Volunteers at the 1810 house have had their hands full over the past few weeks, shaking off the winter dust and doing their spring cleaning for the 2017 season.
Tours are available each Sunday from 2-4 p.m., and by appointment until the first week of December. While there is no admission fee, the 1810 House accepts donations to maintain the home.
Located at 1926 Waller St., the home has been open for over 50 years and is registered on the National Register of Historical Places.
“The Aaron Kinney homestead is a treasure of local history run by a small band of volunteers dedicated to preserving our local history. We have a terrific group of volunteers but we always need more,” said 1810 House Director, Lindsey Kegley. “If you or anyone you know has an interest in history and would like to offer their expertise, we would love to hear from you. We need tour guides (training provided), gardeners, history researchers, cookie bakers, seamstresses, event planners, help with inventory, videographers, computer savvy people…. The list goes on. We appreciate all skills.”
After Aaron and Mary Kinney moved from Pennsylvania in 1797, they moved to Portsmouth and purchased the land for the house in 1804. A temporary cabin was built to house the couple and their four children until the completion of the main structure in 1810. Nine more children were born to the couple with the last child dying 2 weeks after her birth.
As the Kinney children grew up, they became active leaders in the Portsmouth community and six Kinney Homes were built in Portsmouth. With the exception of the 1810 House on Waller, all the Kinney homes are now privately owned.
The Kinney’s son Henry occupied the house and then Henry’s daughter, Isabel, resided in the house until her death in 1946.
“We have so many of the Kinney’s original items, we have Aaron Kinney’s baby cup from 1803, all the items in the house that have a star on them belonged to the Kinney family. Everything else we have on display has come through a donation from the community,” said director, Lindsey Kegley. “We have several items from Dr. Waller, we have a chair that belonged to Harriet Beecher Stowe, everything is authentic. We have rare items as well as items that just reflect the everyday life of the people of that time.”
Kegley says they are constantly adding new items and she hopes to reorganize the displays and create a rotation of displays.
The original structure had only 4 rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs. In 1812, additions were made but the most drastic renovations occurred in 1913 when the front door and windows were shifted towards the West, facing Waller Street. The tall porch columns were added to update the farmhouse, matching the other city homes that were being built.
After Isabel Kinney passed away, the Scioto County Historical Society purchased the house from All Saints Episcopal Church and it opened to the public in the 1970’s.
But in order to maintain the house and the items within, funds are needed.
“If we let these these things go, once it’s gone, it’s gone. It might be in a book somewhere but you can’t replace it. The fact that we actually have the house that’s that early is amazing. We have a lot of history here and we need to showcase what we have,” explained Kegley. “Portsmouth isn’t a horrible town. There’s some good left to it yet. I hope to rejuvenate the house and get more people interested. We have some building issues that we’re going to have to address. If we can’t fix it, we’re going to lose it.”
Kegley also said the historic homestead is accepting new memberships.
“We have much to do and plan for, especially with building maintenance. The house is showing its age and much needed repairs are looming,” said Kegley. “Know that all donations/memberships are greatly appreciated. We hope you will consider helping us maintain our local history for generations to come.”
Memberships levels are: $5 — individual, $10 — Family, $25 — Contributing, $50 — Patron, $250 — Lifetime Membership.
Groups, clubs or individuals can support by sending memberships to: The 1810 House, P.O. Box 1810, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.
For information on tours, volunteering, or financial support, please contact Lindsey Kegley at 740-353-2994 or Kegleylb@gmail.com.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.