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Local history focus of project

Mayor Rich Blankenship offers insights and guidance to a class with Ohio University Southern and Chesapeake High School.

Local teachers and students are looking to preserve Ironton’s heritage and hope to compile information for more accessibility.

Chesapeake High School speech teacher Colleen Sexton and her junior and senior speech class are collaborating with David Lucas, professor of communication studies at Ohio University Southern on a project about Ironton’s historical homes and buildings.

Each of the seven students were given three buildings to research. After compiling research, the students will interview the owners of the homes to see if they know any additional information. Finally they will do speeches about what they have learned.

Students shuffled through historical documents, books, papers and pictures on a table at Briggs Lawrence Library Tuesday as part of their research.

“A lot of the houses are connected through families,” senior Jessa Wilson said. “If I have information on one house, someone else has information that coincides with it.”

Lucas plans to put the students’ speeches into a documentary. He plans to have a video that can be uploaded to the Internet and a full color pamphlet.

“A few years ago (OUS) students would give walking tours about historic homes in Ironton. They had to give the speech 30 or more times a day. It made them weary. So we decided to think of a different way,” Lucas said.

“The information has been there,” Sexton said. “It’s our job to compile the information and make logical sense out of all of it.”

Lucas hopes the finished product will allow individuals to conduct a walking tour on their own time.

The projected completion time is mid-November.

Lucas also pointed out contrasts between the houses in the 1800s to modern times.

“They took more time to build a home and when they built it, it was for a lifetime,” he said. “We’re a lot more transient now. I could build a house here and sell it in five years.”

Mayor Rich Blankenship also watched the students work and shared information about Ironton’s history.

“(Ironton) has a rich history that needs to be told,” he said,

“We want anyone in the world to come to Ironton and envision life as it was and life as it could be,” Lucas said.