Three women looking at artifacts in Marietta’s Campus Martius Museum (photo by Stephanie Park)
Ohio Life

Uncover Ohio History at the Campus Martius Museum

This Marietta museum tells the story of those who opened the Northwest Territory to settlement and features a walk through the home of Rufus Putnam, who arrived in 1788.

Marietta founder Rufus Putnam’s home today sits in the same place it did when it was built following his arrival at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers in 1788. The leader of the Ohio Company was tasked with opening the Northwest Territory to settlement by overseeing a group that would survey the land and ready it for sale. His was just one of the homes located within a stockade known as Campus Martius, which protected the settlers from the dangers of frontier life. 

Putnam’s compact, two-level residence housed within the walls of Marietta’s Campus Martius Museum has a cozy formal entertaining area, a tiny kitchen, three small bedrooms and an attic. Its wooden structure remains intact, as does some of its original furniture. Putnam made the chairs and cradle in one of the bedrooms himself. Other original artifacts include his bar trunk, kitchen utensils, tools, violin and the canopies on each bed.

“This is where they conducted their daily lives, but what were their daily lives like?” asks Bill Reynolds, who has been a historian at the museum for nearly 50 years. “Just walking through here is a pretty decent way to be able to show that.”

Campus Martius Museum visitors can take a guided tour of the Rufus Putnam House at the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is a unique experience and the centerpiece of a visit to the museum, which opened in 1928 and went through renovations in the mid-1960s and early 1970s.

Along with the Rufus Putnam House, the museum displays a variety of exhibits across two levels. Artifacts on the main floor include Putnam’s travel trunk and a sword George Washington presented to him, as well as accessories such as jewelry that belonged to those who resided at Campus Martius. On the upper floor, exhibits reflect domestic life as Marietta evolved, from 19th-century rifles to a needlework sampler made by 11-year-old Sarah Pratt in 1842. Also on the museum property is the original Ohio Company Land Office, which offers insight into the challenges of surveying what was then wilderness with tools that seem rudimentary by today’s standards.

“Measuring the land with chains that are 66 feet long … to me, that’s amazing,” Reynolds says. 

601 Second St., Marietta 45750, 740/373-3750,