History of the Connecticut Western Reserve
Before There Was Ohio
Before Ohio became a state in 1803, the northeast corner belonged to Connecticut. This territory was deemed the Western Reserve, as Connecticut was reserving the land in question for later use. This strip of land was granted to Connecticut by King Charles II in 1662. It stretched from coast to coast, and crossed into the area of northeast Ohio where I grew up. Technically, the land was reserved between the 41st and 42nd paralells that lay west of Pennsylvania, all the way to California.
Selling the Land
In the late 1700s, Connecticut sold part of the Reserve to help pay off Revolutionary War debts for a total of $1,200,000. The Connecticut Land Company arranged for surveying the land into square townships 5 miles on each side, or 25 square miles. To this day, townships of the Western Reserve differ in size from those of most of the rest of the state, which are 6 miles on each side. Palmyra, my hometown, is one of the townships that is 25 square miles in area.
New England Influence
Architecture in the Western Reserve mimicked that of the New England towns from which its settlers originally came. Many of the buildings were designed in the Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival style. Towns such as Aurora, Canfield, Gates Mills, Hudson (pictured below), Medina, Milan, Norwalk, Painesville, and Poland exemplify the mixture of these styles and traditional New England town planning. Even Cleveland's Public Square is characteristic of a traditional New England town green.