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Xenia, Ohio
Downtown Xenia
Downtown Xenia
Nickname(s): 
"City of Hospitality", "Bicycle Capital of the Midwest"
Motto(s): 
"Vivid History, Vibrant Future"
Location of Xenia, Ohio
Location of Xenia, Ohio
Country United States
State Ohio
County Greene
Founded 1803; 219 years ago (1803)
Area
 • Total 13.03 sq mi (33.74 km2)
 • Land 13.02 sq mi (33.71 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation
935 ft (285 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 25,719
 • Estimate 
(2019)
26,947
 • Density 2,070.30/sq mi (799.35/km2)
 • Demonym
Xenian
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
45385
Area code(s) 937, 326
FIPS code 39-86772
GNIS feature ID 1061805
Website https://www.ci.xenia.oh.us/

Xenia ( zee-NEE) is a city in southwestern Ohio and the county seat of Greene County, Ohio, United States. It is 15 miles (24 km) east of Dayton and is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the Miami Valley region. The name comes from the Greek word Xenia (ξενία), which means "hospitality".

As of the United States Census 2020, the city had a population of 25,441. As of the United States Census 2010, Xenia is the third-largest city by population in Greene County, behind Fairborn and Beavercreek. At the geographical center of the county, it is the county seat and houses the County Courthouse, County Sheriff's Department, Jail, and other regional departments.

History

Xenia was founded in 1803, the year Ohio was admitted into the Union. In that year, pioneer John Paul bought 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of land from Thomas and Elizabeth Richardson of Hanover County, Virginia, for "1050 pounds current moneys of Virginia." Paul influenced county commissioners to locate the county seat on this land at the forks of the Shawnee Creeks.

Joseph C. Vance was named to survey the site and lay out the town. The following year, he bought the town site of 257 acres (1.04 km2) from John Paul for $250. The name of the new village was chosen in typically democratic fashion. Vance called a town meeting to discuss possible names. The committee had considered several suggestions without reaching any decision. Then the Rev. Robert Armstrong proposed the name "Xenia," meaning "hospitality" in Greek, because of the fine hospitality extended to him in this friendly community. When a tie vote occurred, Laticia Davis, wife of Owen Davis, was invited to cast the deciding ballot. She voted for "Xenia."

The first session of the Ohio General Assembly created Greene County from the Northwest Territory, embracing the homeland of the Shawnee Indians. Their chief tribal village was north of Xenia at Old Chillicothe, now called Old Town. The Shawnee war chief Tecumseh was born there in 1768.

William Beattie was Xenia's first businessman. In 1804, he opened a tavern which became a center of community affairs. In 1804, John Marshall built Xenia's first home. The first log school house was constructed in 1805, and, that same year, the Rev. James Towler became the town's first postmaster. The growing community soon attracted many pioneer industries - flour mills, sawmills, woolen mills, pork packing plants, oil mills, and tow mills.

Xenia was incorporated by an act of the legislature in 1817 and became a city in 1834. However, it was the arrival of the Little Miami Railroad (now the site of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which passes through Xenia Station) in 1843 which gave the city its first industrial impetus. On March 2, 1850 the Ohio General Assembly rode from Columbus, Ohio to Xenia and back on the newly completed Columbus and Xenia Railroad.

President-Elect Abraham Lincoln made a brief appearance in the city as his inaugural train traveled from Cincinnati to Columbus on Wednesday morning, February 13, 1861. He gave a short speech which was not recorded by a traveling writer from the New York Times as it echoed the same sentiments that he had expressed before in his previous stops. According to the Times writer, "a very large crowd assembled, and amid the firing of a cannon and enthusiasm, Mr. Lincoln addressed them from the rear car, reiterating what he had said before.".

The town progressed rapidly during the mid-19th century. Artificial gas was provided in the 1840s and continued in use until natural gas was made available in 1905. The first fire engine house was built in 1831; the telephone came to Xenia in 1879; electricity in 1881 and a water works system in 1886. Xenia opened its first free public library in 1899. By 1900 the city was operating its own sewage system.

Xenia elected Cornelius Clark as its first mayor in 1834. On January 1, 1918, the current commission-manager plan succeeded the old form of municipal government.

Tornadoes

Xenia has a history of severe storm activity. According to local legend, the Shawnee Indians referred to the area as "the place of the devil wind" or "the land of the crazy winds" (depending upon the translation). Records of storms go back to the early 19th century. Local records show 20 tornadoes in Greene County since 1884.

Xenia74
Xenia tornado on April 3, 1974

On April 3, 1974 a tornado rated F5 on the Fujita scale cut a path directly through the middle of Xenia during the 1974 Super Outbreak, the second largest series of tornadoes in recorded history. The disaster killed 34 people (including two Ohio National Guardsmen who died days later in a related fire), injured an additional 1,150, destroyed almost half of the city's buildings, and left 10,000 people homeless. Five schools, including Xenia High School, Central Junior High School, McKinley Elementary, Simon Kenton Elementary, and Saint Brigid Catholic School were destroyed, as were nine churches and 180 businesses.

The city's plight was featured in the national news, including a 1974 NBC television documentary, Tornado!, hosted by Floyd Kalber. President Richard Nixon visited stricken areas of Xenia following the devastation. Comedian Bob Hope organized a benefit for Xenia and, in appreciation, the new Xenia High School Auditorium was named the "Bob Hope Auditorium." In recognition of their coverage of this tornado, the staff of the Xenia Daily Gazette won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Reporting in 1975.

Xenia was struck by an F2 tornado on April 25, 1989 and again by an F4 tornado on September 20, 2000. The 1989 tornado caused over $2 million in damage, but no one was killed. The twister of 2000 killed one person, and injured 100 people. This tornado followed a path roughly parallel to the 1974 tornado.

Xenia currently has a system of tornado sirens. After the 1974 tornado outbreak, the city purchased a system of Federal Signal Thunderbolt Sirens for warning. During the 2000 tornado strike, the lack of backup power silenced the sirens, so the city purchased Federal Signal 2001-SRN series sirens with battery backup. Most of Xenia's old sirens are still standing, but not operational.

Xenia Tornado Marker
Historical Marker: Xenia Tornado April 3, 1974

Railroads

Xenia originally hosted several lines owned by the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) and Pennsylvania (PRR) railroads. All lines have since been abandoned, the last being dismantled by 1989.

The lines that previously served Xenia were:

  • B&O Wellston subdivision, between Washington Court House and Dayton.
  • PRR Little Miami branch, between Cincinnati and Springfield; portion of the line ran down Detroit Street and was the first section to be dismantled.
  • PRR Pittsburgh-St. Louis mainline; Amtrak operated the National Limited over this line until 1979.

The roadbeds of five of Xenia's six rail lines were converted for rail trail use. The one exception — the B&O line west of town — was not converted because it closely paralleled the PRR mainline for most if its length. The large number of rail trails resulted in Xenia being referred to as the Bicycle Capital of the Midwest.

Xenia was also served by two interurban railways until the 1940s:

  • Dayton & Xenia Transit Company
  • Springfield & Xenia Railway

Geography

Xenia is centrally located in the "transportation triangle" formed by three major interstate highways: I-70, I-71, and I-75. These north-south, east-west arteries are within minutes of Xenia via U.S. Routes 35, 42, and 68, tying the community to one of the nation's largest 90-minute highway markets. Before the creation of the U.S. Interstate Highway system, U.S. 68 was one of the main southward routes from Detroit, Michigan. Within Xenia, U.S. 68 is named "Detroit Street".

Xenia is at 39°41′1″N 83°56′17″W / 39.68361°N 83.93806°W / 39.68361; -83.93806 (39.68, -83.94).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.29 square miles (34.42 km2), of which, 13.28 square miles (34.40 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.

Climate

Climate data for Xenia, Ohio
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
(22.8)
74
(23.3)
83
(28.3)
89
(31.7)
95
(35)
102
(38.9)
108
(42.2)
107
(41.7)
103
(39.4)
92
(33.3)
80
(26.7)
74
(23.3)
108
(42.2)
Average high °F (°C) 36
(2.2)
41
(5)
51
(10.6)
63
(17.2)
72
(22.2)
80
(26.7)
84
(28.9)
82
(27.8)
76
(24.4)
65
(18.3)
52
(11.1)
41
(5)
61.9
(16.62)
Average low °F (°C) 19
(-7.2)
23
(-5)
32
(0)
41
(5)
51
(10.6)
59
(15)
63
(17.2)
60
(15.6)
53
(11.7)
42
(5.6)
34
(1.1)
25
(-3.9)
41.8
(5.46)
Record low °F (°C) −28
(-33.3)
−20
(-28.9)
−5
(-20.6)
14
(-10)
25
(-3.9)
37
(2.8)
42
(5.6)
38
(3.3)
25
(-3.9)
16
(-8.9)
−8
(-22.2)
−24
(-31.1)
−28
(-33.3)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.64
(67.1)
2.28
(57.9)
3.15
(80)
3.90
(99.1)
4.57
(116.1)
4.02
(102.1)
4.13
(104.9)
3.62
(91.9)
2.72
(69.1)
2.83
(71.9)
3.27
(83.1)
2.99
(75.9)
39.58
(1,005.3)
Source: NOAA, The Weather Channel (extremes), HKO (sun only)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 429
1820 799 86.2%
1830 917 14.8%
1840 1,913 108.6%
1850 3,024 58.1%
1860 4,658 54.0%
1870 6,377 36.9%
1880 7,026 10.2%
1890 7,301 3.9%
1900 8,696 19.1%
1910 8,706 0.1%
1920 9,110 4.6%
1930 10,507 15.3%
1940 10,633 1.2%
1950 12,877 21.1%
1960 20,445 58.8%
1970 25,373 24.1%
1980 24,712 −2.6%
1990 24,664 −0.2%
2000 24,164 −2.0%
2010 25,719 6.4%
2019 (est.) 26,947 4.8%
Sources:

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 25,719 people, 10,390 households, and 6,631 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,936.7 inhabitants per square mile (747.8/km2). There were 11,424 housing units at an average density of 860.2 per square mile (332.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.0% White, 13.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 10,390 households, of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.2% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.98.

The median age in the city was 37.1 years. 24.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.9% were from 45 to 64; and 15.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.2% male and 52.8% female.

Popular culture

Film

  • The town is featured in the nonprofit historical documentary film Ropewalk: A Cordage Engineer's Journey Through History
  • The town was the setting of the independent film Who's Your Daddy?, directed by Andy Fickman
  • Xenia is the setting for Harmony Korine's film Gummo (1997); the movie was not filmed in Xenia, however, but in Korine's hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

Literature

  • Tom Clancy mentions the town in his Jack Ryan novel The Bear And The Dragon (2000)
  • Stephen King mentions the town in his novel The Stand (1978, rereleased in 1990), in which it is the hometown of character Dayna Jurgens, and another novel, The Talisman (1984).
  • Novelist Helen Hooven Santmyer lived here; her best-known work, "...And Ladies of the Club", is set in a fictional version of Xenia

Music

  • Maynard James Keenan mentions Xenia at least twice with his band Puscifer, first in "Sour Grapes (Where is the Line Mix)", and again in a fictional documentary played before shows on their 2011 tour. The Puscifer Characters Billy Dee Burger and Hildy Burger are credited as being from Xenia.
  • They Might Be Giants mention Xenia in the song "Out of Jail" on their album John Henry (1994).

Trivia

  • Xenia is the only city in the United States starting with the letter "X", with a population over 5,000.
  • Xenia calls itself the "Bicycle Capital of the Midwest".

Television

  • Brooke Soso, a character on Orange Is the New Black, mentions WWOOFing in the town during the second-season episode, "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"

Economy

Xenia has, or once had, the following industries:

  • Hooven and Allison rope factory (1870-2003)
  • Xenia Shoe Manufacturing
  • Xenia Ironcasting Foundry (founded 1920)
  • Bob Evans Restaurants meat packing plant
  • Xenia Workhouse
  • Kroehler Furniture factory (destroyed 1974)
  • McDonald Farm Stone Quarry - stone used to represent Ohio in the Washington Monument
  • Dodds Monuments - grave and memorial sculptors (founded 1864)
  • Eavey Grocers (1865-1970)

Education

The Xenia Community School District has 1 preschool, 5 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 high school:

  • Xenia Preschool (formerly Central Middle School) (Grade PreK)
  • Cox Elementary School (Grade K-5)
  • McKinley Elementary School (Grade K-5)
  • Arrowood Elementary (Grade K-5)
  • Shawnee Elementary (Grade K-5)
  • Tecumseh Elementary (Grade K-5)
  • Warner Middle School (Grade 6–8)
  • Xenia High School (Grade 9–12)
  • Spring Hill Elementary (as of 2012 defunct)

Private schools in Xenia:

  • Legacy Christian Academy (Grade Pre-K-12)
  • St. Brigid School (Grade Pre-K-8)

Xenia has the main branch library and administrative offices of the Greene County Public Library.

Notable people

  • Doug Adair, television news anchor and journalist
  • Doug Adams, NFL player
  • Steve Austria, U.S. Congressman
  • Elizabeth Gowdy Baker, painter
  • Una Mae Carlisle, jazz musician
  • Dave Chappelle, comedian
  • Dean Chenoweth, hydroplane and auto racer in Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
  • John Barry Clemens, NBA player
  • Trent Cole, NFL defensive end
  • Lloyd Gearhart, MLB player and scout
  • Charley Grapewin, actor
  • Caitlin Halligan, lawyer and nominee for federal judge
  • Chris Hero, pro wrestler for WWE and NXT
  • Roger Huston, harness race caller
  • Coates Kinney, lawyer, journalist, and poet
  • John Little, U.S. Congressman
  • Roger McMurrin, conductor
  • Rose Murphy, jazz singer
  • Larry D. Nichols, puzzle enthusiast and inventor of Pocket Cube
  • Aftab Pureval, Mayor of Cincinnati
  • Helen Hooven Santmyer, novelist
  • Obiwu, poet and author
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., historian
  • Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief during the War of 1812
  • Thomas Taggart, Mayor of Indianapolis and U.S. Senator from Indiana
  • Ridgely Torrence, poet
  • Sarah A. Worden (1855-1918), painter, art instructor

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