Tryon Downtown Development: then and now

Published 5:03 pm Monday, October 4, 2010

Editors note: The following is the 2010 annual meeting address by Crys Armbrust, TDDA president.

Although the railroad had pushed into Polk County by 1877, Tryon, in 1889, still only had 24 houses, 3 stores and a depot.

Tryon as a tourist destination and playground of the well-heeled traveler was but a fledging concept in the minds of many then residents. That concept was based, however, on clear potential. We had certainly the component parts for a vigorous tourism: an educated community, geographic interest, a temperate climate and an appreciation for arts all of which would combine, in a brief 40 years, to make our village known far and wide in America, and even beyond.

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To the vision and vitality of those early Tryonites we yet owe much, especially with regard to the public infrastructure which delineates our public and private spaces. What once were dirt lanes, wooden sidewalks and inadequate drainage fields have been several-times-now transformed through private, public and corporate partnerships embracing progressive attitudes.

The very earliest record of a Tryon village improvement society occurs in 1892, when members of the Lanier Club, founded by the visionary LeDuc sisters, appropriated monies from members fees to supplement village improvement society monies for the creation of a public cemetery.

That act served as a springboard for many subsequent improvements in our public sector, and in fast array thereafter, road paving became the priority, then brick (afterwards tabby) sidewalks and later, public lighting.&bsp; Each of these improvements embodies an idea, an idea calculated to make our community a better place for habitation and visitation.

What strikes me as important in the civic activities of our forebears was their seeming ability to go beyond the everyday private, individual wants, needs and expectations to devise a set of goals for the common good of all Tryonites.

That civic work to improve the conditions of our public infrastructures continues to this present day, for our work is cyclical and never-ending. Promethean-like, it is an action never fully completed before it needs to be revisited and perhaps begun again for the next generation.&bsp; Our journey is sometimes with slow and labored steps and, at other times, our pace is marked with quick and decisive starts and finishes.

Planning and implementation are the key activities and actions of the Tryon Downtown Development Association. Public dialogue and citizen participation help us to incorporate the democratic principle into our civic endeavors.

You are important to our group efforts. Your ideas matter. Your participation, by means of time, talent and treasure, allow the Tryon Downtown Development Association to act decisively in the consolidated interest of the public good.

What has not changed since 1892 is the genuine interest of our citizens to do their part to make our village environs better not only for our present selves, but for those who come after us, too.

For further information about the TDDA and how you can become a member, visit