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Alliance's Freedom Trail Walk
Item 9 of 14
Matthias Hester and John Miller laid out the village of Freedom in 1838, bounded by Vine Street, Walnut Avenue, Wayne Street and Union Avenue. Several additions were made before the village was incorporated into the new village called Alliance in 1854. Located at the intersection of N. Mechanic and Hester Avenues, Hester Park, the Hester House, and the Hester Block are reminders of the life of Matthias Hester and his legacy. The park once was home to an Octagon Hall, used as a public building. It was built on high piers. During a school exhibition in 1858, some of the piers gave way causing the floor to collapse, and throwing the audience to the street level. One young child was killed and several other people were hurt. The Hester Block is the oldest brick building in the city of Alliance. Originally, it had four apartments, but due to structural problems, now only has two. In 1869, Matthias Hester built a new brick house on the southwest corner of Hester and Mechanic Avenues. Hester lived in this house until his death in 1890.

  • The residence of Mathias Hester, built in 1869, on the southwest corner of N. Mechanic Avenue and Hester Avenue
  • The residence of Mathias Hester, today, on the southwest corner of N. Mechanic Avenue and Hester Avenue
  • Mathias Hester and his family
  • The Hester Block at 405-411 Hester Avenue

Matthias Hester and John Miller laid out the village of Freedom in 1838. Originally 60 lots, the village was bounded by Vine Street, Walnut Avenue, Wayne Street and Union Avenue. Several additions were made before the village was incorporated into the new village called Alliance in 1854. Hester was a tailor by trade. He married Susan W. Gaskill in 1818, and they had 10 children. In 1834, he went to Mount Union and opened a grocery store. The story goes that no one in Mt. Union village was interested in starting a Baptist church, so he bought some land a few miles north where he could make sure to provide for a church, which he did. Hester was a good businessman, and he must have had an inkling that the coming of the railroads would help the area prosper. In 1848, Hester gave up his mercantile business to devote his time to real estate. Hester later added lots to the village of Freedom and laid out North Freedom and Hester Avenues parallel with the new C & P RR. Matthias Hester donated to the community more than $6,000 worth of real estate for public, railroad, and church use. He was a member of the first city council when Alliance was founded.

OCTAGON HALL / HESTER PARK

Across Hester Avenue from the Hester Block and home is Hester Park, a triangular plot, which was made a park by the Alliance Woman’s Club. On this plot of ground in early days stood a public hall on high piers. During a school exhibition in 1858, some of the piers gave way causing the floor to collapse, and throwing the audience to the street level. One young child was killed and several other people were hurt.

HESTER BLOCK (405-411 HESTER AVENUE)

The brick house at 405-411 Hester Avenue, is the oldest brick house in the city of Alliance. It was built by Matthias Hester, the founder of Freedom. The house is a fine example of the late Federal style of architecture, with its parapet gable and double chimneys. The Hester Block (Note: A block is a multistory building, not necessarily what we think of today as a “city block.”) was built just south of the original village. It was built in what became Hester’s first addition to the town of Alliance sometime between 1838 and 1842. The bricks were made in kilns on S. Union Avenue in front of the present Glamorgan Castle. Clay for the bricks was obtained from pits where the lakes are now located The bricks cost $2.50 a wagonload, delivered. The Hester Block was home to Mathias Hester and his family, and was also the first general store in Alliance.

In 1948, the Hester Block contained four apartments. Only half of the block is still standing, as part of the landmark was condemned and razed in 1992.

HESTER HOUSE / CHARLES HESTER (326 N. MECHANIC)

The Hester house was located at the corner of Hester and Mechanic. In 1869, Matthias Hester built a new brick house on the southwest corner of Hester and Mechanic Avenues. Hester lived in this house until his death in 1890. It became the home of Matthias’s son Charles Hester, and was later owned by Clarence McDonald. The property most recently served as a beverage drive through. William Magrath recalls that north of the house in the yard there was a clay lion that adorned the yard for many years.

Combination atlas map of Stark County, Ohio. Philadelphia, PA. L. H. Everts & Co., 1875.

Perrin, William Henry. History of Stark County: With an Outline Sketch of Ohio. Chicago, IL. Baskin & Battey, 1881.

Magrath, William H.. Alliance as I knew it : life in the late 1800s. Alliance, OH. Alliance Historical Society, 2012.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Combination atlas map of Stark County, Ohio. Philadelphia, PA. L. H. Everts & Co., 1875.

Photo by Alliance Historical Society, 2020

https://www.alliancememory.org/digital/collection/people/id/278/rec/1

https://www.alliancememory.org/digital/collection/places/id/663/rec/4