Clarence H. Johnston, Sr.
Johnston's parents, Alexander Johnston and Louise Johnston (née Buckhout), moved to Waseca County, Minnesota in 1856, along with a few other families. They established a settlement named Okaman on the shores of Lake Elysian. Their first son, John Buckhout Johnston, was born in 1858, and became a prominent manufacturer and businessman. Clarence Johnston was born on August 26, 1859. The family then moved to Wilton, which was then the county seat of Waseca County, and Alexander Johnston took over the publication of a local newspaper. In 1861, the family moved to Faribault. Their third child, Grace, was born on March 2, 1862. They moved again, to St. Paul, where their fourth child, Charles Albert, was born in 1864. They moved briefly to Hastings, and then returned to St. Paul permanently in 1868. Alexander Johnston was then a reporter for the St. Paul Daily Pioneer, now the St. Paul Pioneer Press.:3-4
Clarence started attending St. Paul High School in 1872, and also took on a job as a clerk at the law firm of Rogers and Rogers. His mother died on May 8, 1874, at age 42. That same year, Clarence quit the job as clerk and went to work at the firm of Abraham M. Radcliffe as a draughtsman. Radcliffe's firm was a local training ground for aspiring architects at the time. In September 1876, Cass Gilbert joined Radcliffe's firm as an apprentice, and Gilbert and Johnston soon became very good friends.:5-6 In the fall of 1878, Gilbert and Johnston entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They met James Knox Taylor, who also grew up in St. Paul and had joined MIT as an architectural student a year earlier. Gilbert and Johnston, along with Taylor, had opted to take the special two-year course in architecture, rather than the full four-year degree-granting program. Johnston was forced to drop out after one term due to financial reasons.:7-9 He moved back to St. Paul and worked in the firm of Edward Bassford, where the firm was more conscious of costs to the client in the design and construction costs. This influenced Johnston's work, because he viewed economic constraints as a challenge to be solved by inventiveness, instead of being a restriction on his artistry. During these years, Gilbert and Johnston kept in touch through a large number of letters.:10
In January 1880, Cass Gilbert departed to Europe for an architectural tour. Gilbert wrote to Johnston urging him to make a similar trip, but around that time, Johnston received a job offer from Herter Brothers in New York. One of the projects on which he worked was J.P. Morgan's brownstone house on Madison Avenue at 36th Street. In the midsummer of 1880, Cass Gilbert returned from Europe and settled in New York, working for the firm of McKim, Mead & White. Gilbert and Johnston, along with their MIT classmate Francis Bacon, shared rooms at 40 Irving Place. In the summer of 1880, Johnston, Gilbert, Bacon, Taylor, and William A. Bates founded the Sketch Club which later became the Architectural League. Accounts vary on which members were actually the founders of the club.:14-16
In February 1883, Johnston went abroad, traveling in Europe and Asia Minor. In 1886, Mr. Johnston established his own practice in Saint Paul. Five years later, he was retained by the State Board of Control, preparing plans for the Minnesota State Prison and other institutions. He was architect for the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota and drew plans for all buildings on the new campus and some on the older portion. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a past president and director of the Minnesota chapter.
Johnston's son, Clarence Johnston Jr., was also an architect. He designed Coffman Memorial Union and other buildings within the University of Minnesota system, as well as the limestone Tri-State Telephone Company building (now CenturyLink) at 70 W. 4th Street, built in 1937.
As state architect
On May 22, 1901, the Minnesota State Board of Control, a body responsible for the construction and operation of all state-funded institutions, appointed Johnston as the state's architect. He continued as the state architect until 1931, when the State Division of Construction was dissolved. During this time, he also continued his private practice, since state business was at the whims of the Minnesota Legislature issuing building projects at certain times. Retaining private commissions allowed him to operate his office continuously. Private commissions also earned a higher rate of return.:110-112
The State Board of Control was initially in charge of nine institutions::112
|Historic institution name||Modern name||Location||Buildings designed by Johnston:182-194|
|Hospital for the Insane||Minnesota Security Hospital||St. Peter||Main building additions and alterations, additional dormitories and wards|
|Rochester Asylum for the Insane||Closed 1982 and demolished||Rochester||Main building additions and alterations, dormitories and hospital buildings|
|State Asylum for the Insane, Anoka||Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center||Anoka||Main building additions and alterations, several cottages for men and women, new administration building in 1919|
|Hastings Asylum for the Insane||Minnesota Veterans Home, Hastings||Hastings||Main building additions and alterations, several cottage and dormitory buildings|
|Training School for Boys||Minnesota Correctional Facility – Red Wing||Red Wing||Main building additions and alterations, auditorium/gymnasium, shop building, kitchen building, and cottages|
|Minnesota State Reformatory||Minnesota Correctional Facility – St. Cloud||St. Cloud||South wing completion, new administration building, cell houses D, E, and F, hospital|
|Minnesota State Prison||Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater||Stillwater||Initial design of the new Bayport location authorized in 1905, administration building, four cellhouses, machinery factory/shops/foundry, warden and deputy warden's residences|
|Minnesota School for the Feeble-Minded||Closed 1998, subsumed by Minnesota Correctional Facility – Faribault||Faribault||Main building alterations and additions, many custodial buildings and cottages|
|University of Minnesota||Minneapolis campus||
|University of Minnesota School of Agriculture||University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus||St. Paul campus||
|First State Normal School of Minnesota||Winona State University||Winona||Library, Morey Hall, Phelps Hall, Shepard Hall, College Hall|
|Mankato Normal School||Minnesota State University, Mankato||Mankato|
|Third State Normal School||St. Cloud State University||St. Cloud|
|Moorhead Normal School||Minnesota State University Moorhead||Moorhead|
|Duluth Normal School||University of Minnesota Duluth||Duluth|
|Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children||Closed 1970, now preserved as a museum||Owatonna||South wing, power plant, and some dormitory buildings|
|State School for the Blind||Minnesota State Academy for the Blind||Faribault|
|State School for the Deaf||Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf||Faribault|
|Some buildings of the Minnesota State Fair||St. Paul||Cattle pavilion, grandstand repairs and reinforcing, warehouse|
While Johnston was the state architect, the board added the following institutions to its control::112
|Historic institution name||Date added||Modern name||Location||Buildings designed by Johnston:182-194|
|Minnesota State Sanatorium for Consumptives||1905||Ah-Gwah-Ching State Health Care Facility||Walker|
|Thirteen county sanatoriums||1913||Various counties|
|State Hospital for Indigent, Crippled, and Deformed Children||1907||Renamed Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children in 1925; now part of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare||Near Lake Phalen in St. Paul||Main complex, several service buildings, and Michael Dowling Hall (school)|
|Willmar Hospital Farm for Inebriates||1907||Willmar Regional Treatment Center, closed in 2007||Willmar|
|Home School for Girls||1907||Minnesota Correctional Facility-Sauk Centre; closed in 1999||Sauk Centre|
|Women's Reformatory||1918||Minnesota Correctional Facility – Shakopee||Shakopee|
|Minnesota Colony for Epileptics||1924||Cambridge State Hospital, closed 1999||Cambridge|
|Ramsey County Preventorium||1928||Became Lake Owasso Children's Home in 1955; closed 1976||North of St. Paul|
|Agricultural school added to Northwest Agricultural Experiment Station||1905||University of Minnesota Crookston||Crookston||
|Agricultural school added to Northeast Agricultural Experiment Station||1905||Now part of Itasca Community College||Grand Rapids||School of agriculture, Bergh Hall, and Donovan Hall|
|West Central School of Agriculture||1910||University of Minnesota Morris||Morris||
|South Agricultural Experiment Station||1912||University of Minnesota Waseca (now defunct)||Waseca||Superintendent's residence|
|Northeast Demonstration Farm and Experiment Station||1912||razed||Duluth||Institute Hall|
|Bemidji State Normal School||1918||Bemidji State University||Bemidji||Deputy Hall, Sanford Hall, training school wing and heating plant|
|Minnesota Historical Society building||1916-1918||Minnesota Judicial Center||St. Paul|
|Minnesota State Office Building||1931-1932||St. Paul|
For all the institutions above, Clarence Johnston either designed new buildings, designed improvements to existing buildings, or both.
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Campus
- Child Development and Folwell Hall, part of the University of Minnesota Old Campus Historic District
- Collaborator with Cass Gilbert on the Northrop Mall
- Northrop Auditorium
- Walter Library
- Williams Arena
University of Minnesota, Saint Paul Campus
- Haecker Hall (Dairy Husbandry)
- Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Building
- Coffey Hall
- McNeal Hall
- Eastcliff (mansion), the residence of the president of the University of Minnesota.
- Minnesota State Fair Grandstand
- Burbank-Livingston-Griggs House, 432 Summit Ave., Saint Paul
- 976 Summit Ave., Saint Paul
- Pierce and Walter Butler House, 1345-1347 Summit Ave., Saint Paul
- Henry Byllesby Row House, Saint Paul
- Saint Paul Academy, lower school building, formerly the Summit School for Girls
- Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Administration Building, Faribault, Minnesota
- Glensheen Historic Estate, Duluth, Minnesota
- Duluth State Normal School buildings, now the University of Minnesota Duluth lower campus
- Several buildings of the University of Minnesota Morris, dating back to its foundation as West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station Historic District
- Saint Paul Central High School, 1912 building at Marshall Ave and Lexington Parkway.
- Minnesota Humanities Center (Formerly Dowling Memorial Hall on the Gillette Children's Hospital Campus at Phalen Lake), 1924. Building at 987 Ivy Avenue East in St. Paul, Minnesota
- Several buildings on the St. Paul campus of Hamline University.
- City Hall Annex (Lowry Medical Arts Building).
- Trade and Commerce Building, 916 Hammond Ave., Superior, Wisconsin.
- Paul Clifford Larson (10/1/1996). Minnesota Architect: The Life and Work of Clarence H. Johnston. Afton Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0-9639338-8-1.
- "The Evolution of Minnesota's State-Operated Services". Minnesota Department of Human Services.
- "Minnesota Department of Corrections History: 1984-1999".
- "Brief History of Minnesota's Mental Retardation Institutions".
- "Trade and Commerce Building". Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- Lehmberg, Stanford E.; Pflaum, Ann M. (February 2001). University of Minnesota, 1945-2000. Univ of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-3255-8.
- Larry Millett (2010). AIA Guide to Downtown St. Paul. Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0-87351-721-8.
- Gracious Spaces: Clarence H. Johnston, Minnesota Architect Documentary produced by Twin Cities Public Television