Romeo is situated among rolling orchard-covered hills now encroached by development as urbanism creeps in from the south. Originally known as Indian Village for the Chippewa who wintered here, and renamed Hoxies' Settlement, Romeo was settled in the 1820s by New Englanders and upstate New Yorkers drawn to the rich soil of the area. The village was platted in 1830 by Nathaniel T. Taylor, Ashail Bailey, and Major Larned and given what Mrs. Taylor called “a short, musical, classical and uncommon name.”
Farming, lumbering, and land speculation formed the economic base at the outset. By the 1850s Romeo became a leading merchandising center, rivaling nearby Mount Clemens. Its hoopskirt, broom, chair, cigar, sash and blind, and carriage factories and its iron foundry contributed to Romeo's prosperity. The Romeo Academy opened in 1836, and a branch of the University of Michigan was located here from the 1840s to 1851, attracting doctors, lawyers, ministers, and teachers. Many participated in the suffrage, prohibition, and abolition reform movements of the period. The Air Line Railroad reached Romeo in 1869 and opened it to broader horizons.
The buildings of Romeo reveal the eastern origins of its settlers, their intellect, and prosperity. Romeo's nineteenth-century houses, churches, and business blocks, and its citizens' efforts to maintain and preserve them, approach those of Marshall. The entire village deserves viewing as an authentic picture of a small midwestern community.
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