Historic Archibald Johnston mansion open to public for 1st time in years

Written by on October 14, 2021

Historic Archibald Johnston mansion open to public for 1st time in years

By Brad Klein

October 14, 2021

Organizers in Bethlehem Township hope to make the Bethlehem Steel executive’s mansion available for public gatherings and events. Photo | Courtesy of the Bethlehem Township Government and Emergency Management

The public will have a rare chance this weekend to tour a historic mansion in Bethlehem Township. It’s part of an effort to restore the building which is at the center of Housenick Memorial Park

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Housenick Memorial Park comprises more than 50 acres of meadows and woodlands along Monocacy Creek. It occupies land that once belonged to a Bethlehem Steel executive, who became mayor of Bethlehem in 1917. His three-story mansion now belongs to the township, and stands, locked and unoccupied at the high point of the park.

A photo of the outside of the historic Archibald Johnston Mansion in Bethlehem. Photo | Brad Klein / WLVR

“This is the historic Archibald Johnston mansion, the family called it the big house. It was built in the early 1920s, and what we have today is a beautifully restored exterior and a completely stripped interior,” said John Marquette of Bethlehem, who is leading the effort to restore the interior of the 6,000-square-foot mansion.

He said the township’s intention is to make it available to the community for gatherings and events. Archibald Johnston’s descendants lived on this property into the 21st century, including granddaughter, Janet Johnston Housenick. 

“She died in the mid-two thousands and at time of her death left the house and about 55 acres surrounding the house to the township of Bethlehem for use as a passive park,” Marquette said. 

A passive park means no baseball diamonds or barbecue pits — just a remnant of the township’s more rural past, preserved for the public’s enjoyment. 

The unrestored interior will be open to the public for the first time in more than three years: noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17. 

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