Keystone Street & N. Park Avenue / Public Square (Freedom) / Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad
The marker on the southwest corner of Keystone Street and N. Park Avenue commemorates the Freedom village square. The village well can be seen beside the marker.
Backstory and Context
PUBLIC SQUARE OF FREEDOM (KEYSTONE & PARK, FORMERLY MARKET & MAIN)
When Freedom was platted in 1838, there was a public square here on the west side of N. Park Avenue, just south of Keystone Street. A stone erected by the Alliance Historical Society in 1956 marks the square today. There was at least one old well here used for firefighting purposes, and a well cap is visible near the marker stone. Originally, some of the streets of Freedom had different names. Union Avenue was called Liberty Street, North Park Avenue was Main Street, Keystone Street was Market Street, Perry Street was North Street, and Vine and Wayne Streets were originally unnamed. Walnut is the only street to keep its original name.
In the early days of Alliance, there were two volunteer fire companies in the area, the Babcock Hook and Ladder Company headquartered on S. Freedom Avenue, near City Hall, and the Keystone Company, stationed on the north side of Keystone Street between N. Park and Walnut in the old village of Freedom. (The latter company also went by the names of Freedom and Shaffer - https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p16007coll36/id/19451.) About 1880 this building was moved to N. Freedom Avenue at the Walnut intersection. Early firefighting was primitive, using powdery fire retardants, leaky sap buckets, and hand pumps with heavy leather hoses. Firefighters would sound the alarm by striking a metal plate at public square with a sledge hammer for a resounding gong. The fire companies would compete instead of working together, resulting in less than ideal results. William Aungst became the first paid Fire Chief of the city about 1893, and the Central Fire Station on E. Market Street, now the Firehouse Theater, was built in 1905.
The Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad, formerly known as Cleveland and Wellsville, had its first passenger service to the village of Freedom from Cleveland on July 4, 1851. All that day a train ran back and forth between Freedom and Limaville, treating people to free rides. Names of the first engines were Meteor, Borealis, and Philadelphia. Matthias Hester was an enterprising liberal man, and a warm supporter of railroads in a day when they were regarded as risky and uncertain.
Railroads in Alliance, Ohio, Alliance Memory. Accessed August 16th 2020. https://www.alliancememory.org/digital/collection/places/id/258/.
Alliance, Ohio city directory. Boulder, CO. Johnson Publishing Co., 1897-98.
firstname.lastname@example.org, Stephanie Ujhelyi. "Alliance Fire Department to mark 125 years with open house." Review, The (Alliance, OH), May 20, 2018. NewsBank: Access World News. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news/16C0F9DB9BAA61D8. Accessed August 16, 2020.
Photo by Alliance Historical Society, 2020