Saturday, March 1, 2003

Ohio begins celebration today in original capital - Chillicothe

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio's 200th birthday party begins in style today with bell-ringing, speeches and a taste of frontier life.

Statehood Day is being celebrated officially in Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital, but events marking the bicentennial will continue statewide all summer and into the fall.

The state is spending more than $11 million on its birthday bash, and hopes to reap millions more in tax revenues as tourists flock to events such as Tall Ships in July on Lake Erie, and Cincinnati's Tall Stacks celebration in October.

Officials say the events also will encourage re-examination of Ohio's place in the nation and the world, educate people about the state's history, and emphasize the best of Ohio's culture and heritage.

On March 1, 1803, Gov. Edward Tiffin and Ohio's first General Assembly convened in Chillicothe, conducting state business for the first time. Ohio was the 17th state to join the Union.

The reopening of Adena, the 300-acre estate of Buckeye political leader Thomas Worthington, is viewed as the centerpiece of today's festivities.

The most important remaining historic site from Ohio's frontier days underwent a $6.5 million restoration, including the addition of a 14,000-square-foot visitors center, a museum and education center and refurbished 60,000-square-foot heirloom gardens.

"Adena was nationally significant from the day it was built," said William Seale, a historic restoration consultant and White House historian. "Not only as a fine specimen of architecture, but as the home of Thomas Worthington, whose vision helped shape a territory. The Adena mansion is one of the most important architectural monuments of the early Republic."

Worthington (1773-1827), known as the father of Ohio's statehood, was a colleague of Thomas Jefferson, one of Ohio's first two U.S. senators and its sixth governor. He built Adena from 1802-1807 and hired Benjamin Latrobe, the federal capital architect, to design it.

"The house is a birthplace of Ohio history," said Chillicothe Mayor Margaret Planton. "Try to imagine the debate that came with creating state government in 1803. To share that history and make it come to life is a privilege. It was an invigorating atmosphere that we can only imagine."

Turning a corner in Chillicothe today is like turning the pages of an Ohio history book. Other Statehood Day events:

Statehood Day Prayer Breakfast, 7:45 a.m. at Chillicothe High School's Hatton Gymnasium. Cost: $15.

Ross County Bicentennial Bell, 8 a.m. at Paint and Water streets. The bell will be removed from its mold, shined and polished in preparation for its first ringing and dedication.

First Capital Village, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday. An 1803 village will ring with sights and sounds of the statehood era as re-enactors demonstrate what life was like.

Statehood Day Celebration, 12:30 p.m. at the Ross County Courthouse, the celebration will feature the dedication and first ringing of the new Ross County Bicentennial Bell. The courthouse is on the site of Ohio's first statehouse.

Joint Session of Ohio's General Assembly, 2 p.m. Space limitations prohibit the event from being open to the public, but you can watch the assembly on TV screens around the city.

Citizens National Bank Governor's Bicentennial Ball, 7 p.m. at the Ohio University-Chillicothe Shoemaker Center. Cost: $25.

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