Located along Front Street in downtown Portsmouth, the murals play an important role in the towns vitality. But despite being a staple in the history and culture of Portsmouth, the murals remain a mystery for some and their details are often overlooked.
The murals tell the story of Portsmouth in chronological order, starting with the mound building Indians to the present day, and use the 20-foot high, 2,000 foot-long flood wall as a canvas. The murals serve as a popular attraction for visitors and natives. The murals are ever-changing and growing, with new additions and touch-ups being added frequently. The project runs the length of the historic district and includes over 55 different scenes.
In 1992, the planning stages of the Flood wall Mural Project began with the formation of an ad hoc committee, which later registered as a nonprofit organization – Portsmouth Murals, Inc. (PMI). Robert Dafford, an internationally known muralist from Lafayette, Louisiana, was contracted for the project.
Each Thursday, the Daily Times will focus on a specific section of the murals, discussing its history and role in the community.
This week, we will focus on the Early Police and Firemen mural. Completed in 1999 and spanning 40 feet, this mural depicts early law enforcement and fire brigades in Portsmouth. Shortly after the first pioneers arrived in Portsmouth the need for police arose. In 1803, the first sheriff was appointed. Subsequently, the first jail was built at the northeast corner of Front and Market Streets.
The first volunteer fire department formed in 1820. In order to become a member, you had to first purchase your own leather bucket. In 1871, four volunteer units combined to establish the city’s first “paid,” fire department. The first station, housing Engine Co No. 1 was built on Seventh Street in 1905.
If you’d like to see the murals for yourself, follow the green mural signs posted in the city on Washington Street (Rt. 23 South) leading to the murals on Front Street.
If you would like to tour the murals from your car, you can take an audio tour by dialing 740-621-8031. After the introduction, each mural is a “stop.” You can also go online to www.portsmouthmurals.oncell.com to access the audio clips for each mural.
Portsmouth Murals Inc., is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organizations. If you wish to contribute to the project, you can do so by mailing contributions to Portsmouth Murals Inc. at P.O. Box 207, Portsmouth, Ohio, 45662.
For more information about the murals, you can visit the Scioto County Visitors Bureau at 342 Second Street in Portsmouth.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.