Historic Districts Tour
On this tour you will see many important historic structures and sites in central areas of the city of Defiance. It was not possible to include every significant site, but the tour does provide a well-rounded historic and architectural perspective on the people who developed Defiance in its earlier decades.
A great many of the sites are in the Old Plat, laid out in 1823. The Old Plat is comprised of an area south of the Maumee River, extending to the north side of Fourth Street and the east side of Jackson Street to Washington Ave.
Defiance County was on the very edge of the Great Black Swamp, which covered 2,000 square miles of land in northwest Ohio. When French traders came to this area, they referred to it as Auglaize or Grand Glaize. The area is rich in Native American history and figured
importantly in the Indian Wars of 1790-95. A great Indian council meeting was held at “the Glaize” in October, 1792. It is said that the chiefs of all the tribes of the Northwest were here, as well as representatives of the Seven Nations of Canada and of twenty-seven nations beyond Canada.
At the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers was Fort Defiance, constructed in 1794 by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne to protect against Native American attacks. A great deal of the Old Plat was once occupied by Fort Winchester, a huge blockaded structure built during the War of 1812. This fort, abandoned by 1815, was south of the site of Fort Defiance.
The canal system played a significant role in the development of Defiance. The construction of canals from the 1820’s through the 1840’s allowed for transportation and access to resources throughout northern and western Ohio. The Miami & Erie Canal combined three canals, the Miami Canal, the Miami Extension, and the Wabash & Erie Canal.
By 1845, Defiance was connected to Toledo, Cincinnati, and Fort Wayne via the canal system, allowing Defiance to grow as a city. The first train came to Defiance in 1852 and began to replace the canals as the primary source of transportation.
During that era and in several succeeding decades, the primarily northern European settlers who populated the farms and towns of northwestern Ohio were a hardy and determined lot.
They proudly constructed many impressive homes and buildings which spoke of their pride and seriousness of purpose. We hope that you will enjoy absorbing their stories on this tour as you view the physical history they left behind in our city