Home News Demolition Equipment Now Sitting Behind Chillicothe’s “Fox Farm Inn”

Demolition Equipment Now Sitting Behind Chillicothe’s “Fox Farm Inn”

A diesel excavator is parked behind the "Fox Farm Inn" on North Bridge Street on April 6th, 2024.

Chillicothe — An effort to save the historic “Fox Farm Inn” on North Bridge Street from demolition appears to have been futile with the appearance of demolition equipment Friday. (In preservation battles such as this, demolitions are often done over a weekend to avoid any possible legal interference.)

Schiff Properties of Central Ohio obtained a demolition permit in February, as reported by the Chillicothe Gazette March 10th.

That article spurred a petition effort to convince the new owner to reconsider, led by the “Southern Ohio Preservation Consortium” and long-time local and national professional preservationist Franklin Conaway. He has said he has been in contact with Schiff, but with little response.

A popular postcard photo of the Fox Farm Inn probably dating to about 1960 that is floating around the internet.

The large Greek Revival brick house built in 1843 by Dr. Jonathan Miesse at what is now 1334 North Bridge Street is essentially the last and most significant home remaining in the commercial strip.

According to David Coyle, local avocational historian, and other sources:

  • In 1924 the “Scioto Valley Silver Fox Ranch” opened on the Miesse property. Foxes were raised there for hunting (Correction: for their fur pelts.).
  • In 1935, the Miesse residence became the “Fox Farm Inn,” the “epitome of rustic fine dining” in the Chillicothe area.
  • After 1952, Bridge Street was widened, taking up more of the front yard.
  • In about the 1970s, a mobile home park was developed behind the restaurant, partly on grounds formerly occupied by fox pens.
  • In 1993, the recently vacated Fox Farm Inn was acquired by longtime business E.M. Smith Jewelers. In 2020, E.M. Smith closed after 72 years (though a family member restarted the business elsewhere).
  • The Nourse auto dealership acquired the property in May 2020 and installed a used car lot there – as they have done at many locations, often before selling the properties within a few years. (It is said that E.M. Smith had Nourse promise to not tear down the house.)

The Ross County Auditor’s online data show that Nourse sold the 2.48 acres with the 2,046-square-foot building for $1,850,000 on March 7th (though the demolition permit dates to February.)

A Change.org online petition was started March 21st: “The citizens of Chillicothe, Ross County and Southern Ohio strongly oppose this demolition. We believe in preserving our past for future generations to learn from and appreciate. The Old Fox Farm Inn is not just a building; it is a symbol of our shared history and identity.”

Certainly, many photos and videos have been taken of the building while it has been endangered, and many posts are on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet.

A diesel excavator is parked behind the “Fox Farm Inn” on North Bridge Street on April 6th, 2024.