Chardon, the county seat of Geauga County, Ohio, was named for Peter Chardon Brookes, who donated the land for the courthouse. The community grew slowly, having a population of 446 people in 1840. Chardon consisted of just two churches, one newspaper office, and six retail stores in 1846.
Over the next forty years, Chardon grew dramatically. In 1880, 1,081 people resided in the town. The community now boasted two newspaper offices, four churches, and one bank. During the summer months, Chardon became a resort community, as people from across Ohio and neighboring states came to enjoy the numerous outdoor activities that the area offered. Lake Erie also was just fourteen miles away from Chardon, providing visitors with easy access to fishing and boating opportunities. Residents also were famous for their cheese. A sizable number of local farmers raised dairy cattle, and several cheese processing businesses existed in Chardon.
On July 24, 1868, a massive fire destroyed what is now known as Chardon Square. The fire originated in the Parlin Parkin’s grocery store and spread rapidly. By the time the fire was contained, the courthouse, post office, and many stores on the square were destroyed. Damage was estimated at around $120,000. Chardon Square was quickly rebuilt. A new courthouse, which still stands today, was completed in 1869. Many other buildings that were constructed after the fire also still exist today.
During the twentieth century, Chardon remained relatively small. In the 2000 census, Chardon’s population reached 5,000, changing the community from a village to a city. This growth has principally resulted from Cleveland, Ohio, residents, in neighboring Cuyahoga County, moving to Chardon and Geauga County to escape the busyness of the larger city.
Today, Chardon remains a town rich in history and culture. The square, anchored by the courthouse, features a gazebo, quaint shops, and restaurants. Many activities and events are still held there throughout the year, including the annual Geauga County Maple Festival which celebrates the county’s maple syrup production industry and kicks off the spring season.