The city of Twinsburg is a wellspring of history wrapped within a patina of comfort and familiarity: an area that has blossomed and evolved to include new housing developments, beautiful parks, hubs of commerce, all while maintaining the picturesque views worthy of a postcard. These views did not spring up overnight via the whims of mayors and city planners, but evolved with the natural passage of time to shape the cityscape we know today.
Twinsburg’s story began in 1817, a mere blink in time from the arrival of Ohio’s first settlers. Ethan Alling, then a young man of sixteen, came to Ohio to survey family owned land within what was then known as Millsville. Though his contributions to the area are without dispute, having held countless positions in and around town, it would be the Wilcox twins, Moses and Aaron that would eventually bestow upon the Twinsburg its current moniker. Arriving just two years later, these young entrepreneurs purchased a expansive swath of land and began selling parcels off, contributing to the creation of a school, and eventually donating a small plot of land for the creation of a town square.
Much of the history to come would radiate outward from the square: Twinsburg Institute, Locust Grove Cemetery, family owned businesses, farms, school houses, and church after church sprang up within view. The streets lining the square, always the center of festivities. Richner Hardware, Lawson’s, and Roseberry’s took root one-by-one, providing locals with some of the amenities larger cities had to offer, with the comforts of small town familiarity.
The pangs of growth were slow to come, not arriving with any real force until the twentieth century. Farm and field began to give way to housing developments and commerce. Countless farms, once a familiar sight along the daily commute to work or travels, began blinking out of existence. The way of life was evolving and many took note. Little could be done, however, and the transitions took place unimpeded.
During the 1920s, a gentleman by the name of Charles Brady saw a need to provide African-Americans with an opportunity to purchase land in the area they could use to form a community of their own. The newly purchased homesteads, known as Brady Homes, would form the foundation of what would become Twinsburg Heights.
Glenwood Acres was another large residential developments to grace the region. Low cost homes, numbering more than 400, began springing up in 1956 following the announcement of the new Chrysler plant. Home would be needed to accommodate the countless new employees looking to minimize their commute to work and keep their families close. Production at the plant would begin in earnest the following year.
The 1970s would see two unique milestones come to pass. 1976 would mark the nation’s bicentennial as well as the start of Twins Days, a celebration paying homage to the Wilcox brothers, who laid the foundation for what Twinsburg would come to be. Though it began as a community-centric festival with a parade, a parachuting clown named Thunder Chicken, food, and contests, interest in the event would creep passed the confines of Twinsburg, over the subsequent decades.
The waning years of the twentieth-century witnessed the arrival of modern amenities to the historically black neighborhood of Twinsburg Heights including paved roads and sewers. R.B. Chamberlain High School opened in January, 1999, giving students a new learning environment to move into following their winter break. The park system also received some attention with Mayor James Karabec securing “a letter of intent” for the 3,000 acres known as Liberty Park.
The dawning of a new century brought with it many changes: some wanted, some not, some needed, some unavoidable. Long-time mainstays like Richner Hardware and Babka’s shuttered their stores in response to big box stores like Home Depot and Walmart eating away at their customer base. The “Old School” still stands though it’s been closed for years. Chrysler, the financial backbone of Twinsburg and employer of many, closed during the summer of 2010. Ripples of its closure were inevitable, though the blow to the city’s tax revenues was mitigated due, in no small part, to the foresight of former Mayor Karabec. Under his leadership, Karabec set in motion a plan to diversify the city’s income stream, knowing the city relied too heavily on the existence of the Chrysler. Fedex now occupies a portion of the old site.