The Market House
Since its construction in 1870, the traditional exchange of products between the farmers and townspeople at the Market House has remained strikingly similar due to the efforts of the Meadville community to sustain and protect the building and its heritage. In recent years, the Market House came to house community artisans providing handcrafted, locally grown, and sustainably harvested products. An added second level is the Meadville Council of the Arts, an organization that fosters interest in the arts throughout the community. It is the oldest continuously-run market structure in the state.
Spaces that served to bridge the gap between farmers and city folk were common in other towns and plans for a market house date as far back as 1810. Alfred Huidekoper deeded land for the present building, replacing an older space where farmers did not have room to tie their horses. The addition of a Market House to the Meadville community was of great benefit to the farmers and the townspeople both because it stimulated commerce for the farmers and made fresh produce available to those in the city in a way that was more convenient.
Though once prosperous, in the 1950s through 1970s, commerce declined as farmers made their way down to the space less often and repair of dry rot could not be funded. As the building approached 100 years of age, it was seen as a poor investment that conflicted with the vision of a modern Meadville. In August 1970, City Council voted that the building be brought down on December 31st.
Public opinion was overwhelmingly positive in favor of the historic landmark, however. In September 1970, residents formed the Citizen’s Committee to Save the Market House. Its members signed petitions and wrote letters to City Council members and newspapers describing their good experiences there. Not wanting neglect of the Market House during the period of turmoil to affect perception of its usefulness, the Committee collected pledges to correct unsafe conditions immediately and recruited volunteers to keep the the Market House running. Enough money in pledges ranging from $1 to $1000 was gathered to renovate the building and convince the City that the structure should be maintained.
Currently, a seven- member Market House Authority is responsible for directing the operations, management and promotion of the Meadville Market House, which was required to accept full financial responsibility for itself. Despite monetary challenges, the Market House remains a point of pride for the the community that has long defended the integrity and usefulness of this historic space.