If you’ve lived in the Portsmouth area long enough, you’re probably familiar with the murals along the flood wall, but for some, their origins are still a mystery. For the next several weeks, the Daily Times will be presenting a series of stories about specific murals and their role in the community.
Spanning over 2,000 feet, the murals in Portsmouth have become a popular attraction for visitors and tourists. Progress on the murals continues to be made, with new additions and touch-ups being added frequently.
Located along Front Street, these murals portray the history of Portsmouth from the mound building Indians to the present day, and use a 20-foot high, 2,000 foot-long flood wall as a canvas. 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.
The first mural was completed in 1993. The murals are arranged chronologically from east to west, starting with the depiction of the Mound Builders. The series of murals serve as a visual history of the Portsmouth area.
Last week, the Daily Times touched on the history of the Alexandria Flood/Stone House. The Philip Moore Jr. Stone House is shown standing despite a raging storm. Today, the house stands on Route 239 in West Portsmouth. The house has been restored to its original appearance. In addition, the house is furnished with period pieces, making the experience as authentic as possible. For more information, you can go online to www.portsmouthstonehouse.com
The next mural in the series is the Henry Massie Platting Mural.
Although Portsmouth wasn’t officially founded until 1815, the land and the platting of the city took place in 1803. The mural represents a freehand sketch of Henry Massie at a surveyor’s desk drawing the original plat of Portsmouth. Several of the streets in town carry the same names as the original design suggested.
Massie visited the area from Virginia around the settlement of Alexandria. After the near-constant flooding and decimation of Alexandria, Massie settled the area and rebuilt. He chose the name ‘Portsmouth’ in honor of his friend Captain Josiah Shackford, who was from Portsmouth New Hampshire.
After completion, each lot on the plat sold for $50 and lands outside the plat sold for $10 per acre.
For an audio tour of the murals, you can dial 740-621-8031. After the introduction, each mural is a “stop.”
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.
Portsmouth Mural 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.