That was then…
The land, which was to become Romeo, was inhabited by Chippewa Indians when Jeremiah Allen moved from Canada in 1821 and built his cabin. In January of 1822, Mr. and Mrs. Asahel Bailey arrived from New York State on “Walk in the Water”, the first steamer to navigate the Great Lakes. They became the first permanent settlers and therefore, prominent citizens.
Romeo was known as an Indian Village when a Mr. Hoxie appeared in 1822. He established an Inn on Main Street called The Old Red Tavern which sadly, was later destroyed by fire. During this time period the Village was re-named Hoxie’s Settlement.
The first village lot, located on the corner of Van Dyke Avenue and West St. Clair Street was purchased by N.T. Taylor for $12.00. There he built and operated the first store. Businesses in the village began to grow in the early 1830′s and by 1837 there were three dry goods and grocery stores, a wagon shop, tannery, shoe shops, a foundry, a cooper shop, carpenter shop and a hoopskirt factory.
Hoxies Settlement became Incorporated and renamed on March 9, 1838. Hoxie’s Settlement was given a new name by Mrs. Laura Taylor. She felt the name “ROMEO” was appropriate as it was “short, musical, classical and uncommon.”
Romeo was part of the underground railroad before and during the Civil War. This was one of the stops where runaway slaves were sheltered before being taken into Canada. Many of the homes in Romeo had secret tunnels or hiding places in their cellars, attics and barns.
This is now…..
A feeling of community pride is deeply ingrained in the residents of the Romeo area. When visiting the Romeo area the first thing you notice are the beautiful tree lined streets and neatly maintained homes. One must also be impressed the by quiet Victorian charm of the Village and the unique Historic Downtown area.
Homes, churches and business blocks, boast of at least nine architectural styles and many structures typical of the 19th and early 20th century. Because of this, Romeo was named a National and State Historic District in 1971. Homeowners and merchants have joined together to preserve and maintain the original Victorian style with ther usual dedication and cooperation. There is a real tradition of friendliness and helpfulness typified by the quality service offered by local businessmen, professionals and tradesmen.
Yearly thousands of visitors return to the Romeo area to enjoy the many local activities organized within the community by its local citizens, downtown merchants, orchards, schools, churches and numerous volunteer organizations.
Visitors to the Romeo area never come but once.
They always return for another glimpse of the past when times were simple, quiet and gracious. This, then, is Romeo and residents old and new become swept up in the feelings of community pride and a way of living that is treasured and preserved by all.