CLINTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Summit County, Ohio

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HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF CLINTON

1894 Farmers Mill Myrtle canal boat
1894 Farmers Milling Company located at the corner of Water and North Streets.
It burned to the ground during a raging fire July 5th 1909 that destroyed the North Street business district.

 
THIS WAS CLINTON

The small crossroads of a village now known as Clinton has a past as intriguing as the canal that flowed through it. The land belonged to the Indians until 1807 when land west of the Tuscarawas River was added to Franklin Township. Settlers were attracted to the rich soil, the river and the Chippewa Creek water supply. Like most communities, Clinton was shaped and its identity defined by the history that unfolded here.

The Village was laid out in 1816 and grew in a slow, quiet fashion until 1827 when the Canal Builders arrived. A flood of residents from everywhere poured in. Doctors, Lawyers, Merchants and Farmers flourished along the canal. Homes, Stores, Taverns and Warehouses were hammered together above the swampy soil and the village grew up overnight. Clinton became the business and transportation center for several counties. Between the years of 1827 and 1840 Clinton rivaled Akron as the coming big city along the canal corridor.

Local histories also note that the Clinton area provided assistance to runaway slaves during the antebellum era. Many African-Americans worked as boatmen and muleskinners. A common passage through Ohio for runaway slaves was situated just west of the village in a heavily wooded area called "Chestnut Ridge".

While the canal business was still flourishing, Clinton was blessed with a second boom, the discovery of Bituminous Coal, which undershot the entire area. Shipping to Akron and Cleveland via the canal was a businessman's dream. Deals were made and an army of Miners descended upon the area. Saturday nights, guns were more prevalent than baths as Main Street surged with fights, shootings and cuttings.
With the coming of the "Iron Horse" canal business dwindled and the boom days ended in the 1880's. The canal was in need of major and costly repairs to continue to function efficiently. A feeble attempt to overhaul the system failed and tolls no longer covered expenses. Already in a decline, the 1903 flood left destruction which despite tries at restoration; it was unable to recover, attracting only pleasure trade.

 
McLaughlin Crew repairing canal 1910
McLaughlin Crew repairing the canal in 1909
 

Just as water played a role in the birth of the canal, so it played just as an important part in its demise. A record snowfall followed by record heavy spring rains filled all reservoirs to excess, spilling over into the canal, destroying aqueducts and everything else in its path. This second flood in 1913, the worst in Ohio history had again destroyed the canal. As water raged, miles of towpath and banks were lost. Some locks had to be dynamited to decrease the danger.

 
Clinton Main Street flood 1913
Main Street looking east - 1913


The devastation combined with declining usage could not justify the repair cost.
This major flood proclaimed the end of the Ohio & Erie Canal as a transportation giant.

 
EXPLORE OUR QUAINT VILLAGE

The National Register of Historic Places has listed ten sites in Clinton Village.
We will feature each one in the ensuing months.

The Jonathan Price Home
The Jonathan Price Home - 1854 - 7905 Main Street

One of the most ornate houses in Summit County, this home reflects the degree of prosperity that the Ohio & Erie Canal brought to the small community of Clinton.

Affectionately known locally as "The Gingerbread House", it occupies a prominent location on the corner of Main and Fulton Streets.

The Gothic Revival style is a 19th century adaptation of the late Medival forms of architecture. It is credited to Alexander Jackson Davis who popularized Gothic Revival through his Pattern Books, notably, "The Architecture of Cottage Houses" 1850.

Characteristics include steeply sloped gable roof with fish-scale shingles and Board and Batten siding with chamfered edges. A prominent, scrolled verge board skirts the bottom of the projective eave around the core section of the building. The gable apex is marked by a central finial with pyramid shaped top, chamfered edges and a bun pendant. The foundation consists of dressed and cut sandstone which evidence chisel marks. The flat roofed front porch canopy is supported by two Doric columns. The trabeated entryway features a four light transom and three paneled paired sidelights. The "outhouse", which is extant, also has a steeply pitched roof and fish-scale shingles. The total cost of construction, including the lot ($48) was $1,056.

The 1854 Mathews and Tainton Atlas contains a street map of Clinton and references the home owner "John" Price, General Merchandise and Coal Merchant. His office is believed to have been located on Lot 57 on North Street. He also owned a few lots that lined the Canal Basin on Water Street which served as a "parking lot" for Canal Boats.

The house represents the influence of ideas beyond the local area that also arrived via the Canal Boats along with those passengers and goods. It testifies to the owner's status in the community and level of sophistication that Mr. Price expressed through the design and construction.

 

 
Warwick Mansion - The Francis Becker House – 1854
3010 Hickory Street

Located in what was formerly the town of Warwick, this Greek Revival’s property tract was originally Congressional land owned by the Federal Government. It’s character is defined by decorative Greek Revival elements such as a cornice line adorned with dentils and wide freize boards. The facade features five bays with a central entry. The trabeated entryway contains pilasters with an entablature. Dual interior chimneys and a second floor balcony overlooking both the staircase and the first floor entryway add to its charm.

Francis Becker built the home in 1854 at a total cost for property and construction of $5597. Owning several Coal Mines with interest also in railroad operations, he was indeed, an important Businessman in the area.
After he died, at age 38, his business partner, David Tod, Governor of Ohio 1862-1864) purchased the property which also included tramlines vital to transporting coal from Rogues Hollow to Clinton. Historical information suggests that he never lived in the home. Becker and Tod, Coal Merchants, were indicative of the expansion of the community as a “Break-of-Bulk” point for shipments on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

In 1872 the property was purchased by John G. Warwick of Massillon, Director of three local railroads. Mr. Warwick also had interest in mining ventures and the rich coal holdings of the area were a great attraction. Records indicate he, also, never lived in the home.

In the late 1890’s, he and a real estate developer from Cleveland plotted his property into approximately 962 lots for development. A balloon ascension was held as part of the sale.
 

Balloon ascension at Warwick when lots were sold
Balloon ascension at Warwick when lots were sold - photo by Phidella Smith

He was elected to Congress and died while in office. His Widow took over the business affairs founding Warwick Furnace Factory in 1896 and Warwick Glass in 1901.

This Coal Mine Owner’s picnic in 1901 illustrates changes were made to the original façade such as a shed porch roof and metal balcony railings yet the splendor lived on just as it does today amid the current renovation.
 

  Francis Becker House
Francis Becker House - 1854 - 3010 Hickory Street

 

Limbach Block loggers on Main Street at Clark House
The LIMBACH BLOCK, built between 1878 and 1888 by the Limbach brothers,
Martin, Adam and Jacob at 7845 Main St.

The Limabach brothers owned canal boats which were used to haul lime and gravel for construction. Fearing the weight of the three story brick structure, the hull of an abandoned canal boat was used as a base. They believed it then would rise and fall with the swamp level. This being the first brick building, they were offered a piece of Cleveland Square to build it there. Cost of construction $2900.

It is representative of the Italianate style of commercial buildings which dominated the Main Streets of America during the late 19th century. In 1903 it became the home of the CLINTON SAVINGS BANK.

A Dance Hall was located on the third floor which was "socially off limits" to local Ladies. Standing on the corner of Main and Water Streets, on a quiet summers eve, you can almost hear the whisper of music and the tap of dancing feet drifting down from above as "Butch", the lamplighter, goes from pole to pole , ladder and oil in hand.

Limbach Block courtyard sign Limbach Block Courtyard

 

 
William Smith home
The William Smith House

Built in 1895, this Queen Anne style house represents the built environment from the Railroad era and the prosperity it brought to the Village. The wood balloon framed and gabled construction features a front entrance detailed with saw-tooth treatment.

Will Smith co-owned a large lumbering operation with planning and saw mill on North Street east of the canal. His business was an important part of the community economy. He was a founding member of the Clinton Savings Bank and served on the board of the Franklin Industrial Company of Warwick.

The house today continues to retain its historic integrity.

 

Sorrick Oster Store
The Sorrick-Oster Store

This high style Greek Revival, built in 1846, is as historically significant as the Mustill Store in Akron. The gabled front section which served as the store is post and beam construction. Surviving the horrendous 1909 downtown fire, it is the only canal era commercial building extant in the Village. It served the canal passengers and boat crews. It is an example of development directly resulting from the opening of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Soloman Sorrick co-owned the only grain mill, the Clinton Roller Mill. It is quite possible that his choice of building style resulted from his business interactions and connections with the New England Extended "Western Reserve Culture". He operated a "provisions shop" on the property which also functioned as a saloon.

In 1884 John Hiltbrand opened his Harness Shop on the site, and in 1909 Alice Brown ran her millinery shop there.


Humberger House, 7616 N. Second Street

Built in 1903 by the President of Warwick Glass Factory, this house is a fine example of the Crafsman style of architecture. The only cut sandstone block foundation in the Warwick/Clinton area, reflects the importance of the quarrying in Warwick during the industrial era of Clinton history.

 

 

The David C. Smith Home

Built in 1894, the Queen Anne style David C. Smith home at 7966 Cleveland-Massillon Road, with its historical integrity well preserved, is a fitting tribute to the prominent business man and civic leader. The house and the two story post and beam barn to the west represent the built environment from the railroad era and the prosperity it brought to Clinton.

Mr .Smith and his brother, William, co-owned a lumber yard located near the Guard Lock. In 1903 he purchased the Housman Hardware, renamed it the D.C. Smith Hardware and the business remained a mainstay of the community block through the 20th century.

Lewis, the youngest of his eight children, took over the hardware store and also served as Executive Director for the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Agency. Lewis served as Mayor of Clinton from 1926 to 1928.

The home has remained in the family for nearly all of its years and is now lovingly cared for by David's Grandaughter Ms. Susan Smith.

 

 

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