Chardon's history of resilience runs deep

CHARDON, Ohio - The people of Chardon rebounding to the point where they are on this day one year after the deadly high school shooting shouldn't come as a surprise.

Most of the vigils and public displays are taking place on Chardon Square, land that is a reminder of the Geauga County community's ability to overcome adversity.

It was nearly 145 years ago, July of 1868, that a devastating fire swept down Main Street destroying much of the center of town. Buildings were lost from the south corner of Water Street to the north corner of Center Street.

Included in the rubble were a number of stores, the library and the county courthouse.

Newspaper reports at the time told the story of how citizens rushed into the building before it burned to save many of the county's oldest records, as well as its safe.

Just two days after the fire though, with ashes still smoldering, the Geauga County commissioners and the citizens of Chardon gathered in the Town Hall to discuss rebuilding.

According to Chardon's website, they resolved to "work unitedly and make every personal sacrifice that a renewal of our general prosperity may require."

By today's standards, the process of bidding out such a project and the eventual construction of a public building like that would likely take years. But within months, the design of the new courthouse was approved, the contracts awarded and the work began on the new brick and stone building.

Just two years after the fire, the first trial was held in the High Victorian Italianate courthouse, the very same one that graces Chardon Square today.

At the vigil the night after the shooting last year, Gov. John Kasich told the crowd, "Chardon rose from the ashes… because of resilience, faith and hard work. You did it. And you're going to do it again."

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