the crawl was the Troy Academy, which was the first institute of higher education west of the Mississippi. It was built in 1853 as a professional training center for careers like doctors and lawyers.

      In the beginning of the 1900s it was part of the Troy School. Then the building was abandoned for many years until Rhonda Curtisâ??s father and other members of the community decided to renovate it and get it a spot on the National Registry of Historic Places.

      "I think the history of this country needs to be preserved, we're losing it," said Curtis. "It helped with the education of the country. The country was beginning back then and several people came here and furthered their education and went on to different states, different locations."

      Today the building is a museum used to showcase what life was like over 160 years ago. Zach Houf volunteers to renovate the building. He says his curiosity of what the building was inspired him to get involved to help preserve it.

      "It's always important for people to understand the history and how some things that we do today come from this," said Houf.

      One of the participants on the crawl showed up to the Troy Academy in a 1930s Model A Ford, one of many in a group traveling together. The group said they appreciate the history of the Troy Academy and many other places in Van Buren County.

      "We've done this before it's fun, some of us get together with the old Model As and take them on a tour. We enjoy it. We just like the history and like to see it," said Richard Hemm.

      According to Curtis, the future of the Troy Academy depends on the amount of volunteers and donations it receives. To help with the preservation, call her at (641)-675-3862.