HUDSON, OH – JUNE 14, 2014: Hudson’s new retail district, First and Main, was given a retro look to match the quaint charm of the village’s original Main Street area one block away.
Driving through the picturesque square of downtown Hudson, with its unique shops and quaint hometown feel, can feel like you’re transported back in time. Add in the stunning shades of fall leaves or a thick, white snowy blanket, and it’s cinematic, hometown appeal becomes even stronger. Going back to its roots, though, evokes a strong sense of history, right down to the Summit County city’s name.
David Hudson: The Beginning of a City
In 1632, Connecticut, then a colony, claimed a 120-mile stretch of land south of Lake Erie, calling it the Connecticut Western Reserve. The land sat vacant for many years before settlers won a war with Native Americans in the area; their success was encouraging to Connecticut residents looking for a new adventure. Connecticut sold the 3 million acres of land to the Connecticut Land Company for $1.2 million.
To begin earning profits, the Connecticut Land Company sent a party to scout and survey the land, under the direction of David Hudson, a Reserve shareholder. They arrived in Hudson in 1799, and after returning to Connecticut for his family and belongings, the Hudson family built their permanent home in 1806 at what is now 318 Main Street, the oldest structure in Summit County. In recognition for all he had done, the settlement was named Hudson in 1802, and Hudson lived in that home until he died in 1836.
A Steady Increase
The area grew, with individuals bringing their vehicles, families growing and the population increasing, and buildings going up regularly: a school, a church, stores, and homes. Ten years before his death, Hudson was instrumental in chartering Western Reserve College and Loomis Observatory, a prestigious school nicknamed the Yale of the West.
The city and its inhabitants played an important role in the completion of the Ohio-Erie Canal, which brought more business and growth. In 1837, Hudson Township was incorporated as part of Portage County.
The early 1850s were a period of increased growth, and residents were living a decadent life after investing their life savings in railroad shares. Unfortunately, the economic bubble burst, the stock plummeted, and Hudson’s rapid expansion came to a halt.
Rebuilding in the Reserve
While Hudson’s strong anti-slavery ideals made it an important stop on the Underground Railroad, the township largely remained in dire straits until a hometown hero stepped in to save the day. James W. Ellsworth, who grew up in Hudson, left to work in the coal industry, where he became a millionaire. He retired young, and returned to his hometown, only to be devastated by its conditions. After requesting that authorities rescind every local liquor license — in that time, saloons outnumbered churches — Ellsworth got to work. He paved the road, added electrical, water, sewer and telephone services, reorganized the schools, added and enhanced green space, and injected new life into the banking. He encouraged the opening of the Western Reserve Academy on the grounds of the Western Reserve College, and catapulted Hudson into a period of steady growth that continues today.
In 1912, after completing much of his work, Ellsworth build the Clock Tower on the Green, and that symbol remains to be a recognizable landmark, symbolizing the camaraderie and growth that Hudson represented during its growth. Much of the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hudson became a city in 1991, and in 1994, Hudson the city and Hudson Township merged.
The city’s square has become a popular site for many events, and continues to house locally-owned, unique businesses and services that draw visitors from around the state.
Hudson for the Holidays: Thanksgiving Things to Do
- Nov. 19: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Pre-Thanksgiving Farmer’s Market at Hudson Montessori School. Local vendors and Hudson Farmer’s Market regulars will have the freshest turkey, veggies, desserts, and Thanksgiving dinner table staples at this one-of-a-kind indoor market.
- Nov. 25: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Breakfast with Santa at Hudson’s Restaurant. Make reservations to enjoy this holiday tradition. A limited breakfast menu and professional photos with Santa will be available.
- Nov. 25: 2 p.m. Hudson for the Holidays. More than 85 merchants in downtown Hudson will be offering a low-key, coordinated holiday shopping experience.
- Nov. 25-Dec. 24: Destination Hudson Holiday Basket Raffle: Kicking off after the annual races, the basket and 50/50 raffles will offer a variety of different themes and opportunities to win. Basket raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20; 50/50 raffle tickets are $10. All proceeds will benefit The Visitors Center and Destination Hudson.
Nov. 30: 7 p.m.: Seasonal workshop at Suburban Sit. Save your spot for a chance to learn how to make a holiday swag arrangement with greens, pine cones, berries, and a bow, and get some pointers on how to get picture-perfect Christmas tree decorations.