Preserve America Community:
Hudson (population 24,000) is located in northeast Ohio, and was founded by settlers from Connecticut in 1799. Agriculture was the main component of Hudson's economy well into the 20th century. In 1850, Hudson was the first town in Summit County to acquire rail service. Although a decline of industry and population occurred at the end of the 19th century, James W. Ellsworth moved to Hudson in 1907 to revive the town's commercial center. Born in Hudson, Ellsworth had become a multi-millionaire and had a vested interest in the revival of the failing city. The increase in industry sustained Hudson, and in the 1950s and '60s a surge of growth occurred.
A major mixed use development in downtown Hudson, First and Main, has positively impacted the historic downtown. The “Main Street Stores Rear Façade Program” improved historic buildings adjacent to the First and Main development. The city of Hudson paid for architectural renderings of low-cost design solutions. Area banks provided low-interest loans to merchants to assist in the implementation of the designs. The visual appeal of the rehabilitated structures helps to draw visitors from the First and Main development into the historic downtown, where they can enjoy restaurants and shops.
The Hudson Heritage Association, a volunteer-run organization, promotes preservation, presents informational programs, and leads historic walking tours. The walking tours highlight Hudson history, focusing on the connections to the Underground Railroad and the local abolition movement.
John Brown, Civil War abolitionist, was raised in Hudson. Many events and programs use John Brown's ties to Hudson as a way to promote the city. The professional theater company in Hudson, Actor's Summit, put on a production based on the life of John Brown. The Hudson Library and Historical Society, which has a new, state-of-the-art facility, hosted the 13th Annual Ohio Underground Railroad Summit. The event included tours to local historic sites, such as the John Brown House. Scholars from across the country visit the library to access rare John Brown material available in the archives.
Since 1963, homes and downtown businesses in Hudson built between 1800 and 1900 have been recognized through a plaque program. Research and a report are compiled for each house, which is then publically available through the library and historical society. Each plaque features the historic name and the date the structure was built. The plaques are then mounted beside the front door of each building. To date, almost 300 buildings have been awarded plaques through the program.
For more information:
City of Hudson: www.hudson.oh.us
Hudson Library and Historical Society: www.hudsonlibrary.org
National Register Travel Itinerary Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor: www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/ohioeriecanal
Updated August 10, 2009