(XENIA, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz today broke ground on Ohio’s 76th state park.
Great Council State Park, just north of Xenia, will be a connection to Ohio’s Native American and pioneer past. The area was once home to Oldtown, one of the largest-known Shawnee settlements in Ohio. More than 1,000 people called Oldtown home from approximately 1777 to 1780. Their stories directly intersect with that of historic settlers like Daniel Boone, who was held captive in Oldtown for a period of time.
“This is an exciting step toward preserving an important piece of Ohio’s history,” said Governor DeWine. “This project gives us the unique opportunity to connect future generations with the past, while protecting the legacy of the Shawnee and inviting them to share their story.”
Great Council State Park will feature a 12,000-square-foot interpretive center with an architectural design based on the traditional council house form that was historically used by the Shawnee tribes. Inside, visitors will find three floors of exhibits, a theater area, a living stream, and a gallery. All these displays will honor the Shawnee tribes of the past and allow present-day members to share their stories and legacy.
“This new center will be an educational tool that can take visitors into the past and inspire an appreciation for another time,” Director Mertz said. “We hope to see families, school groups, scouts, and all people use this space to learn more about the tribes who used to call this part of Ohio home.”
ODNR is working with the three federally-recognized Shawnee Tribes to develop the property. The facility is expected to open in 2023.