Ohio History Journal

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at the Campus Martius Museum


THE RUFUS PUTNAM house at the

Campus Martius Museum State Memorial

is the most outstanding architectural com-

bination of New England tradition and

frontier necessity preserved in Ohio today.

The house exemplifies as well the military

and domestic challenges which faced the

pioneers who established Marietta, the first

authorized United States settlement in the

Old Northwest.

It was natural that New Englanders

would transport modes of construction fa-

miliar to them into the trans-Allegheny

region. Men of substance in New England

had lived in frame houses for a cen-

tury and a half. Carpenters, joiners, and

masons, among other craftsmen, were most

familiar with this type of construction,

which had been common in England since

the Middle Ages.

On their way to the future site of Mari-

etta the first forty-eight pioneers saw

many dwellings of round and hewn logs on

both sides of the mountains. During their

journey they undoubtedly were sheltered

many a night in these snug and practical

log buildings which Scandinavian, Ger-

man, and Scotch-Irish immigrants from

Europe's forested regions had found

adaptable to America. Indeed, several

cabins and the Ohio Company of Associ-

ates land office were built of logs at Mari-

etta soon after the landing had been made

on April 7, 1788. But to most New Eng-

landers, log buildings were mean--more

appropriate for squatters than squires. For

a man of Rufus Putnam's position, former

general and now superintendent of the

Ohio Company, only a frame house would


The fear of Indian attack was the most

immediate influence upon New England

architecture in the Ohio Country. Fort

Harmar across the Muskingum River from

the new settlement could afford little pro-

tection to settlers on the opposite shore in

the event of a sneak attack. An early de-

cision was forced upon the Ohio Company

directors. Led by Putnam, they informally

devised a plan for a kind of fortified vil-

lage, which would be built on a bluff above

the Muskingum River, three-quarters of a