THE JOHNSTON HOUSE
James Johnston's white salt box house sits on a hill facing the ocean just south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1. In 1853, Johnston owned all the land from his home to the ocean. He built the house for his wife, Petra. It was the first all wood house to be built in the area. (slide show is below and an interview with a docent )
will be online shortly)
You can tour this house between 11am-3pm on the third Saturday of the month. Docents are there, often in period dress, to show you around the home and relate stories of what life was like there at the time.
Group tours can be arranged by calling 650-726-0329.
Closed October, November, December
No admission but donations are accepted.
Directions: Take a right onto Hwy 1 as you leave Pillar Point RV Park.
Drive approximately 4.5 miles. Turn left after you pass the Ford Dealership on the left. The house will be in sight, so follow the road a few blocks to the driveway. On the driveway, stay to the right because it is a one way road.
Johnston was born in Melrose, Scotland in 1813 and brought to the United States in 1818. He was one of nine children. What brought him to California eventually, was the gold rush. After much success, he moved to San Francisco and invested in real estate.
James and Petra had four children. Their only daughter, Alice, died when she was only 4 years old. Petra herself, died shortly after that in 1861 at the age of 29. Johnston moved
full time to his properties in San Francisco and left the raising of his sons to his sister Isabelle and Petra's mother, "Melita". In 1877, in what was perhaps a delayed reaction from the depression, he lost the ranch to foreclosure. When all was settled, the bank kept the land but James' sons were able to keep the house and 15 small lots. James died alone in a hotel in 1879 at the age of 67.
James, his son Thomas Francis, his sister Isabella and three brothers are all buried in the Odd Fellows cemetary in Half Moon Bay. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sally_mcburney/sets/72157622067209303/
The Johnston house was rejuvenated by The Johnston House Foundation, Inc.
so Californians centuries from now can see an important aspect of what California was like in pioneer days.