FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2021
Those leading restoration of the Clara Barton House in Johnstown are celebrating recent progress with a birthday party in honor of the historic figure’s 200th birthday.
Recently completed renovations include a new roof, gutters and window repairs on the 145-year-old building which served as headquarters for Clara Barton in the days following the 1889 Johnstown Flood. The restoration is being led by members of a Vision Together 2025 capture team.
“We had great fall weather so substantial progress has been made,” says Conway B. Jones, Jr., Chairman of Clara Barton House and Garden Inc., who is leading the restoration project. “We are driven by Clara Barton’s mantra, “You must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”
The capture team’s next challenge is raising the remaining $10,000 in funds needed to complete the first phase of renovations. “We kicked off a campaign to raise $50,000 in October in order to match a $50,000 state grant,” says Bob Eyer, a member of the capture team. “We seem to be stuck at the $40,000 level and need help from the community to raise the remaining $10,000 before the end of the year.”
Eyer says the home, located at 662 Main Street, is an important anchor of the upper end of the City’s 12 block corridor targeted for major renovations in the months to come.
The anniversary date of Clara Barton’s 200th birthday will be on December 25, 2021, and the board of directors will have a birthday recognition event at the house in her honor on Tuesday, December 21st at 1:30 p.m. Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic has been invited to cut the first piece of birthday cake, and the public and media are encouraged to attend to learn more about the restoration and see the progress firsthand.
Background on the Clara Barton House
Clara Barton arrived in Johnstown just days after the 1889 flood. She brought relief supplies, medical equipment, and a resolve to help Johnstown get a foothold on life after the disaster. It was the first big test of the new American Red Cross and its controversial President, and she passed it brilliantly.
The Red Cross went on to serve in every American war effort from the Spanish-American War to Afghanistan. The ARC returned to relieve Johnstown during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, and the devastating Floods of 1936 and 1977.
Pauline H. Gordon ran her mortuary business from 662 Main Street from the early 1970s-2003. She was Johnstown’s premiere African American businesswoman. Graduating from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1942, Gordon opened her own mortuary in Johnstown in 1946 at 42 ½ Bedford Street, then an African American neighborhood. Nine years later, Johnstowners elected her as its Assessor, “the only Negro elected to the office of Assessor in Pennsylvania,” according to the Pittsburgh Courier. She defeated a man who’d held the position for 20 years.
In 1957 she assumed the City Council seat for the Fourth Ward, the first woman to do so, holding the seat for 13 years, winning re-election after re-election as a pioneer in women’s rights and civil rights.
She served on the Cambria County Child Welfare Advisory Committee, the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW’s Frederick Douglass Post, and Johnstown’s NAACP executive committee wherein she led many voter registration drives during and after the Civil Rights Era.
Miss Gordon said she was married to her business, which thrived until her death in 2003, not before she challenged and changed Johnstown and Pennsylvania.