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Photos/History of Portsmouth, Ohio

Photos/History of Portsmouth, Ohio

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The Orpheum was located at 614 Chillicothe Street. Although mentioned in the newspaper as early as 1905, it is only listed in the city directory from 1908 to 1913 (closed June 1913). The prices were: Gallery .10; balcony .15; lower floor .15 and .20; and boxes, .25.

In 1897, the Board of Education purchased the George Davis property located at Waller and Gallia Streets. The house was remodeled at the cost of $18,000, and called Davis High School. High school classes were held in this building from 1902-1910. Students attended Second Street School until the new high school opened in 1912.

We have recently acquired several stereoview cards and a viewer. Here is a view of the old Opera House. The first recorded theater in the Portsmouth area was Wilhelm’s Opera House. Opening 1878, the early theater was a stage type. It was located on 4th and Court Streets.

Another building in the Boneyfiddlle area collapsed yesterday (12/2/2014) about 3 p.m. The building at 105 Court Street (corner of Court and Front) was being renovated when it fell. The building was so unstable that crews had to finish tearing it down. In the 1894 city directory it housed Bernard Augustin & Bernard Augustin Jr, Wholesale Groceries.

The Portsmouth Area Bicentennial has begun! Trek from Alexandria to higher ground for the opening of our Bicentennial celebration!

Kicking off Portsmouth's Bicentennial Celebration

Portsmouth Public Library presented Musical Notes Through History-Appalachian Music- An event to celebrate Portsmouth's Bicentennial. (Sept. 2014)

The Columbia Theater opened November 21, 1910. It had 328 seats, but following the 1913 flood, 170 new were added. The Columbia completed an expansion in 1928 which brought the seating total to 1,000. During this closing, the Columbia used the Sun Theater across the street. Sound was installed in 1929. Restoration on the theater began in 2004, it opened in 2006, but the theater was destroyed by fire in 2007. In 2011, the building was rebuilt/restored as an entertainment venue.

Thomas M. Patterson, with a partner, started his book bindery business in 1855. In 1866, the partnership dissolved and in 1883, he added the production of paper boxes. His boxes were used in the numerous shoe factories in Portsmouth. In 1887, the bindery was considered the oldest on the Ohio River above Cincinnati. In 1896, he moved his business from Market Street to Front and Washington. The business closed in 2002 after 147 years.

  • Angela Oravetz
    Angela Oravetz

    This is where my dad worked from 1968 to 2001. He was a foreman there under Bill Lutz and then Jeff Smith. We always teased him that the place would shut its doors if Daddy ever left there. Less than a year after Daddy's retirement, it did just that.

The Mackey & Muggeridge Washing Machine Manufacturers began production of the Challenge Washer in Portsmouth in November of 1872. According to the 1872-73 city directory, the business was located on the east side of Gay Street, north of 4th. The washing machine manufactured by Mackey & Muggeridge was considered as “the center around which ladies circled, and they commented very favorably on this labor saving machine”. (antique Challenge washer pictured)

In the early 1800’s, steamboats were built in Portsmouth. The first steamboat built in Scioto County was called the “Herald”, later changed to the “Ohio”. As a port along the Ohio River, many steamboats that traveled the Ohio, made stops at Portsmouth. The produce that came down the canal was transferred to the steamboats for delivery to cities along the river. This made Portsmouth a prosperous river town.

Among the many early candy manufacturers in Portsmouth was Soper’s Big Candy Wagon. William Soper, a Civil War veteran, drove his candy wagon through the streets of Portsmouth from the late 1800s until his health failed in 1913. His wife rode along delivering their candy as the “grind organ” filled the air with its music.

Construction of the streetcar lines in Portsmouth began in 1877 starting at Front St. and ending at Greenlawn Cemetery. Millbrook Park became popular in the 1890s when the electric streetcars replaced the horse-drawn cars. The first extension of the new electrical system made its way five miles into New Boston. As new tracks had been laid, the first trip to New Boston was shortly thereafter (1893). The 4 original streetcars had a seating capacity of 24 each.

In 1909, The Scioto Hominy Company was established at Gay and 13th Streets. The company, formerly the Cereal Mills, produced breakfast foods and shipped them worldwide. Markets included Liverpool, England, Copenhagen and other areas in Denmark. Trouble with machinery and finances led to the company’s closing in 1911. In 1913, the Independent Hominy Plant opened at the same location. This company also provided feed for livestock. May 30, 1914, the plant was completely destroyed by fire.

J.T Brown opened the Golden Rod Piano Factory, and the first piano manufactured in Portsmouth was Aug. 11, 1896. Originally located on Bond Street, the factory was relocated to the old Fulton Mill at the corner of Front and Chillicothe in 1899. Brown died suddenly at the age of 46 on April 5, 1897. After Brown passed away, his son and William Copeland took over the business. The company was reorganized by Paul Burling in 1915 ,and the name was changed to the Portsmouth Piano Co.

Harsha Flour Mill was located on 8th Street was damaged by fire Jan. 12, 1922. On Feb. 2 1925, sparks from a grain elevator caused the 3rd fire in the plant’s history. On Dec 7, 1953, the mill was completely destroyed and arson was suspected.

On July 12, 1879, Portsmouth Woolen Mills opened at 4th and Chillicothe Streets. They advertised that they were ready to “card, spin and weave” and they paid “the highest market price for wool”. Starting with 32 employees, by 1881 they increased to 45 workers and added 14 more knitting machines. It was noted that the company manufactured over 1,200 lbs. of yarn and over 2,500 pair of socks weekly. The plant closed in foreclosure in April, 1893.

Johnson Hub & Spoke Works started operation in May 1868, and was located in a 3-story building on Chillicothe, between 11th and 12th. The business was considered the most active manufacturers of its time, and was known for it’s locale along the river and near hickory and locust wood. In 1885, a fire destroyed the factory but it was rebuilt. The factory relocated to Illinois in 1893 after yet another fire.

Around 1908, the N & W built the YMCA at 2829 Gallia Street near its terminal. Train crew often stayed while waiting for the next run. It closed about 1960. It became the Homestead Restaurant first, then the Cavalier. It was torn down in 1968.

The Germania Fire Engine House, built in the 1850’s, was located on Madison Street. The building housed a hose cart, keel and other early fire fighting equipment. The Germania “Fire Laddies” often participated in parades and other celebrations in which they wore their uniforms (pictured).

The first skating rink built was located on the northwest corner of 6th and Court and was called the Palais. The second rink was the Monarch which was located on Washington Street. Others that followed were the Richardson and Massie Hall. The most popular was the rink at Millbrook Park pavilion in New Boston.

In the 1870’s, Epizootic developed among the horses in Scioto County. Epizootic is a disease which attacks many subjects in a region at the same time but is only occasionally present in the population; when it occurs, it is widely diffused and rapidly spreading. The Adams Express Company had to replace the horses with oxen to make their deliveries.

Portsmouth had many dairies, including Modern Dairy on 2nd St. (later Borden), Select Dairy on Gallia St., Ideal Milk on 10th and Pure Milk (pictured) on 8th and John Streets. In the 1915 city directory, there were 10 dairies listed. Some of these were later bought up by the bigger firms.

In 1899, a semi-pro team called the Navies was organized. Branch Rickey and Al Bridwell played briefly for the Navies. In this photo taken about 1902, Bridwell is pictured in the 3rd row, 4th from the left.

In 1876, the Scioto County Children’s Home was built on the present-day mound at Mound Park. The other horseshoe mound on Grant Street was plowed over in 1888 for Highland School. Only the one mound still exists at Mound Park. These horseshoe mounds are attributed to the Hopewell Indians.