For decades, the 1810 House has been offering a glimpse of the past through a historical collection of antiquities, local lore, and more at the former Kinney estate at 1926 Waller Street. They’ve been closed for the winter season, but have plans to reopen soon, and are calling out to the community for more volunteers.
“We currently have around six volunteers and a minimum of 12 would be nice,” volunteer Lindsey Kegley said. “Volunteering consists of having two hours once a month on a Sunday to give tours, of course it is often a little longer, because you get there early and stay a little later to lock up.”
Kegley also added that duties may include light housekeeping and maintenance and other general volunteer practices that keep the house up and running.
Additionally, if enough volunteers joined, the group could expand tours.
“We used to be able to offer tours on Saturday and Sunday. It would be nice to have that offering again, but it would require us having more volunteers stepping up to help,” Kegley said. “Until then, we are limited to Sundays only.
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 family member 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.
Kegley explained that volunteers for creative programming are also needed.
“We also need people who are creative and have community connections that can help with special projects that we can do, especially for people who enjoy history,” Kegley said. “Last year, we worked with the quilt guild for a showcase. This year, we’d love to do more, have musicians for a special event and stuff like that. I don’t have those connections, so we need people who do.”
The organization has a lot of progress to show off that is new to this season. Recently, they’ve replaced all of the 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.”
The season is set to open this June.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved