By Anietra Hamper
Posted On: Mar 1, 2021
While you've probably heard of Statehood Day, you may not know why it exists or what parts of the state play a role in the evolution of Ohio. The state of Ohio became an official state on February 19, 1803. However, it was not until March 1, 1803 when the Ohio General Assembly had its inaugural meeting and conducted its first official state business.
While Statehood Day is commemorated every year on March 1, there are sites around Ohio worth visiting any time of the year that play a significant role in Ohio's statehood. The Ohio History Connection is a treasured resource for all things Ohio.
Another way to explore Ohio's origins is by taking a road trip to some other cities where you can fill your curiosity with insight into how Ohio became the 17th state.
NOTE: Check directly with places before you go to learn about their health guidelines, safety updates and any required reservations.
Photo credit: Steven Sylvia
Ohio Statehouse in Columbus
Columbus is the capital city of Ohio and home to the Ohio Statehouse. What makes a visit to the Statehouse even more intriguing is that Columbus wasn't the original capital of the state. Chillicothe and Zanesville were both state capitals before Columbus. If you haven't visited the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus, there's much to explore.
While the statehouse is where the official business of the state takes place, you can take a self-guided (or cell phone) tour. You'll see first-hand the Ohio Statehouse, Atrium and Senate Building. Then explore the Capital Square complex — both inside and outside. The perimeter of the statehouse has Ohio-related statues, flag dedications and outdoor displays on the grounds. Be sure to stop by the Museum Education Center and shop Statehouse gift shop online for unique Ohio-focused items.
The southern Ohio riverfront city of Marietta earned Ohio statehood recognition for being the first organized settlement in the Northwest Territory. The Campus Martius Museum is a treasured reminder of Ohio history. The museum building was built as a stockade in 1788 to protect members of the Ohio Company fighting in the Ohio Indian Wars in the late 1700’s.
Today, the museum chronicles the history of the founding of Marietta on the Ohio River and the creation of the Northwest Territory — which began the expansion of states in 1787. While at the museum, you'll experience how early politicians made landmark decisions that played a role in the formation of Ohio as an independent state. Also on view are rare and historical documents and artifacts from previous civilizations in the area. Plus you can explore the historical buildings on-site.
Chillicothe was Ohio's first state capital and central to 18th century politics in the Northwest Territory. The Adena Mansion and Gardens is an historical site deserving of a weekend afternoon visit. The Adena Mansion was the home of Thomas Worthington, who was among those serving in the Ohio General Assembly in 1803 as one of the first U.S. Senators. And Worthington went on to become Ohio's sixth governor in 1814.
The original estate, referred to as the Adena Mansion, was 2000-acres with gardens and buildings. The restored portions of the estate and renovated gardens are open to the public. The view of Mount Logan across the Scioto River Valley from the estate was the inspiration for the official seal of Ohio. In addition to the restored mansion and blooming gardens, you can visit the museum and visitor center to get a sense of life on the estate in the 1800's.
Note: Adena Mansion is closed for the season, but will reopen in Spring. You can watch a virtual tour of the Mansion and Gardens.
Photo credit: Worthington Historical Society, Facebook
Thomas Worthington was so influential to the state of Ohio that the city of Worthington is named for him. There are a number of historic stops in Worthington intermixed with modern businesses and restaurants. Check out Jeffers Mound, a prehistoric mound that's all that remains of a much larger complex of earthworks that once occupied the site. Believed to have been built by the Hopewell people between 100 BC and AD 400, Jeffers Mound is the perfect place to visit to appreciate Ohio's history.
You can also learn about Worthington's historical significance with one of the city's free self-guided walking tours. Choose from three tours: Old Worthington Historic District Tour, African American History in Worthington or Walnut Grove Cemetery Tour.
The city of Zanesville had a brief two-year stint as Ohio's capital city in 1810. When you visit the small city in Muskingum County, you'll find historic remnants to its short, but important place in Ohio history. A visit to the Ohio Bicentennial Monument chronicles past presidents from Ohio and important events that shaped the state. The Nelson T. Grant Homestead is the restored home of Nelson T. Grant who went from life as a slave to one of the richest men in Muskingum County.
Another important stop in Zanesville is Prospect Place, a grand 29-room mansion built in 1857 by abolitionist and former railroad president George Willison Adams. Adams was also a member of the Ohio General Assembly and an important nugget of history about the home is its place as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The grand mansion is open for tours throughout the year and even ghost tours available on occasion.
Note: The Historic Prospect Place Estate mansion is closed for the season, but will reopen in March (date TBD). You can take a virtual tour.