Not So Recent History Of City Of Solon Ohio
As with many Northeast Ohio communities Solon began as a rural farming community. Residents grew a variety of crops including wheat, oats, potatoes, and grapes. While years of residential and commercial development have now replaced its former rural character, Solon has matured into a thriving suburban community that boasts first rate subdivisions, schools, shopping centers, parks, and high quality government services.
Ohio was the first state to have its lands subdivided and sold by the federal government and “The Connecticut Western Reserve”, established in 1786, was one of nine major land surveys that divided the area that was to become the State of Ohio. Ten Northeast Ohio counties were included within The Connecticut Western Reserve: Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Cuyahoga, Summit, Medina, and Lorain.
Old Name Of Solon Ohio
The area currently occupied by the City of Solon was established as a township in 1825 and was originally known as Milan, part of Range 10, Township 6 of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The township originally measured 25 square miles in area but over time, Bentleyville and Glenwillow, sectioned off from the original Solon Township to become villages in 1831 and 1914, respectively. Solon itself became a village in 1927 and then incorporated as a city in 1961, at which time the mayor-council form of government that is still in affect today was established.
Origin Of The Name Solon
The first settlers were the Bull and Robbins families, who moved from the state of Connecticut to Solon in August of 1820, claiming and clearing just enough land to build a log cabin. In 1825 the county commissioners allowed these two pioneering families to rename the township in honor of one of the families. The name Solon was chosen as it was the middle name of Isaac Samuel Bull’s twelve year old son, Lorenzo Solon Bull, who later became postmaster. The name “Solon” dates back to a statesman in ancient Greece who was both a poet and a leader for Athenian democracy.
Solon’s Founding Families
Members of the founding families including the Wells and Carver families, were the first government officials. Several roads throughout Solon are named after other prominent settlers such as Elija Pettibone, James Cannon, Henry Baldwin, John Cochran, and James Harper.
Commercial Activities In Solon Ohio
Farming and the gathering of maple syrup and black salts (ash residue from burned trees used to make soap) were two other prominent commercial activities in Solon’s earlyhistory. Trading of these goods was common between Solon, Hudson, Newburg, Cleveland, and even extending to the state of Connecticut. Dairy farming was another significant activity, supporting the operation of five cheese factories during the 1800’s.
Residential History Of Solon Ohio
As more families moved into the greater Cleveland area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the demand for land naturally increased. In 1926, the operation of four real estate firms and the construction of Aurora Road (State Route 43) connecting Solon to Cleveland further fueled the land boom. Interestingly, Aurora Road was originally a path that was etched out of the existing woods by the U.S. Army to transport supplies during the War of 1812.
S.O.M. Center Road Of Solon Ohio
In the early 1900’s many major infrastructure improvements were made including the paving of roads and the extension of water and sewer lines. SOM Center Road (State Route 91) became established as the major north-south thoroughfare. It was so named for the three original townships that it ran through: Solon, Orange, and Mayfield.
In the post World Ward II years, Cuyahoga County, and many other counties in Ohio, began to experience extensive residential, commercial, and industrial growth. This growth corresponds with the period when Solon became a city in 1961.
Commercial History of Solon Ohio
During the early settlement of the township there were problems with drainage in and around the center of town and much of the land was cleared and drained to accommodate commercial development. Nelson P. Bard wrote Pioneers with Web Feet, which chronicled life in early Solon. The book was so named because the settlers at the time were said to need webbed feet in order to walk through the swampy, marshy land.
The first store was established by Archibald Robbins in the 1830’s, at the intersection of Solon and Liberty Roads, now part of Bentleyville Village. A sawmill also located nearby. In 1840, however, after much of the land was drained, the store relocated to the center of town, near the intersection of SOM Center Road and Bainbridge Road.
Trimple’s General Store located on Bainbridge Road, and provided residents with an assortment of food and supplies. Food was kept cool with ice that was cut from Briar Hill Lake. This store is one of the historic buildings that remain today and is located at 33790 Bainbridge Road.
The SOM Center Road and Bainbridge Road intersection marked the beginning of a thriving commercial center that is a constant focus of new development and redevelopment.
Industrial History Of Solon Ohio
Solon now has significant areas zoned for industrial uses, accounting for 15% of Solon’s total land area. This is in part due to the fact that in 1947 village voters passed strict zoning regulations and Solon began a fervent effort to encourage industrial growth. Approximately 930 acres was purchased in the southwest portion of the city for an industrial park. Over time, most of the farms in this area were converted for industrial purposes.
One of the first industries to locate in Solon was the Austin Powder Company in 1907. This company was located in the southwest corner of the city (now Glenwillow). BreadyCultimotor, a tractor company that located here in 1931 was the first manufacturing business in Solon. It was located on the south side of Aurora Road between SOM Center Road and Solon Boulevard.
Other industrial businesses to open their doors for operation in the city were the Solon Foundry in 1946, Falls Industries in 1949, and David Round in 1951. The year 1968 marked the opening of Stouffer’s frozen food plant which continues to be one of the city’s major employers. Today, more than 250 manufacturing and warehousing businesses operate in Solon and now occupy approximately 1,966 acres.
Source: City of Solon Planning Department and Pictorial History of Solon