TWINSBURG -- The original 16 acres in the community, purchased by the Alling family in 1817 and now known as Twinsburg Township Square, will provide a fitting backdrop for the fanfare of Founders' Day, the hallmark celebration for the city's Bicentennial.
The celebration, set for July 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature a classic car show, a time capsule celebration, food, games, and of course, history. This important milestone afternoon will offer nostalgic pause, as well, as residents recall the last two centuries and look forward to the Twinsburg, Twinsburg Township and Reminderville of the next 100 years.
"Twinsburg is and has always been about quality of life," said Mayor Ted Yates, the fourth mayor in city history after Anthony Perici, James Karabec and Katherine Procop. "It's a quality of life that embraces youth, seniors and families alike. Previous mayors have made great strides to ensure that for our residents and I hope to do the same."
Related in geography always and shared values more recently, the three northern Summit County communities maintain a patchwork history, sometimes seamless and sometimes difficult.
When 16-year-old Ethan Alling came to Millsville (as the community was first known) in 1817 at the behest of his Connecticut parents and after the Allings' initial purchase of the traditional, 16-acre chunk of Western Reserve land, Northeastern Ohio was the western frontier.
Six years later, Moses and Aaron Wilcox arrived, twins from Connecticut who changed the name from Millsville to Twinsburg. The Wilcox brothers purchased another 4,000 acres to add to the initial 16 acres, and Twinsburg began to grow outward from the Square area in both identity and residents as parcels were sold off.
The Wilcox twins died within a day of each other and are buried in Locust Grove Cemetery, along with Alling and many other historical figures from Twinsburg's past, including the Rev. and Dr. Samuel Bissell.
Only recently, the famed Twinsburg Institute built by Bissell in 1866 and which now houses the Twinsburg Historical Society, was named to the National Historic Register. The only other building that maintains such a designation in Twinsburg is the First Congregational Church, 195 years old this year.
Up until the 1950s and the establishment of the Chrysler Stamping Plant, much of the community was farmland.
The Twinsburg Township Heights neighborhoods, established in the 1920s by Charles Brady, saw discrimination on "The Hill" over the decades -- both overt with instances of arson and groups protesting the Heights residents at the bottom of the hill, and in softer forms with inaccessible utilities.
The Heights neighborhoods did not even have running water until 1973.
"The story of the Heights is unique but it's also relatable to other towns in America," said Carla Carter, a former township resident and producer of "Voices of the Hill," an oral history and documentary about the Heights. "The people who lived there made something of that marshy land. They had to fight for basic necessities, as there were no roads, no street lights and no running water until 1973. It's amazing how much they did fight and banded together to make something from nothing ... something great."
In 1957, the opening of the Chrysler Stamping Plant signaled a major shift in economic direction for the communities of Twinsburg Township and village of Twinsburg. Chrysler helped the village of Twinsburg reach 5,000 people in 1969, signaling the beginning of city-hood for the former village, established in 1955. Reminderville incorporated in 1955 as well, on marshland to the northeast of Twinsburg.
The communities' growth, not surprisingly, mirrored that of the largest employer (Chrysler employed about 2,000 people by the early 1980s).
In addition, Glenwood Acres was built to accommodate the population increase, offering 400 homes for the new residents (and workers) of the community.
The Chrysler Stamping Plant was the economic anchor for the city for more than 50 years until its closing in 2009. But new industrieshave risen from the rubble, in the form of Cornerstone Business Park. The industrial area has become a hub for distribution, with Vistar, FedEx, NDCP and Amazon.com setting up shop in Twinsburg.
"As much as you hate to see jobs lost," said Reminderville Mayor Sam Alonso, "the gain from Cornerstone will be more in the long run. Cornerstone has given new life to this area."
Though Reminderville does not benefit directly from Cornerstone Business Park (the village shares a Joint Economic Development District with Twinsburg Township, established in 2002), the economies of Twinsburg, the township and Reminderville are undoubtedly intertwined. Their respective individual goals have become regional goals, in many instances.
The future looks bright for the three communities, as Reminderville is growing annually in residential housing and Twinsburg Township is on solid financial footing with its 70 percent/30 percent split in income tax revenue with Reminderville from the lucrative JEDD.
Change may be on the horizon again in the city, as Mayor Yates looks to put his own "quality of life" stamp on the community, with plans for extensive downtown redevelopment featuring mixed use zoning and pedestrian-friendly walkways around the Square area.
Alonso calls Reminderville "country quiet and city close" and urges people to stop out at Founders' Day July 22.
"We have so many new people coming here who need to understand this history," Alonso said. "We are still relatively young. I think the community is great. It offers so much more to residents now than it did 200 years ago, even seeing extensive development in just the past five or 10 years."
Schmidt says "he appreciates the honesty and genuineness" of community residents.
"I have fond memories from here," Schmidt said. "I've always come back to Twinsburg. It's why I continue to live here."