Monday - Thursday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
The John Johnson House stands on a half-acre cleared lot close to the edge of Maiden Lane.
The John Johnson House is a 2 1/2 story Colonial-style residence. The main entry is placed off-center on the east side of the facade. Its simple moulded door frame with four toplights contains a replacement door of Victorian vintage. The fenestration is similarly irregular, consisting of four nine-over-twelve sash on the first and second stories grouped to the west of the mid-line of the facade, and a single nine-over-twelve aligned over the entry. The central chimney is off-center, being placed to the west of the mid-line of the facade. The house possesses a double overhang which, however, has been eradicated on its west gable end.
In November of 1743 Thomas Spelman and Noah Lyman purchased from John Camp a half-acre lot. When they sold the property to Stephen Lyman in 1750, “a small shop” had been built on the lot. Since Spelman is known to have been a stone carver (F.C.W. Barbour, Spelman Genealogy,1910), it seems likely that the shop run by Spelman and Noah Lyman was a stone carving enterprise. In 1761 Stephen Lyman sold the half interest in his partnership with Noah Lyman–and this property–to Elizabeth Austin. In 1773 Jesse and Elizabeth Austin sold the half acre “with a dwelling and shop” to John Johnson, Jr., scion of a Middletown family which had been involved in stone carving for several generations (A. I. Ludwig, Graven Images, 1966). Although not a Durham native, his possession of a valuable skill and his remarkable success as a commercial farmer (which was no doubt enhanced by his commercial contacts in Middletown), enabled John Johnson to occupy a central position in the life of the town. He served for many years as a deacon of the First Congregational Society and was active, under the pastorate of the Rev. David Smith, in purging unreliable persons from the church. In 1825 Johnson sold his house to his unmarried daughters, Almira, Rhoda, Eunice, and Nancy–after whom Maiden Lane is named. In 1869 the house was sold by Almira Johnson to Henry Atkins, a retired Miiddletown printer. He died in 1883, his widow lived on in the house until 1896, dying at the age of 91. In 1898 the Atkins heirs sold the property to Louesa A. Stevens of Madison, whose daughter Jennie L. Bristol (Mrs. Melville D. Bristol) inherited the.property in 1918. The Johnson House remained in the Bristol family until 1969 when it was sold to its present owners. At that time a stone well parapet ornamented with carvings was moved to the Bristol House on the
other side of Maiden Lane. This house, because of its unusual configuration, is of considerable architectural significance. It is of major historical importance as the center of stone carving in Durham for the period 1750-1825.