What is Adena Mansion and Gardens and why is it Significant?
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Adena Mansion and Gardens in Chillicothe, is the restored home of the sixth governor of Ohio, and United States Senator, Thomas Worthington.
Construction of the home began in 1806, using the plans that America’s first architect, Benjamin LaTrobe, had drawn. LaTrobe also served as the architect of the U.S. Capital Building in Washington D.C. The Adena Mansion is one of only three homes by LaTrobe that are still standing in America today.
While the estate was once comprised of over 2,000 acres, over the years it was whittled down to the remaining 300 acre property, which features the home, formal, terraced gardens, five outbuildings and a Visitors Center with museum.
An Overview of My Visit to Adena Mansion and Gardens
My husband and I happened to pass through Ohio’s first capital, Chillicothe, last spring on the very day that Adena Mansion and Gardens was hosting their annual Spring Awakening. With nothing but time on our hands, we decided to check it out. After all, we are fond of home tours.
Adena was nothing like I’d expected and though we spent nearly two hours at the property, we were unable to experience all that the grounds had to offer. For example, I didn’t even get to see the view across the Scioto River Valley to the Logan Range that inspired Ohio’s Great Seal! I know, unbelievable, right?
Our visit began in the Visitor’s Center which also houses the gift shop and museum and education center. From the warm welcome I received as I stepped inside the doors, I knew I was going to have a great visit. The staff and volunteers at Adena are passionate about sharing their interest in the past with each and every visitor to this historic location. You’re guaranteed to learn a little bit about of Ohio’s history without even trying.
While my husband breezed through the exhibits at record speed, the docent was kind enough to spend time with me as she pointed out some of the major highlights of the museum. She even managed to grab my husband’s attention a time or two.
The museum, was small, but impressive. Renovated in 2003, visitors are encouraged to learn about the Worthington Family and key figures in Ohio’s history through interactive exhibits and the display of important artifacts, like Tecumseh’s tomahawk peace pipe which he gave to Thomas Worthington. A short film is also offered in the Visitor’s Center and while I think it would offer a great overview of the site, once again, my husband wasn’t interested in watching it.
We then followed a short path to the home for a one hour guided tour. The home is in incredible condition and features many original furnishings. Once known as “one of the finest homes this side of the Allegheny Mountains”, Adena was built to entertain and hosted many important and influential people.
Adena has several unique features. As a contractor, my husband always notices quality construction. At Adena, he found a window feature particularly interesting. Two of the windows are actually “window doors”. While they look like regular windows, when you open a piece at the bottom, it transforms into a door. This allowed the family to take full advantage of the summer breeze, while stepping directly into the gardens.
You’ll also notice that pink is a popular color throughout Adena and no, it’s not because if was decorated by a woman. In the 19th century, the color of pink was known as a strong, masculine color, symbolic of the Christian faith.Thomas Worthington was a very religious man who led his family and household staff in devotions. Interestingly, the paint on much of the woodwork was created by using crushed cochineal beetles which gives it the red, or pink hue.
Benjamin LaTrobe was also heavily influenced by Thomas Jefferson, which you’ll discover throughout Adena. You’ll find he added several “revolving servers” or “turning buffets”, which you’ll also find if you visit Monticello.
I would love to revisit Adena during the summer months so I could explore the gardens and peek inside the outbuildings that are scattered around the property.
Adena Mansions is the perfect spot for a couple getaway, history lovers, as a day out with the family or for a homeschool field trip. You’ll learn a lot about the Northwest Territory, Indian Culture, the beginning of Ohio’s Statehood and life in the early 19th Century.
Adena Mansion and Gardens would also be a great Ohio historical site for those following the ultimate bucket list for those who want to explore Ohio.
Planning a Visit to Adena Mansion and Gardens
Hours of Operation:
Adena Mansion and Gardens is closed for the season from November to March.
April to October hours are:
Wednesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. Open July 4th 2012, Noon to 5pm.
Tour Schedules of the Adena Mansion:
One hour tours of the home are available during normal business hours.
Wednesday – Saturday tours are at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.
Sunday tours are at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.
Children 6-12……………………… $4.00
Children 5 & Under…………….. FREE
OHS and AMGS Members….. FREE
Adena Mansion & Gardens
847 Adena Road
Chillicothe, OH 45601
Have you been to Adena? What feature from the home or estate stood out the most to you?
© 2013, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.