Anna Johnson produced and sold many delicately painted ceramic and china items, fired in her own kiln. At least one of her Tiffany- style lamps is still in use.
Born in Arvika, Varmland. Sweden, in 1881. she migrated with her parents to Manistee, Michigan, when she was 10, and later became a frequent visitor to this area at the turn of the century. Before her 1907 marriage to Charles J. Johnson. her artistic interests had been stimulated and guided by an older brother. In addition, she had some more formal, classical training in painting as a student at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. While her husband’s sincere interests in painting and music had long been characteristic of his colorful, bachelor life style, Anna reinforced and deepened those interests in him and for the entire town of Grand Marais. Interpreting scenes -and the relationships between people and nature- along the North Shore and up the rugged Gunflint Wagon Road, she left many paintings and drawings. many of which are displayed at the Johnson Heritage Post; others are preserved in homes throughout the country.
After a brief hospitalization in Duluth when she was 63 years old, Anna Johnson passed away May 30, 1944. Her entrepreneur -businessman husband followed her in death 10 months later.
Lloyd K. Johnson's generosity, along with his desire to honor his mother as a symbol of all area pioneers, has resulted in the present building, a near-replica of the original that was constructed in 1906. The original log building burned down in 1926 and was replaced with a white frame building that was used for years for a variety of retail purposes including the sales of Anna’s artworks. After ‘much time, that building was no longer used and became dilapidated - and was torn down. In 1989 Lloyd K. Johnson made his gift to the Cook County Historical Society with the stipulation that a new log building be built to closely resemble the original trading post and that his mother’s paintings be permanently displayed in one wing. Lloyd’s nephew, Duane Johnson from Duluth was the Architect, who worked with Glenn Peterson, a local contractor and Mike Senty owner of “Senty Handcrafted Log Homes” located in - Grand Marais. Lloyd Johnson passed away in 2006. In addition to the permanent collection of the Anna Johnson paintings, the gallery seeks to promote public awareness of the cultural heritage of the arts in Cook County and the North Shore through high quality exhibits of the work of artists and artisans past and present.
The logs used in the construction of the new building are Lodgepole Pine from Montana. Each tree stood for at least three years after being killed by a fungus deposited under the bark by the Mountain Pine Beetle. The interior was finished with a white stain to allow the natural color to come through.