The Premier Historical Museum & Research Center in Ohio's First Capital

Whether you are a life-long resident or visiting the Chillicothe area for the first time, a stop at the Ross County Heritage Center offers an excellent opportunity to understand how the community came to be and how it developed over two and a quarter centuries into what it is today. The Heritage Center connects the Ross County Historical Society's main museum and McKell Library creating one large facility with many stories to tell. From the lobby, you may tour exhibits focusing on the history of the Northwest Territory and founding of the state of Ohio; how and why Chillicothe became Ohio's first capital; the prehistoric cultures of the Scioto River Valley; Ross County’s involvement in the Civil War; Camp Sherman & World War I; historical toys & dolls; early Ohio decorative arts, folk art, fine art & portraiture; and historical vehicles & transportation. The tour includes the Knoles Log House, which features artifacts and décor that will help you visualize what life was like in early Ross County. From there you have the option to tour the Franklin House – our outstanding early 20th-century house museum designed by noted Ohio architect Frank Packard.

If historical research is your thing, explore the amazing holdings of the McKell Library – our research center and repository for thousands of rare books, journals, manuscripts, historical documents, and photographs.

Before leaving, we invite you to visit our gift shop where books, maps, and reproduction artifacts related to our museum collections may be purchased.

The Ross County Heritage Center is fully ADA accessible from the main entrance through all public areas including second floor exhibit galleries. Off-street parking for automobiles and buses is also ADA compliant and but a short distance from the front entrance.

Knoles Log House

The Knoles Log House was originally built during the early 1820s on a farm William Knoles purchased in 1828. The site is now occupied by the Pixelle Specialty Solutions paper manufacturing plant in the south end of Chillicothe. Disassembled and moved twice, the house was reconstructed on the grounds of the Ross County Heritage Center and opened to the public in 1992. The house recreates the atmosphere of everyday life in early Chillicothe and Ross County from roughly 1800 to 1830 and features historical furniture and household furnishings from the period. Tours begin at the Ross County Heritage Center (45 West Fifth Street) during regular operating hours.

Franklin House

The Franklin House, located at 80 South Paint Street in Chillicothe, was built in 1907 for Elizabeth, Charles, and Marianne Franklin -- the children of Mary and Gustavus Franklin. They were the sole owners of the home before Estelle McKell purchased it from their estate in 1972 and donated it to the Ross County Historical Society. The house was designed by noted early twentieth-century Ohio architect, Frank Packard, and exemplifies the stylistic ideals of the Arts & Crafts movement including many beautiful stained glass windows. Inside can be found exhibits of late nineteenth through mid twentieth-century home furnishings, decorative arts, clothing, coverlets, quilts, and other household and personal items -- many of which belonged to the Franklins. The original interior and exterior architectural details remain largely untouched from the time the house was built more than a century ago. Tours of the Franklin House begin at the Ross County Heritage Center (45 West Fifth Street) during regular operating hours.

Museum Hours

January - March:
By Appointment Only

April - December:
Tuesday - Saturday 

Closed on Major Holidays

Guided tours begin at the Ross County Heritage Center. 45 West Fith St. Chillicothe, Ohio 45601. FOr further information or to schedule group and school tours please call (740) 772-1936