Hudson was originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, a 120-mile strip in the northeast corner of what is now the State of Ohio. Claimed by Connecticut until 1795, the land in this region was sold to pioneers by the Connecticut Land Company through a land lottery. David Hudson and five business partners purchased land rights to the township, designated Range 10, Town 4 in the Western Reserve. In 1799, David Hudson set out from his home in Goshen, Connecticut, to survey and establish his acquired land. In 1802, the town was officially named “Hudson” to honor its founder.
Hudson, renowned for the prominent role it played in the abolition movement, is perhaps most famously known as the childhood home of abolitionist John Brown. Hudson was an active stop on the Underground Railroad and many citizens hid freedom seekers in their homes. See the Hudson Library’s separate walking tour on “The Anti-Slavery Movement and the Underground Railroad in Hudson, Ohio” for more detailed information.
Western Reserve College was founded here in 1826, the first institution of higher learning in northern Ohio and was nicknamed the “Yale of the West” for its preeminent reputation. Eventually, the college moved to Cleveland to become Case Western Reserve University.
At the end of the Civil War, Hudson experienced prosperity, but with the removal of the college in 1882, the town’s fortunes changed. A major fire in 1892 destroyed Hudson’s downtown causing economic hardship and the town’s only bank failed in 1904.
In 1907, a native son, James W. Ellsworth, returned to his hometown after making millions in the coal industry. He helped bring Hudson back to vitality by making it a “model town”. He reestablished Western Reserve Academy, put wiring utility underground, closed the saloons, brought in electrical service, revamped the telephone service, paved the streets, and established the town’s first water and sewer system. His final gift was the city’s iconic clock tower.
With two National Historic Register districts, Hudson continues to preserve its history and charm while keeping pace as a great place to live or visit. We hope you enjoy this tour of a few of Hudson’s historic locations.