Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court

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Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court
Johnson House Lynchburg Nov 08.JPG
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House, Lynchburg VA, November 2008
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court is located in Virginia
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court
Location 1422 Pierce St., Lynchburg, Virginia
Coordinates 37°24′43″N 79°9′2″W / 37.41194°N 79.15056°W / 37.41194; -79.15056Coordinates: 37°24′43″N 79°9′2″W / 37.41194°N 79.15056°W / 37.41194; -79.15056
Area less than one acre
Built 1933 (1933)
Architect McLaughlin, James T.
Architectural style Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements, American Foursquare
Governing body Private
Part of Pierce Street Historic District (#14000527)
NRHP Reference # 01001519[1]
VLR # 118-0225-0077
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 24, 2002
Designated CP August 25, 2014
Designated VLR June 13, 2001[2]

Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court is a historic home and tennis court located in Lynchburg, Virginia, that was built in 1911 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Dr. Robert Walter Johnson (1899-1971) was a Lynchburg physician, the first minority doctor in the entire city to be granted practice rights at the Lynchburg General Hospital. In addition to his work, Dr. Johnson was a successful trainer for promising African-American tennis players. His American Foursquare style home, built in 1911, includes an adjacent tennis court on the lot next door.[3]

A successful college athlete, Johnson used his athletic skill and personal funds to found the Junior Development Program of the American Tennis Association during the 1950s. Stressing sportsmanship and discipline, Johnson trained stars such as Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, the first African-Americans to ever win at Wimbledon.

The house was also offered as lodging to distinguished African-Americans passing through the city, as blacks were usually denied occupancy from hotels. Guests included the famed Duke Ellington, Jackie Robinson, Lionel Hampton, and Roy Campanella.[4]

The tennis court where Ashe and Gibson mastered their art still exists, buried beneath the grass, but salvageable according to experts. The net posts still protrude from the once hallowed ground as a final sign of this property's finer days. Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, the house has fallen into disrepair. Dr. Johnson's family has repeatedly denied efforts from the community and its leaders to purchase, restore, and enshrine the home.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Alison Blanton (March 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court". Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  and Accompanying photo
  4. ^ "Virginia African American Heritage Program". Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Home and Tennis Court. Virginia African American Heritage Program. 2008-11-21.