The John Johnston House, photo submitted c. 1970
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Johnston, John, House
415 Park Place, Sault Ste. Marie - Chippewa County
Property Type frame house
Historic Use DOMESTIC
Current Use RECREATION AND CULTURE
Style Other
Architect/Builder Mayer and Savoie
Significant Person John Johnston
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
Narrative Description The John Johnston House is a rectangular-plan one-and-one-half-story structure facing south with walls of six inch thick squared logs covered with clapboard siding under thick boards. The current house was built in 1822 as an addition to a now-demolished older structure. There are two gabled dormers in the half-story and five rooms and a hall on the ground level.
Statement of Significance One of the oldest structures on the Upper Great Lakes, the Johnston House represents a rare link with the early history of that area. Johnston, the builder, constructed a home on the site in 1794 and another to replace it in 1815. He built an addition to the 1815 structure on its western end in 1822, which comprises the current structure except for its west wall. In 1910 a tree destroyed the older portion of the home except for its east wall (the west wall of the 1822 building). The dormer windows and other changes were added by Colonel Eben S. Wheeler who lived there from 1883 to 1900. Johnston established a trading post here and with his knowledge of the Chippewa was an invaluable asset to European traders on the frontier. On one visit Henry Schoolcraft married Johnston's daughter, Jane Johnston. The Schoolcrafts then occupied the home until 1827. Purchased by the Great Lakes Towing Co. of Cleveland shortly after 1910, the house was presented as a gift to the city of Sault Ste. Marie in 1949 and restored by the firm of Mayer and Savoie. Currently the Johnston House is used as an architecture and construction exhibit.
Marker Name John Johnston House
Marker Text JOHN JOHNSTON HOUSE A native of Ireland and a Protestant, John Johnston (1762-1828) arrived on the Lake Superior frontier in the early 1790s. He married the daughter of a powerful Chippewa chief and settled here in 1793. Johnston's knowledge of the Chippewa and the Great Lakes region made him a central figure in the development of this frontier. His original house was a hospitable meeting place for explorers, surveyors, trappers, traders, and Indians. Loyal to the British, Johnston aided them in taking the American fort on Mackinac Island in 1812. In retaliation, American troops burned Johnston's house in 1815. He soon rebuilt it. This surviving portion erected about 1822, in part to house his daughter Jane and her husband, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who lived there until 1827, is a reminder of Johnston's pivotal role in the area's transition from British to American control.
Period of Significance 1600-1825
Significant Date(s) 1822
Registry Type(s) 04/01/1977 Marker erected
07/08/1970 National Register listed
02/19/1958 State Register listed
Site ID# P22857