By Lora Abernathy
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Opal Collier hopped on the back of a four-wheeler with her husband. He needed to show her something.
The recently married pair drove up a mountain, winding through tangled brush and trees and climbing over rocky terrain. They reached the summit and stopped, looking out over the water. They were 400 feet above the Ohio River.
“Honey, how would you like a house here?” Leroy Collier asked.
A self-described “country girl” and clearly not intimidated by the mountain, she said yes without hesitation.
That was easy.
Leroy Collier bought the 100-acre Portsmouth property 40 to 50 years ago with the intention of living on it someday. It wasn’t until he married Opal Collier one year after meeting her that he would find his motivation to make the move.
The newlyweds were living on his Gallia County farm, but their business interests were in Portsmouth, so they looked for a home there.
Nothing suited them.
That’s when they hit the mountain that day, making the decision to erect their dream home on that dream piece of land.
Now came the hard part: what their house would look like.
They flipped through nearly 1,000 plans from an architect out of Canada until settling on one. Adjustments were still necessary. They enlarged the size of some of the rooms, and designed the house to maximize both sunlight and privacy while still maintaining the view — a balancing act.
Opal Collier said one of the things she likes best about the home is that it’s “pretty” on each end.
The home offers breathtaking views of the Ohio River. Leroy Collier said he can see to Wheelersburg and to New Boston and, “at night, the whole valley lights up like Christmas.”
The house isn’t enormous, Opal Collier said, making no apologies.
“We wanted a house that people feel comfortable in,” she said.