Monday, June 13, 2011

Adena Mansion and Slate Run Farm

My wife and I took a day trip last Friday to see Thomas Worthington's Adena estate, as well as Slate Run, a c. 1880s farm run by Columbus Metroparks. I'll post an update about Slate Run Farm soon.

For those of you who are not up on Ohio history, Worthington was not only a prominent Ohio politico in its formative years, serving as Senator from 1803 to 1807 and again in 1810-14 as well as the 6th Governor from 1814 to 1818. He was scion of a Virginia planter family, who married into some money and moved his family to the free state of Ohio (manumitting his slaves in the process). Worthington made his fortune investing in land in Ohio, alongside such other real estate moguls as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Duncan McArthur (another Ohio kingpin who later became governor). Adena was the seat of a vast empire of tenant farmers along the Paint River near Chillicothe. Like the Tidewater plantations, it was a world onto itself, producing agricultural products which were shipped on flatboats down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. From the world market (overland from Philadelphia, I suspect, rather than being poled upriver from the Gulf) came elegant manufactured goods and luxuries such as tea, coffee, opium, and Madeira.

Luminaries of the West, such as Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison came to stay here. Henry Clay was here so often that he has a room named after him.

Today one can get a good sense of what the estate must have been like by visiting the mansion and its reconstructed outbuildings. You can get more info about the site hours, special events, and admission prices here.

The front of the mansion, designed by Benjamin Latrobe.

A view of the summer kitchen.

The detached kitchen buildings. The house was considered ultra-modern in that it had a kitchen inside the house as well.

The Spring House, in a small gully near the house.

The fresh, cool waters of the spring kept dairy goods cold during the summer.

A Conestoga Wagon. Contrary to what most people think, this type of wagon was used pretty exclusively in the East, hauling freight across the Appalachian Divide. The  "Prairie Schooners" of the Far West were smaller, square-built wagons.

Worthington's vast barn on an earlier visit. When we came, the upper levels were blocked off, but the lower stables held sheep and a curious barnyard cat.

A tenant house, reconstructed. Pretty fancy for an era when many people still lived in log-hewn cabins.

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