portsmouth-dailytimes.com

Muralist recaptures old railroad station

October 5, 2012

Portia Williams


PDT Staff Writer


With the strokes of his paint brushes, muralist Robert Dafford has recaptured the memory of what was known as Portsmouth’s Old Train Station. The Train Station mural project is Dafford’s latest project, and may be viewed by the public on the back side of the Scioto County Welcome Center building.


Commissioned by the Portsmouth Mural Committee, Muralist Robert Dafford, and his partner, Lillian Elston, have been working over a five-week period to complete first the Pat Borders mural and now the Norfolk and Western Railroad Station mural.


Dafford said continuous rainfall stifled his progress during this time here in Portsmouth. Elston has enjoyed her time working with Dafford.


“When I see him up there, and all of the work that has to be done, and then to experience it first hand, it is quite incredible,”Elston said. “This is the first time that I have assisted Robert in this magnitude. I am really excited about it.”


Elston said that it has given her a greater appreciation for Dafford’s artistry.


The N&W Train Station was built in 1931 and demolished in 2004. The station was positioned at 16th and Findlay Streets in Portsmouth. The building was officially vacated by the Signal & Communications Departments in November 2003 and the deeds, keys, were relinquished to the Scioto County Commissioners in early December, 2003.


Dafford said that he was able to design the mural by working with four photographs, which became a model for him to work from.


“We had a photographs of the original ticket window, a floorplan of the station, and photo of some ladies group serving refreshments to soldiers, and a partial view of the front entry way.”


Dafford said these items were an important part of designing a mural of the train station.


“The floorplan was really helpful in enabling me to imagine how to construct a point of view that could include things like the ticket booth, and the waiting room, the lobby, the benches, the big arc-decco windows, and the big arc-decco entry, and combine them into one scene,” Dafford said. “We couldn’t paint everything, so I made a combination view for the center, and that’s how I got it from these four photographs.”


According to Dafford, the photographs that he used were furnished by Carl Ackerman of the Southern Ohio Museum, and Jim Detty, who is a collector of railroad memorabilia.


Dafford said that his re-creation of the N&W Railroad Station did possess some slight differences from the original building.


“I took the long wooden benches that everyone talks about and switched them to the other corner. They were on the right hand corner and I recreated the left hand corner,” Dafford said.


Another slight difference from the original structure that Dafford integrated into his mural design was the opening of the train station windows.


“I left the windows open in my picture. They went all the way up as you can see those windows went all the way up to three floors,” Dafford said.


The Portsmouth Mural Committee has already scheduled Dafford to begin another mural project summer 2013.


“I will be painting a mural of the Carnegie Library on the other side of this building. No date is set as of yet, but it will be sometime next summer,” Dafford said.


Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 234 or portiawilliams@heartlandpublications.com