Just ask current owners Jerry and Beth Huntley. They were just curious auction goers back in October 2010 when the house was to be sold. Although they had not come to bid, they found it impossible to separate themselves from the house’s captivating appeal. When none of the bids reached the reserve price, it allowed the Huntleys to spend the day with the owners, Floyd and Debbie Book. Together, they toured the house and walked every inch of the 11-acre estate.
Beth describes her aha moment that came when she stood in front of the sprawling mansion. “I looked up at this enormous tree and realized there were buckeyes lying all over the ground and I got tears in my eyes.” The proud Ohio State University graduate was convinced this was where she was supposed to be. But several things had to fall into place before the couple finally took possession of the home in March 2011. Today, the massive buckeyes, oaks, maples, ginkgos and tamarack pines that grace the grounds offer tranquility and are a favorite part of living in the 100 Mile House for the couple.
So named because it is 100 river miles east of Cincinnati, the colonial style stone mansion is 15 minutes outside of Portsmouth on US 52 along the banks of the Ohio River.
Little is known about the “original” landmark named as the 100 Mile House, but the property has been making newspaper headlines since it was built in 1927. Prominent Portsmouth businessman Charles D. Scudder built the impressive mansion from native stone that graced the original structure, preserving the name as well. His plans to raze the original landmark to make way for “a more pretentious” home made the local newspaper and named the architect as Erik Strindberg. Headlines in 1937 document the sale of the estate to Roger A. Selby, president of the Selby Shoe Company, a brand synonymous with the finest women’s shoes worldwide.
Selby was not only a high profile businessman; he was a world-renowned breeder of Arabian horses. His dealings with Lady Wentworth (the famed British royal and owner of the Crabbet Arabian Stud farm) have brought about speculation that the 100 Mile House may have had frequent noble and perhaps even royal visitors. Oh, if only walls could talk, what stories they might tell.
Fast-forward about 85 years and the immaculately preserved home with its original historic features and classic modern updates gives historic preservation a whole new meaning. Beth, a music teacher, and Jerry, an audiovisual
consultant, make the 100 Mile House their home along with their daughter Christian who is an Ohio State graduate and is in grad school at West Virginia University and son Tanner who is a sophomore at Ohio State.
No detail was spared when the 100 Mile House was built. One newspaper article from 1937 described it as “the most complete” home in Scioto County. It has two floors, a full basement and an attic. One unusual feature – a demonstration of Selby’s self-sufficient style – is a fire hose cabinet on each floor.
Jim and Barbara Larter operated the home as a bed and breakfast for a short time during the 1990s and extensive renovations were done. Beth and Jerry have completed several updates themselves, including the addition of granite counter tops in both the main house and the guest apartment over the detached garage. The two are connected by an impressive covered columned walkway.
The floors in the 100 Mile House are beautifully restored original hardwood with the original baseboards. Also visible throughout are the massive hand hewn beams. The main living room showcases one of seven fireplaces. Above the mantel hangs a large framed picture of the home that was taken by Jerry. A calming music room on the first floor proudly portrays Beth’s love of music. All of the rooms are tastefully decorated using old pieces, new pieces and those crafted to look vintage.
The Huntleys utilize four spacious bedrooms, but six are possible. Tanner’s room has a private balcony overlooking the river. The home boasts three full baths, three half baths, and two more currently being renovated. There’s also a second floor laundry room.
The historic outdoor features only add to the grandeur. Perhaps the most massive and interesting is the stone circle near the front entrance. The big buckeye tree that stole Beth’s attention is in the center of the formation. To one side is a set of carriage steps, used to step up into a carriage, and to the other is a set of horse-mounting steps. There are three striking concrete lions on the grounds – two at the entrance and one on the stone circle. Situated near the riverbank is an unusual flagpole that appears to be a ship’s mast.
A large pool is located in the rear of the home and although it’s not clear when it was added, it is evident in very early photos of the house. It’s been said it was a saltwater pool fed from a saltwater spring. Nearby is a boathouse that was undoubtedly used by the boat captains who were rumored to have stopped at the farm to have dinner with the Selbys.
The 100 Mile House is situated on the Scioto Scenic Byway and the Huntleys have had some interesting visitors along the route who speculate on the home’s history. They also have spoken to Ray Gibson, the Selby’s gardener. The couple would love to hear from others who may have old photographs or know stories of their home’s earlier days. “A friend on the neighboring Essman Farm has told us stories about wandering over and getting cookies from the Selby staff. We know there are a lot more stories to be told and we’d love to hear them,” said Beth.
At present, the Huntleys are excited about hosting an upcoming wedding on the grounds. “We’re hosting it for friends, but it’s our vision to host many more (weddings) and turn it into a business,” said Beth. “The setting is perfect for outdoor activities and we’d like to open it up to gospel concerts and maybe even church retreats,” she added.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Jerry. “Our plans include filling in the pool and using it and the adjacent boathouse as a stage area. God has blessed us and the best way to enjoy that is to share it with others. This is a good opportunity for us,” he added.
Photos by Ashley Gallaher Quinn
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