PIQUA — Supporters of the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency gathered recently at the Johnston Farm Museum to learn more about the Sharing the Vision Campaign. The Johnston Family home was open for tours so that donors who had not visited the home for some time would have the opportunity to see the home before renovations begin. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Johnston Farm Friends Council President Michael Gutmann welcomed the guests, which included two Ohio History Connection Board Members. They were Crown Equipment CEO Jim Dicke II and USAeroteam CEO Suhas Kakde. The Johnston Farm & Indian Agency is one of the more than 50 sites and museums throughout Ohio managed by Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society).
Gutmann also introduced Johnston Friends Council Board Members who were in attendance, as well as others of note, including Sen. Bill Beagle and Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds.
Johnston Farm Site Manager Andy Hite spoke briefly about the original restoration of the Johnston family home. He pointed out that the Johnston Farm was purchased by the State of Ohio in 1965. Restoration of the home began in 1968 and was completed in 1972.
Ohio History Connection Director of Architectural Services Fred Smith outlined the scope of work that will be undertaken within the home.
“If John Johnston were to return, we would want him to be able to walk through the front door and say ‘I am home,’” said Smith.
“Restoration practices in 1968 were far different than they are today,” Smith told his audience. “In 1968, there was a desire to reconstruct the home as representative of homes that would have been constructed in 1815. Today, the standard of care requires that we restore the home to what it would have looked like when the Johnston Family lived in it.”
“Fortunately, when John Carpenter completed the original restoration work, he preserved the woodwork that was removed,” Smith said. “All seven mantelpieces survived, as did the chair rail and the staircase. In fact, the mantelpieces are some of the finest hand-carved mantels from that period anywhere. We don’t know whether John Johnston had them sent here from Philadelphia, or if he had a carpenter come to the farm to work. Whichever it was, we will have those mantels and they will soon be back where they belong.”
Smith also detailed the paint analysis that was undertaken at the Wilson House in Shelby County in an attempt to find the correct colors that would have been used during that time. He also detailed how the oxidation of metals mixed with the paint, especially copper, would cause the paint to change in hue over time.
Longtime Johnston Farm Friends Council Board Member Margaret French announced the Sharing the Vision Campaign Committee. They include campaign co-chairs Michael and Elizabeth Gutmann; Richard Adams, PhD; Mike Barhorst; Brett Baumeister; Cheryl Buecker; Karen Crump; and Scott Mueller. Margaret French and her husband, Dan, are serving as honorary co-chairs.
The total amount to be raised is $557,235.60. In addition to the work on the Johnston family home, the restrooms in the museum will be retrofitted so that they are handicapped-accessible, and some additional work will be done to the exterior of the museum building.
“Fortunately, the campaign has received a generous grant from the State of Ohio totaling $271,775,” French stated. “As a result, we will need to raise $285,460.60 to complete the scope of work that has been described.”
Solicitation for the campaign will get under way in the next couple of weeks.