For decades, the 1810 House has been offering a glimpse at the past through a historical collection of antiquities, local lore, and more at the former Kinney estate at 1926 Waller Street.
The organization has had a busy season and is looking ahead at winter maintenance and closing its doors for the year after their annual Christmas Open House, which is slated for December 4 and 11, between 1 and 3 p.m.
“Everything will be decorated close to period as we can,” 1810 representative Lindsey Kegley said. “Everything in that house is donated by people within the community. We will be showcasing early toys, kitchen implements making Christmas cookies, and more. We will also have refreshments and, possibly, chamber music. It is a chance to see the house in a new light.”
Kegley explained that there will be additional tour guides onsite and each room will have a host to welcome guests and tell stories about the Kinney family and the timely artifacts that have been donated.
The museum lies within the former Aaron Kinney homestead, who was a major developing force behind Portsmouth’s founding.
According to the 1810 House website, “The twelve Kinney children all grew to adulthood and became outstanding citizens and leaders in the Portsmouth Community. They were active in local government, banking, river transportation and business. The Kinney’s were prominent in establishing All Saints Episcopal Church.
“The Aaron and Mary homestead (now the 1810 House and Museum) is a major focal point of historic preservation. Three generations of the Kinney family occupied the house: Aaron and Mary, their son Henry, and Henry’s daughter Isabel, who resided there until her death in 1946 at the age of 88.
“The Kinney legacy still exists today. There are six Kinney Homes remaining in Portsmouth: The 1810 House on Waller; Eli’s home on Court St. (the former Elk’s Club); the Peter Kinney Home on Front Street; Margaret Kinney Hall home on Second Street; Nancy Kinney Walker house is South Shore, Kentucky: and lastly, another home built by Peter Kinney after his return from a trip abroad in 1867. This home was located on Mt. Tabor above Kinney’s Lane across from Greenlawn Cemetery. All homes, with the exception of the 1810 house, are now privately owned.
“The 1810 House, the original Kinney homestead, is an outstanding example of pioneer history in Portsmouth and is one of only a few such examples now remaining.”
The collection of the 1810 House doesn’t go past the 1946 date in which a Kinney resided, but primarily focuses on pioneer times.
With such a respectable collection, the board rotates pieces to keep the museum fresh and alive.
“We do rotations with some of the exhibits, so nobody can say ‘I’ve already been there and seen that,’” Kegley said. “We are trying to make it so people want to come back and make return visits.”
Some of the work being done recently is programming development designed to bring more people out, outside of their regularly scheduled hours.
Recently, Kegley explained that the group held a quilt show onsite.
“We brought all of our quilts out and we welcomed Down by the River Quilt Guild, so they brought some of their quilts as well. That was interesting and we had guests turn out for that,” Kegley explained. “I think we are looking at doing additional things like this next year to draw out additional crowds.”
The organization has a lot to show off that is new to this season. They’ve replaced all gutters, they’ve replastered the interior walls, repainted, and worked on structural improvements.
While they’ve done a lot, the group continues to work on the preservation and development of the property. According to Kegley, the long term need now lies in new flashing around the chimney and brickwork on the western wall. Additionally, the immediate winter projects will consist of new electrical panels and landscaping.
“Everything we get from memberships goes to keeping the lights on and bills paid, lawn maintenance, and everything we need to stay open,” Kegley said. “When it comes to these additional care items, we have to find generous supporters or grant dollars. Sometimes, it can be tough.
Anyone interested in a membership or in supporting their ongoing work, can donate to the 1810 House by mailing a check to p.o. box 1810.
“We want to save the history for our community,” Kegley said. “Everything gets torn down and we’re just trying to keep this thing up. There is so much local history and if we don’t teach it to our community and children then, well, I just don’t know. It gives you a sense of place and importance and it is worth keeping alive. We can’t forget where we came from.”
Once the season closes, the local historical hotspot will reopen in June.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved