Adena Mansion & Gardens847 Adena Road
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
800-319-7248 | www.adenamansion.org
At Home with the Father of Statehood
Adena, Thomas Worthington’s estate in Chillicothe, showcases the life and work of the Worthington family, as well as the political career of the Father of Ohio Statehood. Designed by Benjamin Latrobe, it is only one of three Latrobe houses still in existence.
Adena was the 2000-acre estate of Thomas Worthington (1773-1827), sixth governor of Ohio and one of the state's first United States Senators. The house, its formal gardens, and five outbuildings sit on 300 of the original acres. Completed in 1807, the house has been restored to look as it did when the Worthingtons occupied it, and displays some of the original furnishings and period-appropriate replicas.
During the 2003 Ohio Bicentennial, the Ohio History Connection undertook further restoration. A visitor center was added and includes exhibits on early settlement in Ohio, indentured servants, and archaeological finds from recent excavations on the property. An overseer’s house was restored and demonstrates German migration to the region. In season, the terraced gardens are planted with herbs, heirloom vegetables, ornamentals, and fruit trees. Hands-on activities for all ages engage visitors in the activities the Worthington family undertook to make the estate self-sufficient. Designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the second architect of the US Capitol, Adena is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Thomas Worthington was born in Berkeley County, Virginia. He moved to Ross County in 1796 after assisting Duncan McArthur in land surveys of the Virginia Military District. A devout Methodist, Worthington freed his slaves before moving to Ohio. In addition to building his plantation, Worthington served in the Territorial House of Representatives beginning in 1799. While representing the territory, he enthusiastically lobbied for statehood and in 1802 was appointed to serve as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention. When statehood was achieved, Worthington became one of the first two senators to represent Ohio in the nation’s capitol. He served two terms as Ohio’s sixth governor. While he was busy with political matters, his wife Eleanor Swearingen Worthington managed the mansion and farm at Adena.
In 1798, newly married, Thomas and Eleanor traveled from Berkeley County, arriving in Chillicothe in April. While deciding where to build their home, they lived in the small village. Both inherited considerable wealth and an early biographer wrote “They brought with them plate, china, damask, and other evidences of their wealth; bulbs, roots, flower seeds, shrubs, and domestic animals and were accompanied by a large company of freedmen whom Worthington settled on parts of his land.” Another biographer suggests that it was Eleanor who chose the location of the Adena house, while Thomas was away on state business.
The house was designed by Benjamin Latrobe, who designed many government buildings and homes in Washington, DC. Many of Worthington’s formerly enslaved persons helped build Adena. The plantation-style estate was meant to be self-sufficient and included extensive gardens, farm buildings and mills for grain and lumber flax. With their ten children and indentured servants, the Worthingtons worked the land and entertained dignitaries and troops at their home. A stunning example of neoclassical architecture, Adena is one of only three of the many houses designed by Latrobe still in existence.
Notes for Travelers
Docents at Adena conduct daily tours; the last one starts at 3:30 p.m. The Adena Mansion and Garden Society holds an annual plant sale; check the website for dates and times.
Additional ResourcesFrontier Republic: Ideology and Politics in the Ohio Country, 1780-1825, Andrew R.L. Cayton, 1986.
Thomas Worthington: Father of Ohio Statehood, Alfred Byron Sears, 1958.