PORTSMOUTH — History is bound to be forgotten if not properly documented or showcased, at the basis of their work, a local group has taken this message to heart and is attempting to open a museum this summer.
The three-story museum will have many stories to tell, John McHenry sharing its timeline will include as far back as Revolutionary War soldiers settling in the Scioto Valley through today. The building itself has history, which formerly served as Hibbs Hardware and has stood since 1910.
Committee chairman Sean McHenry shared he has been telling these stories about the county’s history, how things used to be, without visual aid. If a picture says 1,000 words, he hopes the museum is a lengthy read.
“This museum should tell the story of us,” he said, one of his goals for the museum to have a shoe made by the Williams Shoe Manufacturing Company from Portsmouth.
More than just a storage site, educational and research-based events at the museum will be held once the pandemic subsides. The committee also plans on working with other local museums, such as the Southern Ohio Museum and Roy Rogers Museum, to promote a shared message of keeping history alive in the area.
“We want to work together, in consortium, with other museums,” said John McHenry, also mentioning the work of the Lucasville Area Historical Society. “We are not in competition.”
Volunteers and donations have made the initial work possible so far, but the museum is still seeking funds to help restore the awning through a GoFundMe. The committee’s hope is to make the awning look like Hurth Apartments’ on Chillicothe Street, attempting to get $10,000 for the entryway covering.
Local groups backing SCHM include the Southern Ohio Medical Center and the Scioto Foundation, who have pledged $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. One unnamed individual also contributed $5,000.
The Marting’s building, where the museum is setting up shop, is owned by the city and is seeking buyers. According to the property information found on the Scioto County auditor website, the building was last sold June 4, 2002. Its property is valued at $35,220 for the land and an additional $142, 280 in market improvement value.
With that in mind, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Monday the understanding was that the museum would have to vacate the premises if the building were to sell. The lease should make note of that, he feels.
“We need to make sure that this annex doesn’t hinder the sale of the building,” said Johnson, 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne in agreement. City Solicitor John Haas said in response that the understanding can be included in the lease terms.
From what the city has seen so far, they have been impressed with SCHM’s developments at the location including a fresh coat of paint and a new gas furnace.
“They have done good work inside and I would love to see a museum there or somewhere here in our city,” the mayor said, where council later voted in a 6-0 vote to move it on to second reading. “But I also know if the Marting’s building were to sell, we need to make sure that annex accompanies the sale of that building.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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