A century-old craftsman connects two Portland members


Annie Johnston (left) and Karen Faunt in the living room of Karen’s new home.

By Patricia Andersson
Chapter leader, Portland


Annie Johnston could never have predicted that getting involved with our Portland Southeast chapter of DFW would allow her to once again visit the home where all her childhood family gatherings took place.

And Karen Faunt, long-time chapter member who’s also on DFW’s Program Selection Committee – as well as being the home’s new owner — would never have guessed that by hosting a DFW potluck, she’d be able to provide a new friend with a cherished walk down memory lane.

Nothing has changed. It’s exactly as I remember it. I can’t believe I got to come here again after all these years. It means more to me than I can say.

Annie Johnston

The beautiful turn-of-the-century craftsman home, purchased by Annie’s grandparents in 1929, had been in Annie’s family for over 75 years. It was the place where Annie’s mother and aunt was raised, where her grandmother lived until the age of 94, and where her cousins had resided for another 25 years after that. But once Annie’s cousins made the decision to move to the coast, the home was sold and slipped out of the family’s hands.

Enter Karen and her husband Robert, who saw the house and fell in love with it when it went on the market again this past summer. “We were thrilled to get this house,” Karen said. “The garden in the back had been planted with such care, we knew the whole property had been very well-loved.” They had been living in the their new home for only two short months when Karen offered to host our November DFW meeting.

So I sent out the Evite, and mere minutes later, I received an excited call from Annie. She told me how shocked she was to see her grandmother’s old address on the Evite! She couldn’t have been more surprised, and told me all sorts of stories about the family gatherings that took place there and how much that house was a part of her growing-up years.

Neither of us could wait to let Karen know about the extraordinary coincidence, and Annie arranged to come early to the dinner to see the house once again and share her many memories with Karen. Once our group was assembled, Annie told her story to everyone, tears in her eyes from the emotional reconnection with her childhood.

“Nothing has changed,” Annie said. “It’s exactly as I remember it. I can’t believe I got to come here again after all these years. It means more to me than I can say.”

Karen has extended an open invitation to Annie and any other members of her family to stop by any time and share more stories about the house with its new owners. “It’s wonderful for us to learn about the history of our new home,” Karen said.

On her way out the door after the evening’s presentation was over, Annie extracted a promise from Karen to let her have some of the rhubarb from the garden that her grandfather had planted once it sprouts next spring. “You’re very welcome to it,” Karen replied. “Come over any time!” With tears in her eyes once again, Annie bid the home – and Karen – farewell…for now. There’s no doubt that she’ll be back.