Bryan and Susan Johnston on the porch of their nearly century-old Ballard home, for which both have deep personal connections. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.
Ballardites' 98-year-old home more than just a house
"Everything you need is here," Bryan Johnston said about his 3,500-square-foot, 98-year-old Ballard house. "There is a room for everything."
He isn't kidding.
There is the spacious living room and dining room, complete with fireplace and original woodwork. The sunroom that Bryan's wife Susan used while making calls for the 700 Club and now holds a half-played board game. A former bedroom with its own private stairwell to the kitchen so the children could eat without interrupting their parent's parties. Another former bedroom, now converted into a dressing room with tiered walk-in closet.
Add to the house's interior accommodations and surprises, the views of Puget Sound from second and third-floor balconies and a double lot-sized yard, and it becomes clear that Susan and Bryan Johnston's home isn't just any house.
"The moment you walk in, you feel something," Susan said.
In 1975, Bryan bought the house at 8344 32nd Ave. N.W. from his parents, who had purchased the house in 1943 when Bryan was 6 months old. In 1976, he started redoing the house.
Now, 34 years later, the remodel is nearly complete. He has replaced wiring and plumbing, moved walls, added skylights and capped the house with a third story, all the while maintaining the century-old style of his home. The only thing left for Bryan to do is rip out the carpet in the living and dining room and reveal the original hardwood floors.
Susan said the house, unlike most houses today, feels like a home not a condominium.
But, it isn't just the physical niceties of the Johnstons' home that makes it special to them.
In 1969, Susan physically died from a drug overdose. She said she left her body, arrived in heaven and personally met Jesus. She asked him if she could return to Earth.
Nobody in her life had told her about God's love before that, Susan said. After four days, she accepted what had happened to her and her life changed.
Since then, she said she has been involved in local ministries, given speeches in California and Oregon and met a number of prophets.
The manifestation of Jesus she felt in her life also manifested itself in her and Bryan's home, she said.
"Almost everyone who's been through this home has had an encounter with Jesus," Susan said.
She said people started showing up to their home in the 1980s to 1990s, drawn for spiritual reasons, turning the house into Shekinah Glory Ministry.
"Still people will drive by or walk by and be motivated to come up to the door," she said.
Susan, who grew up in a small house full of aunts, uncles and cousins, does not take for granted her new home she calls a mansion.
"What's special about this house?" she said. "Just about everything."
For more on Ballard's old homes, take the Ballard Historical Society's Ballard Classic Homes Tour June 6. Tickets are available at 9:30 a.m. at the tour's starting point at the Sunset Hill Green Market.
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