Trombley/Centre House celebrates its legacy in the community with an old-fashioned ice cream social

History comes alive at the Trombley/Centre House on Sat., Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the “Ice Cream Social and Old-Fashion Games.”

The house is Bay City’s historic landmark located in Veterans Memorial Park at 901 John F. Kennedy Drive. 
During the River of Time event, the Trombley/Centre House opened its doors to hundreds of visitors. People were welcome to tour through the Victorian parlor and kitchen to learn about life in the 1800s in Bay County. Unfortunately, this opportunity was lost when the River of Time re-located to a new site.

The home is significant to Bay City’s history. First, it is Bay City’s oldest frame structure. Two of the first permanent residents in the area, Joseph and Mader Trombley, had the home constructed near 24th and Water streets.

Its classic Greek Revival Style was popular in the Midwest from the 1820s through 1840s. Over the years, the house underwent some changes, with the addition of a kitchen and the subtraction of a porch. In 1846, it became a boarding home. After World War II, it was renovated into apartments.

In 1981, the house again entered prominence when the Historical Society arranged to move it. It was lifted by crane, placed on a barge, and moved down the Saginaw River to its current location in Veterans Memorial Park. Since then, the house has undergone further renovations and is celebrated through programs throughout the year. 

You can see the inside of the home during the Ice Cream Social and Old-Fashion Games or by visiting the Historical Society’s TikTok.

The Bay County Historical Society hopes the Ice Cream Social becomes an annual event celebrating the Trombley/Centre House and the legacy it has built in the community

Sue Vandenbrooks, President of the Tromble/Centre House Committee, often talks about the special relationship that the citizens of Bay City have with the house.

She recently wrote, “The word legacy has multiple meanings, but when thinking about Bay City’s relationship with the Trombley House, there is a single meaning: ‘a long-lasting impact of a particular event that took place in the past.’ Over forty years ago, a decision was made to float the oldest house in Bay City by barge, to a public place in Veterans Memorial Park. This made the house, which had been privately owned for many generations, a house owned by the public, the citizens of our own Bay County.”

On Sat., Sept. 16, families can enjoy a full day of old-fashioned games and activities, which include creating pirate hats, kites, and church dolls, story time with the Bay County Library System, tug of war, musical chairs, and potato sack races.

Children can try walking on stilts and churning butter.

Individuals are welcome to decorate their bikes and join in a bike parade at noon. All bike parade participants must RSVP their spot by calling the Museum at (989) 893-5733.

The Olde Thyme Herb Society will be hosting a white elephant sale and the Bay Heritage Quilters Guild will offer demonstrations inside the house.

Ice cream will be available to all until supplies last. Food items will be for sale in the house, and 5-2-oh Food Truck will be on-site all day for lunch or snack purchases. Admission and activities are free.  
The “Ice Cream Social and Old-Fashion Games” Schedule of Events:

10 a.m. to Noon: Make a pirate hat and church doll, and churn butter
10:30 a.m.: Storytime with the Bay County Library System
Noon: Bike Parade (pre-registration required)
12:30 to 4 p.m.: Make kites and blow huge bubbles
1 p.m.: Musical chairs
2 p.m.: Apron modeling 
Another upcoming event at the house is the Art & History program on Sept. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. This collaborative program between the Bay County Historical Society and Studio 23/The Art Center is perfect for beginner painters interested in the history of Bay County.

Instructor Rochelle Dula will guide guests through the painting step-by-step, and historian Sam Fitzpatrick will talk about the history of the Trombley House. The workshop will include all the materials needed to create one 16- x 20-inch painting of the Trombley House. The cost is $45. Register by contacting Studio 23
To learn more about the history and upcoming events at the Trombley/Center House visit the Bay County Historical Society’s website:

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