KVUE — President Lyndon B. Johnson's boyhood home officially reopened Monday after weeks of delicate and intensive preservation work. The museum located in Johnson City is a snapshot of life as it was in an aspiring upper-middle class home shortly after the turn of the century.
Professional contractor Gary Dredla spent Friday carefully replacing wallpaper in the house where Lyndon Johnson grew up through the 1910s and '20s. Built in 1901 and renovated during the 1970s, the house has undergone several rounds of preservation work since its designation as a national historical park under the control of the National Park Service.
"Today we are at the back end of a project that has actually been in the works since spring of 2014," said curator Baird Todd. Maintaining the museum is all about accuracy and authenticity, and keeping everything in top shape is no easy task in a building approaching 114 years old.
"The things that almost always go are the soft finishes, whether that's paint or wallpaper, any of the fabric material used to furnish the home," said Todd. As mundane as wallpaper may seem, it's an important detail when it comes to historical integrity.
"The National Park Service found large and complete enough samples that were from the right layer within the paint and wallpaper layers of the home to bring it back to the 1920s, and those were reproduced in the 1970s," said Todd. "So we had to go back and get the reproduction paper scanned and then rerun and purchased more or less just in time to have it go up this week."
Between 85,000 and 110,000 people a year visit the historical sites in Johnson City and the nearby LBJ Ranch. With the 50th anniversary of historic civil rights legislation turning the national spotlight back to Johnson's legacy, Todd says they've seen renewed attention, particularly from filmmakers. When it comes to Johnson's legacy, the boyhood home is where everything began.
"This is the place where a president of the United States kind of got exposed to politics as a young boy. His father was a state representative in Austin and people would come over to the house and have political discussions," said Todd. "Young Lyndon would sort of sneak out of his bedroom and listen to the stories he wasn't supposed to hear as a young boy."
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