National Church Residences, which purchased the Riverview Retirement Center in 2013 from the Southern Ohio Medical Center, on Wednesday held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to mark what the nonprofit organization said was a $10 million restoration of its two buildings in Boneyfiddle.
Those two structures, the Biggs House and Washington House, once both served as hotels largely hosting persons traveling on the Ohio River. The former hotels are now home to 106 senior citizen housing units.
The ribbon-cutting celebration included numerous local officials such as Ohio State Sen. Joe Uecker, R-14, and Portsmouth City Councilman Sean Dunne along with a representative of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
The former hotels first were converted into what has been advertised as high quality, affordable apartments by SOMC in the late 1970s. SOMC owned and operated the property for 35 years.
“We’ll always be grateful to (SOMC) for their vision to build sustainable, affordable housing to serve this region,” said Mark Ricketts, president and CEO of National Church Residences. “Their efforts and our partnership today, allow us both to continue this mission and expand our services to more seniors in Scioto County.”
In a press release, National Church Residences said the recent restoration project updated the aging structures to meet current building standards while preserving their historic status.
The renovations provided updates to all the apartments and common areas, including mechanical systems throughout both buildings and a two-year long effort to preserve the historic floor to ceiling windows. All the units at Riverview received new appliances, cabinets, flooring, and windows, as well as new fixtures for plumbing and lighting.
National Church Residences stated they wanted to thank all the financial partners that made this project possible: the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the National Affordable Housing Trust, Key Bank, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.
The nonprofit also reported working with the National Park Service for guidance on what was described as the careful restoration of both buildings needed to meet historic standards that qualify the structures for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
The entire Boneyfiddle district was added to the National Registry in 1979.
Today, the Biggs and Washington houses are joined by a landscaped courtyard which has as a backdrop of Portsmouth’s well-known floodwall murals. Originally constructed in 1836, Biggs House was destroyed by fire in 1871 but immediately rebuilt. Built in 1900, Washington House, also experienced troubled times when it survived the floods of 1913 and 1937. National Church Residences likes to say both buildings exhibit “grand architectural styles with unique characteristics.”
National Church Residences serves more than 42,000 seniors with its housing and healthcare offerings. The organization maintains 340 communities in 26 states and in Puerto Rico. It is the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of affordable senior housing and the largest manager of service coordinators.
Church Residences advertises themselves as offering residential senior communities, home and community-based services and permanent and supportive housing for the formerly homeless and for disabled persons.