SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Salem will recognize its rich history with a new town center, and on Thursday, the project got underway.

A groundbreaking took place for the Lincoln Plaza project.

“This will truly be the heart of Salem,” said Ohio Sen. Michael Rulli, R-33.

The Lincoln Plaza layout will have a historical look, including brick walkways. It’s also going to have a gazebo and fountain.

“It will be a great attractive piece here in the center of our town, and we can use this for all kinds of gatherings,” said Mayor Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey.

The mayor envisions people using Lincoln Plaza for weddings, pep rallies and even holiday celebrations.

A developer tried to sell the property for commercial use but found no interest, and sold it back to the city. Citizens helped put the plans together.

“We had people from all walks, not just city government but residents who had never been involved in city government before were part of that plan,” said Baronzzi Dickey.

Now, the plaza is ready for construction. It will even have a statue of Abraham Lincoln, recognizing the city’s history in the abolitionist movement.

Some of the state lawmakers who helped with the $700,000 in state funds for the park have been to Salem and even stayed at the Spread Eagle Tavern.

“Its claim to fame is that Lincoln liked to stay there because it was on the Lincoln Highway, so what better way when we did our town center to bring a statue of Abraham Lincoln here to symbolize how proud we are with our area?” Rulli said.

Plans also include a veterans memorial in the plaza. That will be in the second phase of the project.

Kyle Willis contributed to this report.