Johnson House Historic Site

An Underground Railroad Station and Museum in Philadelphia

President’s Message

Supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

Supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

President’s Message: Recently, I was standing at the front door of the Johnson House, looking out and doing a little “environmental scanning.” A young man waiting for the bus came over and said he had come with his school to visit our site. I asked him, “what do you remember about your visit?” and he said, “Slaves came to this house.” His mother was with him and she was surprised to learn that the Johnson House Historic Site is a museum and was a station stop on the Underground Railroad.

Often, I ask this question of staff, Board and stakeholders, “what is the story we want to tell?” We are very grateful to the Pew Foundation for generous funding that has enabled us to complete a 3-year Strategic Plan entitled Steps to Freedom. Through this process, we have identified four compelling needs that Johnson House is uniquely qualified to address in our local and national discourse:

  1. The true story of the Underground Railroad, embedded in the economy and politics of our developing nation, and told through the viewpoints of African American leaders in that struggle.
  2. The complex and inspirational stories of African American and Quaker allies.
  3. Opportunities for visitors of many ages to actively engage in learning this history, so that they might take insights from the JHHS’ story into their analysis of the issues facing us today.
  4. “Paying forward” the core principles of the JHHS story, bringing those principles into a call to action for social justice in our own times.

In 2012, we welcomed 7,444 visitors! Students visited in high numbers and learned about the struggle for freedom – providing an excellent opportunity to engage them in early lessons on civil literacy.

In May, 2013, we were thrilled to receive a $200,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) This money will be used for repairs and conservation work to assure a long life for the building, as well as to improve facilities for serving visitors, while preserving the original integrity of the building.

Our largest challenge is immediate: to establish a strong fund for operational expenses. Our staff continues to work and exhibit dedication to the community and the site by giving their time and enthusiasm to keep the House open.  As we grow fully to understand the potential for Johnson House’s role in our local and national scene, the responsibility to support its potential increases.

We are asking Friends of JHHS to make a gift. Our goal for the year is to raise $100,000. Your gift will help to ensure that this vital heritage continues to inspire the next generation as the Johnson House seeks to restore its historic buildings and grounds and provide educational services by working closely within a diverse community. With your help, we will be positioned positively with foundations, increasing our chances of doubling or even tripling the donations of loyal supporters to reach our goal of raising $300,000 by June 30th, 2016. Will you consider joining us in making a generous commitment for the next three years?  Your tax-deductible gift is critical to our success, to our goal of fully telling Johnson House’s compelling story — Steps to Freedom.

Thank you for your support of Johnson House,

Patricia Bass                                                                Cornelia Swinson

President Board of Directors                                       Executive Director

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This entry was posted on October 25, 2013 by and tagged , .

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