Grimes Field is the legacy of Warren Grimes, Urbana’s premier entrepreneur and "Father of the Aircraft Lighting Industry." At the age of 15, Grimes ran away from his orphanage home in Tiffin, Ohio, to live with his brother Frank in Detroit to work for Ford. Eventually he left Ford to become a partner in an electrical business, designing lighting fixtures. Impressed with Grimes’ work Henry Ford approached him in the mid 1920s to design new lights for Ford Tri-Motors. 48 hours after the request, Grimes produced the light Ford wanted and "the rest is history." In 1930, Grimes returned to Urbana with a plan to market his design to Waco Aircraft in Troy, Ohio. Waco found his lights to be superior, as did many other companies, and from 1932 to 1942 Grimes’ company grew from 20 employee to 1300.
In the1930’s Mr. Grimes purchased the Johnson Farm just north of Urbana. On August 8, 1943, opening ceremonies were held in front of a large crowd and Mr. Grimes presented Grimes Field to the City of Urbana.
Grimes’ company leased the airport from the city and continued to operate it until 1987. Operations were assumed by the city at that time. Since then the airport has evolved from a tax-supported to a self supporting operation offering services ranging from fuel sales, corporate hangers, private hangers, Care Flight hangar, and a full service restaurant. There are also special events including a Balloon Fest in July and the MERFI (Mid Eastern Regional Fly In) in September, which drew approximately 500 planes in a two day period in 2009.
Urbana is conveniently nestled in Champaign County in the heart of west central Ohio.
- Incorporated in 1868
- Approximately 6.8 square miles
- Population 11,793 as of 2010 census
- Home to Urbana University, a liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1500 and a 128-acre campus
- Two national residential historic districts and multiple single sites on the registry
- According to the Ohio Historical Society, in 1840 during the VanBuren-Harrison contest, downtown Urbana was the site for a national Whig convention dinner. Hanging nearby was a banner with the words "The People is Oll Korrect." This helped to perpetuate the national trend of using "OK," not only as a show of political support, but as a common phrase used today. (more)