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Old Sciotoville House Takes
on a New Livelier Role

by Janet Nesler

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Travelers down U.S. 52 from Portsmouth to Ashland can’t miss the big white house with all the Christmas lights—thousands of them, highly visible from the highway.  But it’s not a residence as one might imagine; it’s a place of business.

Dick and Connie Eckhart of Minford, Ohio, found a dream on the Ohio River.  Towering white pillars lead the way to unique dining in a colonial setting filled with the aroma of pizza sauce.

“When I found out the old house in Sciotoville on the Ohio River was for sale it was all I could think about,” said Connie, “What a nifty place it would be for a pizza and gift shop.  The next day when I went to work, I started figuring and then I called my husband and said I was coming home and we were going to buy a house.  We met the real estate agent and bought it on the spot.”

Once the papers were signed, the Eckharts started restoring the old house back to its original state.  They hired an engineer to design it they way they wanted, adding necessities like a ramp for handicap access in a way that didn’t detract form the house’s original charm.

The outcome of all their work is an elegant colonial house-restaurant that resembles a southern mansion.  One would expect fine dining and violins, but instead visitors find diners in casual jeans among the beautiful antiques, enjoying folk music and the sound of a dulcimer.

The old house has a lot of history.  The Eckharts believe the house was built prior to 1835 because of a receipt found when the renovation started.  Mr. Wolford, who owned the property, had the house built by a man in exchange for another piece of property.

It was called Wolford’s Landing because they used to come up a little creek beside the property and off load iron ore.  “There is still a campground by that name next to the restaurant.

The house was then handed down to descendants of the Wolford family, two spinster sisters named Josie and Edna Brown.  They lived in the house with their bachelor brother Charlie Brown.

“Charlie was not well and knew he would be passing on soon,” Connie said.  “He asked a friend if he would watch after the two ladies, and promised if he would he would be rewarded.  Josie Brown was the last one to pass away and when she died, Gaylord Rider of the Sciotoville area, who had looked after Josie and Edna, inherited all the property, including the campground next door.”

Rider lived in the home for almost 35 years.  When he became too ill to live alone, the house was put on the market.  That’s when the Eckharts found it.

“We decorated with antiques to catty out the theme of the aura of the house.” said Connie.  “It’s a lot more ornate than Victorian but it carries out the feeling of the houses of that day.  When we took up the flooring there were five layers.  We struggled to get down to the original bare flooring, then we refinished it.”

In the middle room, there is a little room with only one table, christened “The Nook,” a favorite of couples for a special celebration.  The house also boasts two fireplaces, uncovered during the renovation, and striped down to their original brick.  They burn now with gas logs instead of wood.

“We started on the house at the end of July, 1997 and we opened last April,” said Connie.  “We had what is called a ‘soft’ opening.  We had a party for all our friends and everyone who had worked on the house with us.”

 

 

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