Member Spotlight Archive

Milan, Ohio

Birthplace of the Pioneer of Electric Lighting

The Village of Milan, Ohio is best known as the birthplace of Thomas Alva Edison, who not only invented the first successful electric light bulb, but also set up the first electrical power distribution company. Edison also invented the phonograph, and made improvements to the telegraph, telephone and motion picture technology. Milan’s most featured attraction is the small hillside brick home where Edison was born in 1847, which is open to the public as a museum.

Milan was founded in 1816 as Merry’s Mill, soon changed to Milan. In 1839 the Milan Canal was opened, which allowed shipping direct from Milan to Lake Erie, becoming the largest ship’s canal in the State of Ohio. At one time, Milan’s wheat export volume ranked second only to Odessa, Russia with over two million dollars worth of commodities exported in 1847. Milan was also known as an area that built schooners for the Great Lakes. Approximately 60 ships were built in Milan between 1840 and 1867.

From the late 1820s and into the 1830s, Federal Style buildings were constructed, many of which survive. In the 1840s and 50s, the Greek Revival style predominated in Milan. Today, the majority of the canal-era mansions and other buildings remain intact, making Milan one of the finest sites for 19th century architectural history in the Midwest.

In terms of agriculture, melon farming prospered in the area due to sandy, fertile soil, and Milan hosts the “Milan Melon Festival” annually on Labor Day weekend.

The Village of Milan population totals approximately 1,500 residents. The Milan Municipal Electric Light Department, established in 1902, serves over 700 meters.

Visit Milan’s Web site