History of Olmsted Falls

Historic Olmsted Falls

The current City of Olmsted Falls is the result of the 1971 merger of two villages that developed in the 19th century – Olmsted Falls and West View. Both originally were part of what once was known as Township 6, Range 15, of Connecticut’s Western Reserve.

Several people bought the land in Township 6, Range 15. A sea captain, Aaron Olmsted, bought the largest portion, but the township didn’t take his name right away. Unofficially, it was called Plum Creek Township and then Kingston Township. But when it was organized under Ohio law as a civil township in 1823, it was designated Lenox Township for some unexplained reason.

James Geer built a cabin and moved his family into the southwestern corner of the township, the area that became West View (sometimes written as Westview). Other settlers then moved in.

About two miles north of that near where Plum Creek flows into Rocky River, another community developed. Although it was known briefly as Norris Falls, it became Olmsted Falls by the time it was incorporated as a village in 1856. One year later in 1857, the village doubled in size by annexing an unincorporated hamlet to the north called Plum Creek.

Although many early settlers were farmers, a few took advantage of waterpower from Plum Creek and Rocky River by building sawmills and gristmills, while others became merchants. In the mid-19th century, railroads arrived. The first cut northeast-southwest through West View in 1849. The second cut east-west through Olmsted Falls in 1853.

Sandstone quarries in both Olmsted Falls and West View operated from the 1870s until the early 20th century. Sandstone blocks and grindstones left over from those years can still be seen around the city, especially in David Fortier River Park. During much of the 20th century, many greenhouses operated around Olmsted Falls, West View, and neighboring communities in what was called the “largest territory of glass” in the country. They grew mainly tomatoes and flowers. Thanks to the railroads, at first, and then roads for automobiles, many residents also commuted to jobs in Cleveland and other nearby communities. 

In 1927, West View was incorporated as a village and remained that way for more than four decades. However, on May 5, 1970, the voters of Olmsted Falls, which had about 2,400 residents within 1.52 square miles, and those of West View, which had about 2,500 residents within 1.95 square miles, agreed to merge the two villages under the Olmsted Falls name. The new combined village came into existence at the beginning of 1971. By 1972, it had about 5,600 residents, which made it big enough to become designated as Ohio’s 231st city.

Beginning in the 1990s, real estate broker Clint Williams renovated many historic buildings in downtown Olmsted Falls to create Grand Pacific Junction. With a variety of shops and great restaurants, downtown Grand Pacific Junction became a popular destination for residents and visitors, as well as a center for many community activities.

Olmsted Falls operated a separate school, the Union Schoolhouse, on the Village Green until the township and village merged their school systems in 1915. In 1916, the district opened a new consolidated school at the corner of what is now Bagley Road and Mapleway Drive. That school expanded a few times in the next few decades. But the district gradually outgrew it after World War II. Beginning in the 1950s, the district began building other schools for the increasing student population.

The school system sold the 1916 building in 1997. In 2001, the city moved its offices and the police department into the building, making it Olmsted Falls City Hall.

Lastly, Olmsted Falls is considered one of the most quaint communities in greater Cleveland. We are a historic city with a proud legacy.  Olmsted Falls is known for our picturesque falls, beautiful parks, safe streets, and downtown Grand Pacific Junction.  The Junction is full of enchanting shops, unique restaurants, and lovely architecture.  Olmsted Falls is one of the most charming towns in Northeast Ohio.

More on Olmsted’s history can be found in The Olmsted Story: A Brief History of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township, published in 2010 by The History Press, as well as in Olmsted 200, a monthly newsletter about Olmsted history. All issues are available on the city’s website.

The full story is told in Images of America book "Olmsted Falls" by John D. Cimperman.  The book can be found at Keith Jewelers, 8089 Columbia Road, Olmsted Falls; online at Amazon Books; and also at arcadia publishing.com.  It is also available at the Olmsted Falls Branch of the Cuyahoga Library.