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JOHANNESEN, ERIC

JOHANNESEN, ERIC (27 Oct. 1926-20 July 1990) was an art teacher, historic preservationist, and author of 5 books on architectural history. Born to Rolf T.H. and Jennie Grace (Dixon) Johannesen in Louisville, KY, Johannesen, at the age of 3, moved with his family to Detroit. Following service in the U.S. Army during WORLD WAR II, he enrolled in Wayne University (now Wayne State University) from which he graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1950 and an M.A. in the same field in 1952. His interest and talent in painting led him to the position of instructor in art at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. In 1954, he moved to Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where for eighteen years he was professor of art and, for a time, chairman of the art department.

After twenty years of teaching, Johannesen sought a new challenge where he could apply his growing interest of architecture. In 1973 he came to the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY where he headed the first regional preservation office in Ohio. In this capacity his principal goal was to identify sites and structures that qualified for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Working under the aegis of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office headquartered at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, he traveled throughout the Western Reserve in search of historically-significant places. Johannesen also undertook a detailed survey of Cleveland's historic buildings. Johannesen educated architects, builders, city planners, and the general public regarding the value of preserving historic buildings, encouraging adaptive use rather than destruction. The paucity of readily-available information on Cleveland's architectural history spurred Johannesen to write his now classic Cleveland Architecture 1876-1976 (1979). It is the indispensible work on Cleveland's architectural history. It stands as the major achievement of a scholarly career which includes 16 major journal articles and 4 other books: Ohio College Architecture Before 1870 (1969); Selected Landmark Architecture of Alliance (1971); Look Again: Landmark Architecture in Downtown Toledo and Old West End (1973); and From Town to Tower (1983). Johannesen's career at WRHS included being editor of publications. Johannesen was also a pianist and photographer. He died in Cleveland, survived by 2 brothers. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.