If you’ve lived in the Portsmouth area long enough, you’re probably familiar with the murals along the flood wall, but for some, their origins are still a mystery. For the next several weeks, the Daily Times will be presenting a series of stories about specific murals and their role in the community.
Spanning over 2,000 feet, the murals in Portsmouth have become a popular attraction for visitors and tourists. Progress on the murals continues to be made, with new additions and touch-ups being added frequently.
Located along Front Street, these murals portray the history of Portsmouth from the mound building Indians to the present day, and use a 20-foot high, 2,000 foot-long flood wall as a canvas. The project runs the length of the historic district and includes over 55 different scenes.
In 1992, the planning stages of the Flood wall Mural Project began with the formation of an ad hoc committee, which later registered as a nonprofit organization – Portsmouth Murals, Inc. (PMI). Robert Dafford, an internationally known muralist from Lafayette, Louisiana, was contracted for the project.
The first mural was completed in 1993. The murals are arranged chronologically from east to west, starting with the depiction of the Mound Builders. The series of murals serve as a visual history of the Portsmouth area.
Last week, the Daily Times touched on the history of the Alexandria Village mural, depicting life in the late 1700s and the region settled by pioneers who came down the Ohio River in flat boats. Alexandria, was located in the bottom land, west of the old mouth of the Scioto River, near Carey’s Run in West Portsmouth.
This week, the Daily Times will focus on the Alexandria flooding and the Stone House. There is only one house remaining from the Alexandria era, the Philip Moore Jr. Stone House. In the mural, the house is shown standing despite a raging storm. Today, the house stands on Route 239 in West Portsmouth. The house has been restored to its original appearance. In addition, the house is furnished with period pieces, making the experience as authentic as possible.
The was built between 1797 and 1803, and is named after soldier, Philip Moore who came down the Ohio River on a flatboat with his wife, Jemima, and children, Philip, Levi, John and Elinor. Moore and his family landed at Old Alexandria where he built the house and lived there with his family.
The house was purchased in 1973, by Dr. Louis Chaboudy, who was also the first President of Portsmouth Murals Inc. When Chaboudy was approached about the house being featured on the flood wall, he was apprehensive stating that it was a conflict of interest. Chaboudy agreed to have the house featured in the mural later on, as long as their was no mention of the name of the house and the owner.
After purchasing the house,Chaboudy began a complete restoration inside and out to return it to its original condition. The Philip Moore, Jr. Stone House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It was purchased in 2003 by Steve Hayes.
“It’s a Pennsylvania Stone House, it’s pretty rare to find one in this area,” said Hayes. “They’re usually found in Virginia and more so towards the east coast. Dr. Chaboudy bought the house, and did a majority of the restoration. They did a lot of fundraising and they built a modern addition adjacent to the original house to be used as a meeting room.”
The house is available for rental for weddings, meetings and family functions. Private tours can also be arranged. For more information you can go online to www.portsmouthstonehouse.com
For an audio tour of the murals, you can dial 740-621-8031. After the introduction, each mural is a “stop.”
If you’d like to see the murals for yourself, follow the green mural signs posted in the city on Washington Street (Rt. 23 South) leading to the murals on Front Street.
Portsmouth Mural Inc., is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organizations. If you wish to contribute to the project, you can do so by mailing contributions to Portsmouth Murals Inc. at P.O. Box 207, Portsmouth, Ohio, 45662.
For more information about the murals, you can visit the Scioto County Visitors Bureau at 342 Second Street in Portsmouth.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.