XENIA — A state park that will honor the legacy of a Native American tribe that once dwelled in Ohio will be developed in Greene County.
The State of Ohio has agreed to buy about 0.7 acres of land currently occupied by the Tecumseh Motel on U.S. 68 north of Xenia from Vijay Patel. The state controlling board Monday approved the purchase, which will be for approximately $260,000.
The park will be anchored by an interpretive center.
“The goal is to really tell the story of the Shawnee tribe and specifically of Tecumseh,” Gov. Mike DeWine told the Gazette Monday. “This was a major village of theirs. It really was an opportunity for us for the first time in Ohio to really be able to tell the story of Tecumseh and the Shawnee Indians and also of the settlers. It’s a logical place to tell the story because of the significance of Old Town and the Shawnee major village being there.”
Old Town, formerly called Old Chillicothe, is widely believed to be the birthplace of Tecumseh in 1768 in addition to being a major Shawnee village.
“If you look, there’s a high ridge behind the motel, which is believed to be where the council house was,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which will run the park, has been working with the Ohio History Connection and the three sovereign and federally recognized Shawnee tribes: Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; the Shawnee Tribe; and the Absentee Shawnee to develop plans for the interpretive center.
According to ODNR Director Mary Mertz, the park will consist of parking, small outdoor areas, and the center, which will be around 2-3,000 square feet.
“Which I think will be perfect for that area for that property,” she said, adding that the long-term plan will be to to expand the park so visitors can walk around the area all the way to the Little Miami River.
Mertz said the sale should wrap up in early March and demolition of the hotel could begin later in the spring.
Once complete, DeWine — who grew up just a few miles up the road in Yellow Springs — thinks people from all over Ohio and the country will want to come and visit.
“I am very excited by this project,” he said. “This is something that I’ve wanted to do for many years. It’s been a dream of mine. It’s a story about the Native Americans, specifically the Shawnee. But it’s also a story about a number of settlers who people will certainly recognize.”
Among them are Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton.
“It’s a fascinating period of history and I think will be exciting for children and will be exciting for adults,” DeWine said.
The hope is that there will be interpretive programs aimed at school kids, especially those who attend Shawnee and Tecumseh elementary schools in Xenia, DeWine said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.