Side A: Major buildings dating from 1832 to 1898 surround the village green, the geographic center of Gustavus Township. Built in 1832 on the northwest quadrant, the George Hezlep House features Federal-Greek Revival architecture and has a closet reputedly used on the Underground Railroad. Built in 1840, the Farmers’ Exchange Store was originally a double entrance Greek Revival structure. The Storekeeper’s House, also a Greek Revival structure, was built next to the exchange store in 1840. South of this house is the Fraternal Hall, built in 1870. There were once four churches in Gustavus including the Methodist Church, built in 1856 with a temple front and a belfry, and the Congregational Church, built east of the center in 1854. The eclectic Town Hall was built in 1890 and fronts the southeast quadrant. The Gustavus Centralized School, reported as the first centralized school in the United States, was built in 1898 and was replaced by the current building in 1928.
Side B: Josiah Pelton of Connecticut arrived in Gustavus Center in 1800 after purchasing 6,605 acres comprising the northern half of Gustavus Township from Lemuel Storrs. In 1802, Pelton’s son Jesse and his fiance Ruhamah DeWolfe accepted the offer of 100 acres to the first woman to settle in Gustavus. Gustavus steadily grew into a self-sufficient farming community. With the construction of paved roads and the introduction of the automobile, residents could travel and go farther to shop and sell their goods. In the twentieth century, farming remained at the center of Gustavus’ economic life. While nearly all the businesses in the center have disappeared, the houses and institutions remain. These structures are representative of a rural nineteenth century Western Reserve township.