Historic Districts

Preserving the integrity and character of our historic downtown is an important part of what we do at Main Street Chillicothe. Our community is fortunate enough to have not one, but two primary historic districts, the Courthouse Square Historic District and the Commercial Historic District. They date back to when the original town of Chillicothe was laid out in 1837, and much of the original architecture exists today.

Generally, development in Chillicothe falls into one of five eras:

  • Early Settlement: 1837 – 1851
  • The Railroad Era: 1852 – 1882
  • The Victorian Era: 1883 – 1900
  • The Highway City: 1901 – 1952
  • Modern Age: 1953 - present

Primarily a trading post with a small public square and log courthouse, little development took place before Chillicothe officially became the Livingston County seat in 1839. When it got a stop on the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad in 1852, the town began to boom. While no buildings from the Railroad Era are around today, Chillicothe did have more than 25 stores serving more than 1,000 residents.

After the Civil War, the town saw another period of growth. During the Victorian Era, more than half of the buildings in the Courthouse Square Historic District were built, and construction spread beyond the square into a new commercial district. That area flourished with the advent of automobiles, filling in nearly 80 percent of the buildings that sit in the Commercial Historic District today.

We are fortunate that much of the original brickwork and ornate Victorian embellishments survive today. Now, our work is to preserve these buildings that add a unique character and beauty to our town.

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