Explore the museum and learn about Campus Martius, a civilian stockade built in 1788 as the first organized American settlement in the Northwest Territory. See the Ohio Company Land Office, reportedly the oldest building in Ohio, and the Rufus Putnam House, once part of the Campus Martius stockade. Exhibits trace the early settlement of Ohio, as well as later migrations of rural Ohioans to cities and industrial centers. Average visit time: Allow 1+ hours
In 1788, the Ohio Company sent an advance team of surveyors, carpenters, boat builders and other artisans to settle on the mouth of the Muskingum River. The settlers took immediate measures to provide for temporary shelter and security against the threat of American Indian attack. On a high bluff overlooking the Muskingum River, they constructed Campus Martius—a civilian fortification completed in stages between 1788 and 1791. Campus Martius is Latin for “Field of Mars” and was thought to evoke images of the military camp in which the legions of ancient Rome once trained. The fortification was described as the “handsomest pile of buildings west of the Allegheny Mountains.”
The museum was built by the State of Ohio in 1928 and the Putnam House, inside the museum, was restored in 1972. It stands on its original location as the only surviving dwelling of the Campus Martius fortification.
Campus Martius is managed locally by the Friends of the Museums.
In this traveling exhibit, see work by Lowell, Ohio traveling photographer Albert J. Ewing (1870-1934), featuring people and places along the Ohio River and in rural West Virginia from the 1890s to 1910s. Also on exhibit: dozens of Ewing's original glass-plate negatives.