The Ohio Statehouse is situated on a 10-acre parcel of land that was donated by John Kerr, Lyne Starling, John Johnston and Alexander McLaughlin, four prominent landholders in the Franklinton area on the west side of the Scioto River. The initial design was arrived at through a design competition. Construction actively began on July 4, 1839 with the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone. The structure would be completed much later, in 1861. Prison labor from the Ohio Penitentiary was used to construct the foundation and ground floors of the building. Objections from skilled tradesman, who felt they were losing out on good-paying jobs, brought about changes in hiring practices for the remainder of the construction.
The Statehouse is built in the Greek Revival style, a type of design based on the buildings of Ancient Greece and very popular in the U.S. during the early and mid-1800s. Because the city-states of Ancient Greece were the birthplace of democracy, the style had great meaning in the young American nation. Greek Revival was simple and straightforward and looked nothing like the Gothic Revival buildings popular in Europe during the same period. The broad horizontal mass of the Statehouse and the even and regular rows of columns resemble such buildings as the Parthenon in Athens. It is a masonry building, consisting largely of Columbus limestone. The limestone was taken from a quarry on the west banks of the Scioto River. The stone of the Statehouse foundation is more than 18 feet deep.
The Statehouse has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (1978). This honor recognizes the long history of the building and the continued role it will have in the life and lawmaking of the state of Ohio. During the restoration project in the early 1990s, original graffiti sketched by some of the Ohio Penitentiary prisoners was uncovered. One sketch is a profile of a man's face with the word "Badger" scrawled above it. By searching records at the Ohio Historical Society, the restoration team was able to locate information about Ephraim Badger, who was imprisoned from 1846-1849 for burglary. His record states that he was pardoned in 1849 "for service to the state."