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Chillicothe ( CHILL-uh-KAW-thee) is a city in the U.S. state of Ohiomarker and the county seat of Ross Countymarker . The municipality is located in southern Ohio along the Scioto River. The name comes from the Shawnee name Chalahgawtha, meaning "principal town." Plotted by General Nathaniel Massie on his own land, Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio.

The population was 21,796 at the 2000 census. According to the US Census 2008 estimate, Chillicothe has a population of 22,296, while the Columbus-Marion-Chillicothe, OH Combined Statistical Area has 2,002,604 people. The city is the largest in Ross County, and the center of the Chillicothe Micropolitan Statistical Area (as defined by the United States Census Bureau in 2003).


First capital sign at edge of town

This was the center of the ancient Hopewell tradition, which flourished from 200 BCE until 500 CE. This Amerindian culture had trade routes extending to the Rocky Mountains. They built mounds for ceremonial and burial purposes throughout the Scioto and Ohio River valleys. Later Native Americans who inhabited the area through the time of European contact included Shawnees.

It was after the American Revolution that most European settlement came to this area. Migrants from Virginiamarker and Kentuckymarker moved west along the Ohio River in search of land. Chillicothe served as the capital of Ohiomarker from the beginning of statehood in 1803 until 1810 when Zanesvillemarker became the capital for two years. The capital was moved to Zanesville as part of a state legislative compromise to get a bill passed. In 1812 the legislature moved the capital back to Chillicothe. In 1816 the state legislature voted to move the capital again, to Columbusmarker to have it near the geographic center of the statemarker, where it would be more accessible to most citizens.

Migrants to Chillicothe included free blacks, who came to a place with fewer restrictions than in the slave states. They created a vibrant community in Chillicothe, where they aided runaway slaves coming north. As tensions increased prior to the breakout of the American Civil War, The free black community at Chillicothe became an important stop for refugees on the Underground Railroad. Slaves escaping from the South traveled across the Ohio River to freedom, and then up the Scioto River to get more distance from their former homes and slave hunters. White abolitionists aided the Underground Railroad as well.


Chillicothe is located at (39.336525, -82.983822) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.7 square miles (25.2 km²), of which, 9.5 square miles (24.7 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (2.05%) is water.

The city is surrounded by farming communities, and Chillicothe residents describe the area as the foothills of the Appalachiansmarker.


As of the census of 2000, there were 21,796 people, 9,481 households, and 5,754 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,283.7 people per square mile (882.1/km²). There were 10,303 housing units at an average density of 1,079.5/sq mi (417.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.21% White, 7.51% African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.35% from other races, and 2.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.84% of the population.

There were 9,481 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,991, and the median income for a family was $42,477. Males had a median income of $35,199 versus $25,010 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,101. About 9.3% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.


Ross County Court House

Public officials

Chillicothe is governed by a mayor-council structure in which the mayor is elected separately from the members of the city council. Chillicothe's mayor is Joseph P. Sulzer (D). The members of the city council are

Ward City Councillor Ward City Councillor
First Ward Thomas E. Trutschel (R) At Large Joseph T. Sharp (D)
Second Ward Nancy Ames (R) At Large Dustin Proehl (D)
Third Ward Queen Lester (D) At Large Napoleon Cross (D)
Fourth Ward Jean Malone (D) Council President Bruce A. Arnold (D)
Fifth Ward Jeremy M. Siberell (R)
Sixth Ward Pat Patrick (R)

Other Elected Officials:

Position Officer
City Treasurer David A. Neal (D)
City Auditor Tom Spetnagel Jr. (D)

Other municipal officials:
  • City council clerk John Fosson
  • Chief of staff Matt Allen
  • Safety and Service Director Mike Pfeifer
  • Transit System Director Michael Scholl
  • Chief of Police Roger Moore
  • Fire Chief Bruce Vaughan
  • Utilities Director Richard Johnson
  • City Auditor William Morrissey (R)
  • City Law Director Toni L. Eddy (R)
    • Assistant Law Directors:
      • Robert C. Hess
      • Mark A. Preston
      • Michele R. Rout
  • Fair Housing Administrator Tamra Lowe
  • Civil Service Administrator Sharon Maughmer
  • Human Resources Director Nancy McNeely
The officials of the Chillicothe Municipal Court are:
  • Judge Thomas E. Bunch (D)
  • Judge John B. Street (R)
  • Magistrate Jane Spring Martin
  • Clerk Roseanna J. "Jeanie" Strong

Public services

Parks and recreation

Chillicothe has several public parks, including Yoctangee Parkmarker, Poland Park, Strawser Park, Manor Park, Goldie Gunlock Park, Pine Street Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and Western View Park.

Chillicothe's floodwall, protecting the city from floods of the Scioto River, has a 5.0 mile-long paved bike path. This path connects to the Tri-County Triangle Trail which currently is 17.2 miles long, measured from Bridge St. (SR 159) in Chillicothe, to Frankfortmarker and then to Austin. The Tri-County Triangle Trail's goal is to connect Chillicothe with Washington Court House and Greenfield. This same former railroad continues to Jamestown and Xeniamarker , but those connections are a long range plan.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Parkmarker is found on the north end of the town. The park is administered by the National Park Service and has a large concentration of Native American earthworks.


A branch of Ohio Universitymarker, Ohio University-Chillicothe (OU-C), is located at the top of University Hill in Chillicothe. The public 4-year institution enrolls about 2,000 students each year.

Daymar College (formerly Southeastern Business College and Samuel Stephen College) is located on Ohio St. Rt. 104. They offer five different 2-year programs, including Massage Therapy, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Human Resources Management, and Medical Assisting.

The city of Chillicothe provides education for pre-school through grade 12 students. The Chillicothe City School District includes the following facilities: Allen Elementary; Mt. Logan Elementary, previously Mt. Logan Middle School; Tiffin Elementary; Worthington Elementary; Western Latchkey/Preschool/Western Administration Office, the headquarters of the Board of Education;Chillicothe Middle School; and Chillicothe High School, which was expanded extensively and dedicated on August 20, 2006. Additionally, the Academy for Early Learning[19560] offers private education. Bishop Flaget Catholic School [], the parish school of St. Mary's and St. Peter's Catholic Churches, offers an academic program with the faith-based component to both Catholic and non-Catholic families for students in Prekindergarten through the 8th grade.

The Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library holds a rich collection of historical and genealogical resources. The main library is located on South Paint Street. The library also has branch locations in the Northside (Closed due to budget cuts) as well as in Bainbridge, Frankfortmarker, Kingstonmarker, Richmond Dalemarker, and South Salemmarker.

Chillicothe is also home to the Recording Workshop, an audio engineering school.


Majestic Theater

Chillicothe is home to the 152-year-old continuously operating Majestic Theater. Its stage has been graced by such greats as Laurel and Hardy, Milton Berle, George Arliss, Sophie Tucker, and many others. In 1853 the Masonic Hall was built, as the first incarnation of what is now the Majestic Theatre. It marked the beginning of better entertainment in the city, as the building provided more facilities.

The two-story brick building was a combination lodge room, dance hall, and theatre. Stock companies stayed for as long as a month, performing a repertory of plays. In 1876 the Masons appointed a building committee to enlarge their building. The original building was 40 ft. x 100 ft. and was extended to 50 ft. x 120 ft. The architect was John W. Cook and Isreal Beideman was the local contractor. The stage was under the supervision of Warren H. Girvin of Syracuse, New Yorkmarker. The new stage was 46.5 feet wide with a depth of 28 feet. The proscenium arch was 31 feet high and 26 feet high. Below the stage were all the mechanics necessary to operate the several trap doors in the stage floor.

The entrance was through 6' high double doors. The vestibule had a ticket booth on one side and at the other side was the stairway to the balcony and stairs continuing up to the top floor to the Masonic Lodge Rooms. Upon entering the auditorium from the vestibule you were in a horizontal aisle across the back blocked off by a screen from the seating. In front of the screen was the "Dress Circle" in a horseshoe shape. The seats were on platforms giving each adequate view of the stage. In front of the "Dress Circle" the floor had an incline of 1 inch to 1 ft. At the front of this was the orchestra pit. The balcony above was also horseshoe shaped and again the seats were on platforms, each 12 inches above the one in front of it. The row of seating behind this was the Gallery. The Masonic Opera House could seat 400 to 500 people. By removing the seats on the first floor and placing movable sections with braces, they could provide a flat floor for dancing and roller skating. Mr. E. B. Hough, a scenic artist from Syracuse, N.Y., was hired to decorate the interior. The main ceiling was handsomely frescoed and above the stage in the center was an allegorical representation of music. In each corner were representations of each of the seasons. The wall was painted gray. On the bottom level of the addition was 6 dressing rooms complete with mirrors and makeup lamps. A hall also provides a convenient entrance to and from the hotel next door and back stage. Upon completion in December 1876 it was announced that the Masonic Opera House was one of the finest Theatres in the state. After the remodeling and with the completion of the Clough Opera House across town, theatre offerings were tremendous and varied drama, comedy, farce, minstrel shows and operas were presented.

In 1904 A. R. Wolf bought the Masonic Opera House from the Masons as they were building a new Temple on Main Street. Mr. Wolf remodeled the theatre and enlarged the stage. He replaced all the windows in the front of the building with stained glass windows. The Masonic Opera House continued under Wolf's managerial abilities until he sold it to the Meyers Brothers in 1915. They again made some improvements and repairs, and installed a movie screen and equipment. The Meyers Brothers changed the name to the Majestic Theatre. They occasionally had live theatre productions on the stage but finally switched exclusively to motion pictures.

In July 1971, Harley and Evelyn Bennett became the new owners of the Majestic Theatre. They did careful restoration with reference to the original wall painting. New seating was installed as was new front doors. The restrooms were remodeled and the lobby redone. The brick wall on the alley side was sand blasted and the old broken plastic squares on the front of the building were removed and a brick facing was installed. A new coat of paint and the refurbishing of the marquee, new roof and spouting all helped to preserve the old Masonic Opera House.

Three Chillicothe businessmen, Robert Althoff, Robert Evans, and David Uhrig, bought the theatre as a non-profit organization in 1990. All new wiring throughout the theatre, fire safety, and security systems were installed.

Fairs and festivals

Chillicothe, rich in Native American history, hosts the annual Feast of the Flowering Moon Festival. Started in 1984, the May festival draws crowds of approximately 85,000. Yoctangee Park, in the historic downtown, is the setting for this family-oriented, three-day event featuring Native American music, dancing, traders and exhibits, a mountain men encampment, rendezvous with working craftsmen and demonstrations, and an extensive arts and crafts show with more than 80 crafters and commercial exhibits. The main stage has a schedule of family-friendly entertainment, such as local school bands and performers. The streets are lined with food booths and games/contests. Events are free to the public.

On the Friday and Saturday after Labor Day in September, Chillicothe hosts the annual Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival. The festival features concert performances by several highly acclaimed and award-winning storytellers. Storytelling concerts are held throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday. Thousands of students participate during the day on Friday in various venues, including the Majestic Theatre, a tent at the Pump House Art Gallery in Yoctangee Parkmarker, and local school auditoriums.

The Fall Harvest Festival is held in Chillicothe's Yoctangee Park the first weekend in October. The festival has entertainment, crafts, flea market, and more. The festival was not held in 2008.

Chillicothe, OH hosts the annual Ross county fair. The fair features tons of family entertainment including, but not limited to, special events such as a Home & Garden Show, a Steer & Heifer Show and the Easy Riders Rodeo.

Athletic events

The Chillicothe Paints are a minor league baseball team that was established in February 1993. The team was previously a member of the Frontier League. Now a member of the the summer collegiate Prospect League, the Paints played in the independent Frontier League from the 1993 season until the end of the 2008 season. They were one of the original teams in the league. The Paints play their home games at V.A.marker Memorial Stadiummarker, which opened in 1954.

As the V.A. Memorial Stadium can be turned into a field for many uses, it also plays host to numerous sports events such as the M.A.C. Division baseball playoffs, OHSAA soccer playoffs, and OHSAA baseball playoffs.

In June, the streets of Chillicothe near Yoctangee Parkmarker are blocked off to accommodate temporary courts for the Gus Macker three-on-three basketball competition.

Notable natives

Artists and architects



  • Martha Finley, (1828 - 1909) author of the Elsie Dinsmore series

Business leaders


Ohio founders

  • Duncan McArthur, Ohio's 11th Governor
  • Edward Tiffin, dominant role in political development of Ohio Country and made Chillicothe the political center
  • Thomas Worthington, "Father of Ohio Statehood" and Ohio's 6th Governor. Worthington was born in Virginia but settled in Ohio early in his life and remained there. His estate in Chillicothe, called Adena, is open to the public.

Political figures

Sister city

Chillicothe is the sister city of Córdobamarker, Veracruzmarker, Mexicomarker. This relationship is honored through the Foreign Exchange Student Program with students at Chillicothe High School.

Cultural references

  • In the novel Laughing Gas by P.G. Wodehouse, Chillicothe is mentioned as the home of child star Joey Cooley.
  • In the Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout, Chillicothe is the hometown of Archie Goodwin.
  • The USS Chillicothe was named after Chillicothe, Ohio.
  • In The Harvey Girls (1946), the character of Alma played by Virginia O'Brien was from Chillicothe.
  • Chillicothe appeared prominently in a trilogy of popular and award-winning frontier novels by Conrad Richter: The Trees, The Fields, and The Town, which won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize. Known collectively as The Awakening Land series, the trilogy was the basis of a highly acclaimed 1978 NBC mini-series by the same name.
  • In Robert Heinlein's novella Methuselah's Children, the ship that Lazarus Long pilots is named "The Spirit of Chillicothe."
  • Chillicothe is mentioned in the Elvis Presley movies Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas.
  • Chillicothe was shown twice on the Daily Show's "Midwest Midterm Midtacular".
  • In the HBO hit series Deadwood, character Sol Star mentions having lived in Chillicothe.
  • Knockemstiffmarker by David Ray Pollock, is a collection of stories about a ghost town near Chillicothe.

See also


External links

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