In my July 25 post about an RPI/Troy souvenir spoon, I mentioned the jeweler F. W. Sim & Co. This was a local firm headed by Frederic W. Sim of Troy. That was enough information for my purposes – that is, until I happened upon another connection between Mr. Sim and RPI.
Searching for information about the RPI spoon in Rensselaer Digital Collections, I discovered a 1936 article that mentioned Mr. Sim in the student newspaper. It noted that the former Sim residence “on a hill out Tibbits Avenue” had been purchased as a home for RPI’s president. Since the current president’s house is on Tibbits, I was curious to see if it was the same property. I consulted our Rensselaer Building Histories page and discovered it was not the same site.
I found that the president lived on “Upper Tibbits” from 1936 to 1943 in a building that later became Alpha Tau Omega’s fraternity house in the 1950s. Still later it was acquired by Acacia. But Acacia is located on Sunset Terrace. So… where was the house on Tibbits?
At that point I decided to visit my other favorite local repository, the Rensselaer County Historical Society! I consulted a plethora of fire insurance maps. Nothing useful showed up, in fact Sunset Terrace wasn’t even on the map. Now what? At that point the RCHS volunteer who had been assisting me suggested we consult Kathy Sheehan. Kathy is the historian for both Rensselaer County and the City of Troy, and she grew up near Tibbits Avenue. Voila! What we couldn’t find in records was readily available in her brain.
It turns out the Sims property was a large estate on a private lane that intersected with Tibbits, and that lane is now called Sunset Terrace. So, the building currently occupied by Acacia fraternity was formerly the Sim property, and later the RPI president’s house. Mystery solved!