Johnny Carson Birthplace Restoration Project in Corning receives $21-k grant


March 14th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Vision Iowa Board, Wednesday, awarded $134,642 in grants to the restoration of the Johnny Carson Birthplace home and a trail project in Des Moines. The grants were approved by the Vision Iowa Board at their meeting in Des Moines. In Corning, a $21,100 Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant fund was awarded to the Johnny Carson Birthplace Society Home Restoration Project, which is expected to cost $139,100. The grant award, which is the exact amount requested by the restoration group, is contingent upon completion of fundraising within 30 days. The project includes the full restoration of Johnny Carson’s birthplace home. When completed, the home will be permanently maintained as a 1925 period home with memorabilia of Carson’s life and career.

Work is set to begin this summer on restoring the home where the late night television icon was born. Johnny Carson was born in Corning, on October 23, 1925 and lived in a small home there for three years before his family settled in Norfolk, Nebraska. The makeover will make the home appear as it did in 1925. Beth Waddle is with the Johnny Carson Birthplace Society in Corning.  She told Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis  “When we received the home, many alterations had been made on the property from its original style and setting back in 1925 when (Carson) was born there, so, we worked with a historical architect who has developed a plan for restoring it back to that 1925 appearance.”

The home will also include memorabilia from Carson’s life and career. Waddle believes it can become a much bigger tourist attraction. She says “TV Land and Entertainment Weekly did a poll several years ago and Johnny Carson was named the number one TV icon.”  Waddle said she’d like to partner with other nearby attractions to bring more visitors to Corning. She mentioned the John Wayne birthplace home in Winterset and Glen Miller’s birthplace in Clarinda as examples. A Johnny Carson Gallery is located in a museum in Norfolk, Nebraska – where Carson grew up and graduated from high school. Johnny Carson, who hosted the Tonight Show for 30 years, died in January 2005 at the age of 79.

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(Ric Hanson – KJAN/Pat Curtis – Radio Iowa)