Historical timeline of Munroe Falls, OH
Prior to 1786
Prior to the late 1700s, the area now known as Munroe Falls was inhabited by Native Americans, likely the Seneca. (Many Munroe Falls residents have found Seneca arrowheads. The Munroe Falls Historical Society Museum has a small collection of them for viewing.)
In 1786, the land now referred to as Munroe Falls was recognized as part of the Western Reserve (today known as Northeast Ohio). The Western Reserve was held, sold and distributed by the State of Connecticut in the years after the American Revolution.
The State of Connecticut sold some three million acres of the Western Reserve to the Connecticut Land Company, a group of speculators, for $1.2 million. It, in turn, sold the land in portions for development by new settlers.
Joshua Stow of Middletown, Connecticut – a surveyor and among the first exploring party to the Western Reserve – was a member of the Connecticut Land Company. Stow purchased the 25 square miles of wilderness that came to be known as Stow Township for $14,154 in 1797.
Early settlers, most notably the Gaylord family, Francis Kelsey and William Stow, migrated to the southern part of Stow Township, now known as Munroe Falls, from Middletown, Connecticut. Download more about the Gaylord family here.
Francis Kelsey built a sawmill on the south side of the Cuyahoga River, and a gristmill was built on the north side. The area became known as Kelsey's Mills, a river settlement.
The area’s first settlement school was built.
A log dam was built in the Cuyahoga River to power the saw and grist mill. This power source attracted small industries. The name of the settlement was changed to Florence.
William and Edmund Munroe (some documents spell as Monroe) moved from Boston to Florence. They bought the two mills and 250 acres of land and water rights along the canal's proposed route.
The Munroe brothers established the Munroe Falls Manufacturing Company, in which they planned to grow or manufacture silk and wool, cotton, paper, flour, sugar, machinery and tools. They even imported silkworms and mulberry trees to feed the worms. (The trees survived, but the climate was not suitable for silkworms.)
The settlement was renamed Munroe Falls and incorporated as a village of Ohio on October 26, 1838. Unfortunately, the Munroe Falls Manufacturing Company was forced to declare bankruptcy after only a few years in business.
Munroe Falls became part of the newly identified Summit County. The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal also opened and traveled through Munroe Falls with the first boats arriving from New Castle, PA, on August 4.
The canal was an 82-mile long feeder canal, which connected Beaver Valley railway system in New Castle, PA, with the Ohio and Erie Canal in Akron. It linked Pittsburgh with Cleveland and the western Great Lakes and created great prosperity for the region.
Owen Brown, father of abolitionist John Brown, built a home at 50 Munroe Falls Avenue. The home, which also housed the town bank, was built on a large water basin where canal boats were loaded with cargo and passengers. Today, it is used as office space.
Owen Brown also built a house at 83 Munroe Falls Avenue, yet died in 1855 and never lived there. Today, the home is known as the Owen Brown House and is the site of the Munroe Falls Historical Society Museum.
The old gristmill, located on the north side of the river, was purchased by the Cleveland Paper Company and refitted for paper manufacturing. The original building burned down in 1868. The new building, which was eventually purchased by Sonoco Products in 1960, was built on the same site.
The canal was closed and the waterway through Munroe Falls was filled. Portions of the canal bed are still visible east of State Route 91.
Railroad tracks were built on and near the old canal bed as part of a single line owned by the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad.
B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad bought out the original railroad and laid a second set of railroad tracks. Today, the tracks are owned by CSX Transportation.
The original 1817 wooden, or log, dam was replaced by a stone dam.
Munroe Falls was granted status as a tax-exempt village.
Munroe Falls gained a large enough population that it could receive county services.
The Munroe Falls Schoolhouse on the corner of Munroe Falls Avenue and State Route 91 was moved to 43 Munroe Falls Avenue. It was repurposed into the Munroe Falls Village Town Hall and later renamed City Hall.
The Munroe Falls Historical Society was founded as a non-profit organization to preserve and perpetuate the history of Munroe Falls.
A Master Plan was unveiled to develop the 6.5 acres of municipal property encompassing Guise Park, the historical Owen Brown House – which was to become a museum – and a Veterans Memorial. The Munroe Falls Veterans Memorial Committee was formed on April 28, 1986. On November 3, 1986, the former Predico house (located next to the Owen Brown house) was raised to make space for Veterans Memorial and Town Hall Complex. To learn more about the creation of the Veterans Memorial, download the presentation now.
The Munroe Falls Veterans Memorial broke ground on August 25, 1987.
The village hosted its Sesquicentennial celebration on June 2, 1988. In honor of this one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary, the Munroe Falls Historical Society reconstructed the Village Town Hall’s bell tower and opened its museum at 83 Munroe Falls Avenue. The Munroe Falls Veterans Memorial was also celebrated during a dedication ceremony on June 25, 1988.
On October 30, 1988, the Munroe Falls Historical Society collected contents for a time capsule to be opened October 2038. A plaque commemorating the capsule is located on the grounds near the museum entrance.
Munroe Falls obtained status as a city.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined oxygen levels were too low in the Cuyahoga River because of the stagnant pool behind the Munroe Falls dam. The initial solution was to lower the dam, however, it was determined that the entire dam was to be removed after workers discovered a natural ledge underneath the existing dam.
In an effort to improve the river water quality, the Ohio EPA removed the dam that created the city's namesake falls, accompanied by landscaping and beautification of the riverbanks. A lighted observation deck now marks the former dam site, and a small amphitheater has been added to the hillside, constructed of large hewn stones salvaged from the dam.