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William Derby Johnson, Jr. House, Kanab

Sometimes an historic house seems to choose its owners. Arthur and Alice Brown built a new house outside Kanab, but felt drawn to the William Derby Johnson, Jr. House every time they drove by it. The house had been vacant for years. The porches were literally falling off or completely missing. The consensus in town was that it should be tom down.

Knowing that Alice has an equilibrium problem on uneven surfaces, Arthur suggested going inside to "see what your head does." When Alice's head indicated the floors were level, the Browns immediately decided to buy the house. Over the next 12 years they restored, repaired, or rebuilt virtually every feature of the building.

On the exterior, the Browns replaced severely damaged siding with new siding milled to match the original. They restored the existing porches to their original condition and reconstructed a two-story porch completely missing from the south side. They also had new windows and exterior doors custom made to match the historic ones.

On the interior, the Browns demolished the existing walls and an unsafe staircase to install insulation and new plumbing and electrical systems. They also removed, restored, and reinstalled original woodwork and refinished original floors and doors. The Browns performed much of this interior work themselves.

The beautiful Johnson House now stands as proof of Alice Brown's conviction that "You can make a silk purse from a sow's ear!" It is also evidence of the contribution dedicated homeowners can make to historic