Ohio was admitted to the Union as the 17th state on March 1, 1803. That’s 220 years, and it seems like almost as long that Marina has been trying to drag me to the festivities at Ohio Statehood Day in Chillicothe.
Okay, so it hasn’t been that long and she really didn’t have to drag me. Truth be told this is the first year that it hasn’t fallen on a work weekend.
Chillicothe, as our states first capital, hosts statehood day festivities one weekend in March. They open several of their historical sites with special tours and free admission.
Our first stop was at Adena, the hilltop mansion of Ohio’s first senator and sixth governor. We headed straight into the visitor center. There is a small museum there where you can learn about the Thomas Worthington family and a little of Ohio’s early history.
My favorite exhibit was of artifacts given to Thomas Worthington by Tecumseh. Tecumseh and his men actually stayed at Adena for about a week, during which time he took meals alongside the Worthington family.
For Statehood Day, admission and tours were free. Additionally, we were able to attend a lively debate between actors playing Thomas Worthington, Michael Baldwin and Northwest Territorial governor Arthur St. Clair.
During the tour of the mansion, we learned a lot about the Worthington family, their architect and about the house and life in the early 1800s. It was the little details, lost to time, that really impressed me about the house. Marina and I were both impressed by the width of the door frames. Strange, right?
Details at the Mansion
I was also a huge fan of the windows. Several were actually “window-doors” as our guide described them. In order to exit the mansion into the gardens, you would simply lift the sash, then open the lower Dutch doors.
I was also impressed with the kitchen, which was inside the mansion. That was somewhat unusual for the time period as most kitchens were detached from the main house. As Adena is made of cut stone instead of a wooden frame, the architect felt comfortable including the kitchen in the main dwelling.
For the entire story of Adena, I highly recommend you take the tour for yourself. You won’t want to miss the lookout view, from which the Great Seal of the State of Ohio was envisioned. Usual admission to the Adena mansion and visitor center is $12 for adults and you can find more information by clicking through to their website.
Lucy Webb Hayes Heritage Center
Our next stop on the Statehood Day tour was at the Lucy Webb Hayes Heritage Center. As you may, or may not, know Lucy Webb Hayes was the First Lady of the United States while her husband Rutherford B. Hayes was President.
She was known as Lemonade Lucy during her time in the Whitehouse. She was opposed to alcohol and frequently served water, fruit juices and lemonade to visitors.
Lucy was born in Chillicothe and lived in the house for the first few years of her life. When she was two, her father who was a physician died of cholera, leaving her mother alone with several young children.
The family eventually moved and the house itself eventually moved. When the property sold, the new owners wanted to tear down the house to build a larger structure on the property. Instead, the house was moved to its current location. And no, our tour guides were not sure exactly how they moved the home.
The tour was interesting and one room was full of memoribilia of both Lucy and Rutherford. The tour guides were engaging and enthusiastic about the subject and I enjoyed this portion of our day much more that I’d have imagined. To visit the Lucy Webb Hayes Heritage Center yourself, check out their Facebook page for more information.
Ross County Heritage Center
In the early 1980s, my grandmother Edna Reed had a business in Chillicothe: First Capital Walking Tours (at least I think that was the name). I was so proud of her for researching the history of Chillicothe and promoting her own business. I collected newspaper clippings where she lead tours of visiting business leaders from all over the world.
One sunny afternoon she treated myself and my cousin Erin to one of her tours. It was a wonderful day and one that I’ll always remember. Among other sites, I remember touring the Ross County Heritage Center.
At the time it was a small museum with a number of artifacts from Ross County. Grandma took the time to explain many of them to us and it really piqued my interest in history in general.
While I didn’t fall into a related career, I find myself still interested in the subject. This is a good thing, since my oldest daughter is a history teacher.
When I saw that the Ross County Heritage Center was our final stop, I imagined we would be able to see the entire museum fairly quickly. But I was both impressed and surprised at how that little museum has grown!
The museum takes up all three buildings that you see in the picture, along with a log cabin out back. There were rooms of large exhibits, like vehicles and tools, archive rooms, rotating displays and more. This museum, and its army of volunteers, has grown up to be an impressive learning tool for the history of both Ross County and the State of Ohio.
If you’re in the area, or don’t mind making a drive, I would highly recommend a visit. And if you’re a Ross County resident, you should consider a membership or volunteering with the group.
Old Canal Smokehouse
Completely exhausted from our Statehood adventure, we decided to visit downtown Chillicothe for a late lunch. I have several favorite restaurants in the area (like Jerry’s Pizza or Hometown Hibachi), but had heard good things about Old Canal and wanted to give something new a try.
Marina and I split the pulled pork platter with macaroni and cheese and a wedge of cornbread. Her husband, Jeff, opted for the pulled pork sandwich. We all got plenty to eat. The barbecue was good and they brought us both a spicy and sweet sauce to try on our pork.
Though I prefer a tangy, vinegar-based Carolina BBQ sauce, I was happy with our selection. The pork was smoky and delicious and there was plenty of it.
Lastly we just had to head by Highland’s Ice Creamery on our trip back to the car. We had double scoop cones all around and enjoyed them on what turned out to be a very spring-like March Saturday.
The downtown was hopping with local businesses like High Five Cakes, The History Store and my favorite Grandpa Joe’s Candy Store. In fact, the downtown area has really revitalized in the last few years and has become a popular destination.
Thank you for FindingOhio with us on this Statehood Day and beyond. If you’re interested in history of our great state or even our young nation, I highly recommend a visit to these sites. If you’re looking for more history in Ohio, consider making a trip to the Ohio Reformatory or check out our other visits under the History tab. And if you’re looking for more on the story of how Ohio became a state, check out last year’s Ohio Statehood Day rundown.
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