HUDSON — When Tom Vince moved to the city in October 1969 to accept a position as the director of the Hudson Library and Historical Society, he said he thought the change of scenery would be "temporary."
At the time, Vince said he "was a young library director and I thought Hudson would be a nice place to be for a few years. I would move on to a larger library to be director and my career would go in that direction."
However, once he arrived, Vince said he got involved with the community through Hudson Rotary, Hudson Heritage Association and the city itself. Vince noted while he had chances to work elsewhere, "I just couldn’t see myself leaving Hudson."
On a professional level, Vince’s 50-year tenure has included nearly 27 years at the library and now 23 years working as the archivist and historian at Western Reserve Academy.
Vince spoke with the Hub-Times about some of the highlights of his career and shared thoughts on city happenings.
Move to Hudson
Vince said he "grew up" in the Cleveland Public Library system, and was working as a department head at the age of 25 at Cleveland’s main library. He noted he knew all of the important players within the organization.
"I knew also I wasn’t going to advance that quickly," said Vince. "I would have to go out first and do something else before they would invite [me] back to do something else at a place like Cleveland Public. I just thought it would be good for me to be a library director."
He noted he didn’t know anyone in Hudson when he applied for, and then took the job.
Vince said he felt his "biggest accomplishment" at the library was introducing the CLEVNET online computer system in 1986. He added that the Hudson Library was the first public system in Summit County to have an automated system, and one of the first in the county to pass an operating levy.
Vince noted his work at the library brought him into contact with historical materials that would prove useful in later ventures. Both the John Brown and David Hudson collections came to the library during his tenure as leader, Vince said.
Shortly after retirement from the library in 1996, Vince said he was contacted by WRA Headmaster Skip Flanagan about becoming the school’s archivist and historian.
He worked at WRA for four years before the John D. Ong Library opened.
"I was there at the right time because they were starting library planning, and I helped on that," recalled Vince. "I helped design the space that I currently occupy."
At WRA, Vince said he is in charge of collecting the data related to the school, including all of the policies approved by the board and information about all of the school’s buildings. This also includes records and photographs of every WRA graduate dating back to the 19th century.
"We have a photograph of almost every graduate from 1883 to the present," said Vince.
In addition to organizing and cataloging the materials, Vince said Flanagan wanted him to promote the history of the school to students, faculty and staff, and alumni. Vince does regular speaking engagements, including an annual one in June for an alumni reunion.
Beginning of HCTV segments
Vince has taped a historical segment on Hudson Community Television’s (HCTV) "Good Day in Hudson" program since 2000. One day at WRA, Vince said Flanagan called him to the office to meet the HCTV director, who wanted to air features about WRA.
Vince recalled Flanagan asked him to work with the HCTV director on developing programs about WRA history. He noted segments were put together on the history of the town, too.
"I was certainly aware of Hudson history and I was not sure how this could be done, but between us — Hudson Cable and myself — we figured out a way to do these short segments of Hudson history," said Vince.
He noted he has put together more than 100 such segments.
"That’s been a very good part of my life," said Vince.
During the last few years, Vince said he’s worked with HCTV on documentaries about Ohio writer Louis Bromfield, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Cy Young, and U.S. President Jame A. Garfield.
Vince said he felt the "most important part" of his time in the city has been geared toward "civic engagement."
He noted he appeared before Village Council in 1970 before he began working on the Hudson Historic District nomination for recognition in the National Register of Historic Places. This designation did not provide any protection to properties.
In 1973, Vince said Village Council named him chairman of the Hudson Architectural Study Commission, which hired an architect/consultant to study the village’s historic structures and to propose how Hudson could adopt ordinances to protect the buildings.
"As the result of this consultant study, the village council passed historic district legislation in 1975," said Vince.
He explained that historic districts were created in the center of town in 1970s behind the stores along Main Street as well as the Western Reserve Academy area, and noted districts were recently expanded to parts of Elm, Rosalyn, and state Route 303.
If someone wants to make changes to a building located within a historic district, Vince said an individual would have to go before a historic district subcommittee that is part of the city’s Architectural Review Board.
Vince also served on the bicentennial commission, bandstand commission and the cemetery commission.
Thoughts on city
Vince told the Hub he’s "skeptical" about the Downtown Phase II project.
"I don’t think that the city has really paid attention to the people living here as much as they should and I don’t see why they couldn’t delay some of their work while there’s still a lot simmering," he said.
Vince added he believes the "dissatisfaction" with Phase II is one reason why there are many candidates seeking elected office this fall.
Vince said he supports the Baldwin-Buss Foundation’s work to save the Baldwin-Buss House and property.
"I hope that’s one of the positive things that comes of this year," said Vince, who recently attended a rally supporting the preservation effort.
He noted he appreciates the work by community members and leaders to preserve the city’s history.
"I like the fact that Hudson has built on this historic character of the town," said Vince. "It seems to have always paid attention, but sometimes it needs to be shaken up in order to get the right thing done."
Enjoying an honor, savoring his work
The Hudson Heritage Association in September awarded its first annual Award for Distinguished Contributions to Hudson to Vince for his work in preserving the city’s history and sharing those stories with the community.
Christopher Bach, the president of HHA, said Vince helped revitalize HHA in the 1970s and "has made a tremendous impact on the town, inspiring a greater appreciation and awareness for our local history and interest in preserving it."
"I cherish the honor they gave me," said Vince.
Ren Hardtmayer, a friend of Vince’s, said he "represents an era of bygone gentility, with kindness and humility not in great evidence today."
Hardtmayer praised Vince for providing historical research, offering commentaries on a multitude of topics and for displaying a kind heart.
"Tom Vince is Hudson's town treasure - long may we be worthy of him," said Hardtmayer.
Vince said he feels his activities such as his historical segments on "Good Day in Hudson," giving speeches, interviewing people, creating documentaries and serving on various boards and commissions has "enriched" his life and the lives of others.
"I guess I really wouldn’t trade my experience for anything else," he said. "I think that my role as being involved with Hudson — first as a village, then as a city — has been most important and most satisfying to me to be involved with the community as it has changed."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.