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"Chillicothe Street - 1940's" - Mural by Robert Dafford
"Chillicothe Street - 1940's" - Portsmouth's main street - from an old postcard Mural by Robert Dafford

Portsmouth Flood Wall Mural Project - Ohio Legacies Captured in Art

During 1992, a group of citizens, led by Dr. Louis R. and Ava Chaboudy, imagined that painting murals depicting the history of the Portsmouth area on the drab Boneyfiddle floodwall would contribute to the cultural quality of life within the community. It would also encourage the restoration effort of the historic part of town, Boneyfiddle, and enhance tourism. Robert Dafford, an internationally known muralist from Lafayette, Louisiana, was contracted for project, funded by both individual and corporate contributors, and grants from several government arts organizations.

The first mural was completed in 1993. The murals are arranged chronologically from east to west, starting with the depiction of the Mound Builders, who are ancestors of the Shawnee Indians. A more recent mural depicts a modern day scene of one of Ohio's river bridges. Other subjects are a Shawnee Indian village, a view of the Ohio Canal, and a Civil War scene. By 1999, forty murals covering 32,840 square feet had been completed. Approximately fifteen more murals, covering 10,540 square feet, will be completed by fall of 2002, in time for the bicentennial celebrations in Scioto County and Ohio.

Dafford and his team of artisans research mural subjects by studying old photographs from the Carl Akerman collection at the Southern Museum and Cultural Center; and photographs, pictures, books, and post cards from private collections and the Shawnee State University library. Dafford also gains insight for his work from discussions he has with senior citizens and local groups who have knowledge about particular mural subjects.

Documentation includes a nine-page report and 12 photographs of murals.

Originally submitted by: Ted Strickland, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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