The Old Residential District of Chillicothe [†], comprised of homes of many 19th century architectural styles, has been little changed throughout the years. There are presently over 40 houses that are important historically and architecturally and which should be saved for future generations to enjoy. The old carriage houses, iron fences, and many of the grounds are still lovely. There is only one commercial business in the district and plans call for it to be removed and a landscaped parking lot created to replace it to serve the five museums in the district.
Historic sites of importance in the district include the first log school in south central Ohio (1797), the first Academy, and the site of the Female Seminary.
Chillicothe's Old Residential District is significant for its close ties with the political figures of early Ohio statehood and with industrialists and artists later in the 19th century. The continuity of architectural styles and the excellent state of preservation of the majority of homes make the district one of the most significant early southern Ohio historic residential areas.
As early as 1796, Nathaniel Massie, a young Virginian, settled a community at the mouth of Paint Creek, later to be known as Chillicothe. Only five years after its founding, Chillicothe became the capital of the Northwest Territory and the capital city of Ohio when it became a state in 1803. Edward Tiffin was its first governor. By 1810 the capital was moved to Zanesville and, finally, in 1816, to Columbus. Chillicothe then tumed to local affairs and developed a most profitable trade business. Water Street, located along the Ohio and Erie Canal, became one of the liveliest places in the West. Trade, diversified industries, together with the nearby rich farmlands have given Chillicothe a balanced economy upon which to support its early manner of living and the continuation of its traditions. A fine residential district developed, rich in architectural styles and in history.
Lucy Webb Hayes, the first college graduate among our Presidents' wives, was born in this district. The house in which she was born still stands and is soon to become a museum for collectors. R. G. Dun, founder of Dun and Bradstreet, was bom at 86 South Paint Street in one of the Greek Revival houses. D. K. Jones, who invented the sulfur friction match, cooking and heating stoves, had his workshop at 147 Caldwell in the Jones-Story House around 1827. Nathaniel Willis, owner of the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies, who also took part in the Boston Tea Party, built and lived in the old part of the Willis-Thomas-Cook House at 58 West Fifth Street. President Woodrow Wilson was a frequent visitor to the home of his aunt, uncle and cousins at the Woodrow-Butler House on 62 South Paint Street. Burton Stevenson, the author of "Home Book of Quotations", wrote it at the Carnegie Library on South Paint Street. Edward Tiffin Cook, the 1908 Pole Vault Olympic Champion lives at 57 West Fifth Street in the Smith Cook House. He won two gold medals that year. Colonel. David McKell, whose collection of illuminated manuscripts are famous world over, worked and housed his collection at the McKell Library, 47 West Fifth Street.
Others who claimed connections with this Chillicothe district are the sculptor, Mae Elizabeth Cook, George Tyler, the Broadway producer of the early 1900's, Finley, who wrote the Elsie Dinsmore series of books around 1828, and James Thomas, "Father of the Wrought Iron Industry."
Chillicothe's Old Residential Historic District, nomination document, 1973, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
4th Street East • 5th Street West • 6th Street West • 7th Street East • Mulberry Street South • Paint Street South • Walnut Street South