History and Culture
Huron was at the center of the "Firelands" of the Connecticut Western Reserve, lands offered to residents of Connecticut who had lost property to British raiders during the American Revolutionary War. The first settler in the area that became Huron was a Quebec-born trapper, trader and interpreter named John Baptiste Flemmond, who established a trading post along the east bank of the Huron River in 1792.
Huron Township as well as the village of Huron were incorporated in 1809. Port facilities on the west bank of the Huron River were developed in the 1820s and the town became a major ship building center in the 1830s. The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad greatly expanded Huron's port on the east bank of the Huron River beginning in 1880. The first cargo of iron ore at the W&LE docks was received May 21, 1884. The port is still in use today, accepting cargoes of iron ore and limestone from lake freighters. Huron was also the home port of several commercial fishing fleets before lake pollution decimated the industry on Lake Erie in the early 1970s.
Commercial and industrial development had historically been centered around the port area. By the early 1960s a busy downtown business district had developed, serving local residents and summer tourists. However, with improvements to U.S. Route 6 and Ohio Route 2 bypassing the downtown area and enabling quicker travel to larger neighboring cities, downtown Huron went into decline. Starting in 1967, the City of Huron embarked on a controversial urban renewal program with funding from the U.S. federal government. The city purchased, in some cases by eminent domain, and demolished 38 commercial buildings and private homes. It then built a municipal marina, called the Huron Boat Basin, as the focal point of a new downtown. While the "Boat Basin" has become a popular community park and gathering place, extensive redevelopment of the downtown area did not occur as envisioned. New industry and commercial development has more recently occurred on the southern and western city limits.
BGSU Firelands, a branch campus of Bowling Green State University, is located just west of the city limits. A separate college of the Bowling Green State University system, BGSU Firelands has been a regional campus of BGSU since 1968. Over 2,000 students in 2006 were enrolled for a wide array of associate, bachelors and graduate degree programs.
Huron is the home of the Huron Playhouse, once a division of the Bowling Green State University Department of Theatre and Film, is now an independent non-profit corporation. It holds plays in the auditorium of McCormick Middle School and is Ohio's oldest continuing summer theatre.
The ConAgra Project
On July 18, 2006, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced the purchase of the ConAgra Foods facility in Huron. Concurrently, ConAgra Foods announced the closure of the grain elevator. The 19.8-acre (80,000 m2) parcel is a key piece of Huron’s waterfront. ODNR's Division of Watercraft has completed a public boating and fishing access site with launch ramps, docks and parking facilities. The City of Huron assumed title to the former grain silos and flour mill and received a grant to demolish the building, which was completed in August, 2012. It envisions a future riverfront development to include restaurants, retail stores, condominiums and greenspace.
On January 8, 2012, much of the former Con-Agra building was demolished by implosion in a public event attracting media attention and a large crowd. The former grain silos were removed by manual demolition.