Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Franklin University permanently closed Urbana University in March of 2020.
This closure shuttered The Johnny Appleseed Education Center and Museum, sealing off its collection from the public.
The legendary American John Chapman, popularly known as Johnny Appleseed and born in Massachusetts, planted apple trees near Urbana in the mid-1820s.
“Johnny” professed and lived by a set of values that included generosity, humility, stewardship, thrift, entrepreneurship and caring for one’s fellow man – values relevant in every era.
For over a quarter-century, The Johnny Appleseed Education Center and Museum has taught these values to scholars, children, travelers and community groups from its location on the campus of Urbana University.
The Education Center and Museum housed the world’s most significant and complete collection of information about Johnny Appleseed. This extensive research collection was used by historians and scholars.
The Education Center trained teachers, provided educational materials for classrooms and published books for children.
The museum has now been closed for almost a year, stored in boxes.
The search is on for a new home for the collection, the education center and the museum by a small band of individuals, some genetic descendants of John Chapman, who have continued to work to preserve the museum collection, re-open it to the public and eventually re-start community programs promoting Chapman’s values.
A small amount of funding for this work has been raised.
More is needed.
The fundraising is a combined effort of The Johnny Appleseed Foundation (which owns the collection) and The Johnny Appleseed Society (which provides volunteers, activities and memberships to support the museum’s programs). The Johnny Appleseed Foundation has created a GoFundMe page. https://au.gofundme.com/f/save-the-johnny-appleseed-museum
The Foundation’s web address is www.johnnyappleseedmuseum.org where one can learn more, and make a donation that will help save history.
Donation checks may be mailed to: The Johnny Appleseed Foundation, PO Box 799, Urbana OH 43078
Sadly, this valuable community resource and attraction may well be leaving our community unless citizens and relevant organizations in Urbana/Champaign County are interested in partnering with the Johnny Appleseed Foundation to find ways to raise funds for a new local location in which to preserve the collection, provide enriching, values-based programs and welcome visitors from near and far.
For more information about the Johnny Appleseed collection, please contact Drew McLandrich, by email, [email protected]; or by phone, 513-706-2942.
Betsy Coffman is the president of the Johnny Appleseed Foundation.