June 2008 Issue
A Brush with History
Tour Ohio’s Best Hometowns - Chillicothe
“Chillicothe,” a Shawnee word meaning “principal town,” is a fitting name for this charming, picturesque community in the rolling hills of Appalachian Ohio. Chillicothe was the state’s first capital (from 1803 to 1809), and to this day remains a town steeped in history, culture and tradition.
History buffs of all ages will find much to admire during a visit to Chillicothe, from guided tours of historical and architectural treasures, to a view of the humbling earthworks at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, to taking in a performance of the outdoor drama “Tecumseh!”
After driving into town via Bridge Street, park your car and set out on foot for a tour of the town’s historic First Capital district. Local historian Kevin B. Coleman, who dresses in the garb of a citizen of 1803, offers guided tours of all aspects of the town. His First Capital tour takes visitors on a half-hour scenic and educational stroll down Paint Street, explaining, along the way, the history of the town’s architecture.
Next, head over to the Ross County Heritage Center, which houses historical artifacts and documents, and operates three museums and a library. While there, learn about the life and culture of Chillicothe from 1800 to 1830 at the Knoles Log House, which features displays of furniture and household tools from the period. And stop by the Franklin House, built in 1907, which documents the history of women in Ross County through rotating exhibits of clothing, accessories, quilts, furniture and other everyday items.
Continue your tour through history at the Adena Mansion & Gardens, which was home to Ohio’s sixth governor, Thomas Worthington, and is now a museum and education center. And as you walk the grounds, looking east from the north lawn of the mansion, a clearing in the brush offers an unforgettable view of the Scioto River Valley. This is the same view that inspired, and is represented in, the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.
If all this sightseeing has whetted your appetite for more than history, stop into Grinder’s Coffee and Café for a sandwich and the restaurant’s signature homemade potato chips, which are delivered to every table at the start of a meal. Or grab a burger at Crosskeys Tavern, a popular hangout for the after-work crowd.
Then, continue on your journey through time at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, which features two dozen man-made preserved earthworks, likely created between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500.
No visit to Chillicothe would be complete, however, without taking in a production of “Tecumseh!,” a professionally produced outdoor drama, complete with horses and battle sequences. “Tecumseh!,” which has drawn more than 2 million visitors over its 36-year history, takes place every summer at Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre. The production generally runs from 8 to 10:45 p.m., with opportunities to meet the cast members directly following the performance, which makes for an exciting (if late) evening for the family.
Fortunately, there are five bed and breakfasts located in Chillicothe’s historic downtown, including Atwood House, a Greek Revival home built in 1843, and the Greenhouse, a Queen Anne-style home built in 1894 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.