March Newsletter

March 8, 2024

Message from the Co-Presidents

By sheer coincidence, we are focusing much of our newsletter this month on subjects connected to downtown Hudson.

We are very pleased to announce that the featured speaker for our March general meeting will be Hudson’s own Mr. Tom Vince, archivist and historian for Western Reserve Academy, and one of Hudson’s most engaging storytellers. Tom will be sharing the details of a largely unknown part of Hudson: its past association with saloons and purveyors of spirited beverages. We won’t be going barhopping at our March 14 meeting, but we will promise a highly entertaining program that will include, among other details, long-forgotten information about some of these properties that operated in our very own downtown.

Further speaking of downtown, our Properties with Pedigrees feature this month focuses on a group of buildings – the many businesses that make up our downtown business district and how those businesses have changed over time. You’ll also learn about the role one of those businesses may have played in the devastating event of 1892 that changed the appearance of downtown forever. (Spoiler alert: it was a saloon.)

We’ve also included an item that describes a cooperative effort now underway between Hudson Heritage Association and the Hudson Garden Club that urges a fresh look at our current downtown and suggests ways our city and others might work together to make the centerpiece of our community a more beautiful, welcoming space. (Second spoiler alert: it involves flowers and plants.)

On a separate note, we are sharing this link to a story in the March issue of Smithsonian magazine describing Akron’s Sojourner Truth Project and Legacy Plaza. Those of you who attended our January meeting, where the three women leading this project spoke to us about it, will be familiar with Truth’s story and her link to Akron. We encourage you to read this piece that provides an excellent overview of her life and influence on the abolitionist movement and the campaign for women’s rights.

Finally, we want to call your attention to the story below that features the newest recipients of HHA’s historic markers. Since this program began, HHA has recognized more than 100 properties that have been preserved and restored in a way that respects their architectural heritage and recognizes the legacy of those who built and lived in them. We want to thank our latest recipients, Allan Sveda and April and Charles Walton, for the time, care and money they have invested to make their properties showcases of historic preservation. Your efforts are what help make Hudson a special place to live and work.

We hope to see you on March 14,

Diccon Ong & Nora Jacobs Snider


Hudson Heritage Association

March Speaker to Share The Story of Hudson's Long-lost Saloons

Noted local historian and storyteller Tom Vince will be the featured speaker at the March 14 Hudson Heritage Association meeting when he shares the largely untold story of “saloons in Hudson” and their impact on the community and its residents during the mid-19th century and early 20th century.

Known as a staid, quiet village built on traditional New England values, Hudson eventually became home to a number of establishments selling alcohol, Vince says. Most disappeared without a trace, but their influence on the community can still be found in historical records, including details of a murder committed in front of Pierce House on the Western Reserve Academy grounds in 1860. Another establishment, A.W. Lockart’s saloon located in the Mansion House Hotel on Main Street, is infamous for being the origin of the April 1892 fire that destroyed nearly half of the town’s commercial properties. Alcohol also played a role in the philanthropy of James Ellsworth, Vince reports. Ellsworth’s historic pledge to provide Hudson with electric and water service was actually tied to a vote to close the city’s liquor establishments, he says.

Vince also will describe the subsequent move by various local entrepreneurs to establish and operate several speakeasies, which added their own stories to Hudson’s historical record.

Tom Vince has been Archivist and Historian at Western Reserve Academy since 1996. He has been actively studying Hudson history for more than 50 years, has written many articles in print and online, and did the “Moment in Hudson History” segment for HCTV for about 25 years. He is a past-president of Hudson Heritage Association.

The March 14 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Barlow Community Center, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

The Mansion House Hotel, located on the southern block of Hudson’s Main Street commercial district and home to A.W. Lockhart’s saloon, as it appeared before the devastating fire of 1892. Photo courtesy of the Hudson Library & Historical Library photograph collection.

Properties with Pedigrees -

North Main Street Commercial District

A keen-eyed observer standing near the Clocktower and looking toward the strip of stores and businesses lining North Main Street will quickly notice two significant differences between the structures located north of Clinton Street and those located to the south. The buildings to the north are all made of wood and reflect the classic Greek Revival style commonly found in Hudson. Those to the south are all brick or other types of stone construction, and the building styles are clearly from a later era.

The event that left Hudson with these two completely different commercial blocks occurred on the night of April 28, 1892, when a fire broke out in A.W. Lockhart’s saloon, an establishment located roughly on the site of the current Kepner’s Tavern. With a north-blowing wind, the fire moved rapidly, eventually engulfing nearly every structure in the southern block until it was stopped by a rainstorm. Had it been a clear night, the northern block might have been consumed as well. 

With amazing speed, Hudson’s local business owners began rebuilding the block and soon the commercial district was thriving again, offering a range of goods and services. In the years since, the purpose of these buildings has changed often and still is changing today, but at one time, this two-block strip of stores provided virtually every type of retail service the local community needed. Indeed, well into the 20th century, the offerings included a hardware store, a grocery store, an art gallery, a men’s clothing store, a department store, several restaurants, a pharmacy and soda fountain, an appliance store and a movie theater.

The cause of the 1892 fire was never determined.

A photo showing the interior of the grocery store operated by Hudson resident Dennis Joyce at 116 North Main. Joyce had run a grocery store on Main Street before the 1892 fire, but built the new store shown here after the first building was destroyed in that blaze. This was one of several grocery stores that operated on Main Street from its earliest days until the 1960s, when Acme relocted its store from Main Street to its current location on Route 303. Photo courtesy of Summit Memory.

HHA and Garden Club Urge City Leaders to Add Beautification of Downtown Hudson to Their Agenda

Representatives of the boards of Hudson Heritage Association and the Hudson Garden Club have asked the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, as well as Hudson City Council and City of Hudson staff, to take a fresh look at the downtown business district and consider what might be done to make it a prettier, more welcoming space with the addition of more landscaping and plantings.

“Several months ago, our two organizations began to talk about the appearance of Hudson’s downtown business district and what might be done to improve its appearance,” said Kathy Russell, past co-president of Hudson Heritage Association and a member of the HHA/HGC committee.

“Make no mistake, downtown Hudson is beautiful,” she said. “It’s filled with hundreds of historic homes and commercial properties that have been lovingly maintained. It’s anchored by a public green that serves as a centerpiece for all of Hudson. Yet, if you look closer -- especially at the downtown business district -- downtown Hudson could use some beautification.” 

The committee is suggesting replacing bare mulch with gardens, adding variety to existing beds, planting more trees, screening parking lots more effectively and adding more seating to make it more conducive to sit and gather with friends.

In a recent presentation to the Comprehensive Planning Committee, the group noted that enhancing the downtown business district by adding mass plantings of perennials, annuals, adding flowering shrubs and groundcover, creating sidewalk gardens, installing various sized planters, and buffering parking lots with green walls or trees and grasses would go a long way to attracting the visitors needed to boost Hudson’s hospitality and retail businesses and also would support the streetscape of one of the city’s most important historic areas -- the North Main Business District and the nearby Village Green.


As a first step, the committee has shared examples of what other communities have done to beautify their downtowns – ranging from Chicago’s Miracle Mile to Niagara on the Lake, Ontario – and has provided specific ideas for Hudson to consider as it completes its next Comprehensive Plan and begins work on a downtown master plan. This presentation provides more details about the group’s ideas and suggestions. 

HHA Awards Markers to Two Homes

At its February general meeting, HHA’s Research Committee awarded historic markers to the owners of two homes that have retained their historical and architectural integrity – properties that are part of a growing roster of residential and commercial buildings that serve as exceptional examples of historic preservation in Hudson. 

The home owned by Allan Sveda at 33 East Streetsboro has a rich history going all the way back to the original division of land in Hudson.

The latest recipients include Allan Sveda, a local architect who has been renovating and restoring properties in Hudson since 1978, including a dozen homes in Hudson’s Historic District and nearby neighborhoods. This award is for the home located at 33 East Streetsboro Street which Allan purchased in 2011. The 1846 home with Greek Revival architectural elements was constructed by F.W. Bunell, a builder and contractor who acquired the land after it had passed through a series of owners including Anson Brewster and Heman Oviatt. It was built for local mill owner Eustace Croy and has since had many tenants and owners. It will now be known as the Frederick W. Bunnell House and is the latest Allan Sveda property to receive a historic marker from HHA. In 2023, he received HHA’s Distinguished Contributions to Hudson Award for restoring and renovating numerous Hudson properties over a period spanning more than 50 years, as well as his other efforts to promote awareness of Hudson’s history and heritage. 

Allan Sveda, center, receives a marker for his home at 33 East Streetsboro from HHA Research Committee Chair Rebecca Leiter and from HHA Co-President Diccon Ong at HHA’s February meeting.

At its February meeting, HHA also presented a marker to Charlie and April Walton for the work they have done to restore the home at 2160 East Streetsboro. Since it was built in 1915, the property has been home to many families and sits on land that was part of a larger farm owned by Betsy Lewey. Betsy sold this parcel to John and Josephine Vanderwerf in 1913. John was a carpenter who built the house, and it stayed in the family until 1925. Over the years, the house has been home to descendants of the Oviatt and Kilbourne families, and to merchants, farmers, an auto mechanic, a bank employee, a mechanical engineer and a teacher, among others. The Waltons, who purchased the house in 1989, have owned it longer than any of the previous owners. In addition to restoring the house itself, they have restored outbuildings on the property and a barn. The home will be known as the Vanderwerf-Walton House. 

April Walton, left, and Charlie Walton receive an HHA marker from Research Committee Chair Rebecca Leiter as they stand in front of their home at 2160 East Streetsboro.

HHA’s Research Committee provides advice and guidance to those who are interested in documenting the history of their home and believe it may qualify for an HHA marker. For more information about the criteria and process involved, click here

Hudson Heritage Association | |

PO Box 2218 - Hudson, OH 44236 
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