Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Astronaut's home takes ride

Ohio to have Glenn museum

By Joe Milicia
The Associated Press

        NEW CONCORD, Ohio — The house where John Glenn built model airplanes as a boy traveled to the center of his hometown Monday, where it is to become a museum.

        Mr. Glenn — who became a Marine fighter pilot, then astronaut and U.S. senator — talked with students and old friends as he watched a flatbed truck crawl along, carrying the two-story white frame house his father built in the 1920s.

        “You have a lot of emotion, when you see the house you grew up in coming down the road,” Mr. Glenn said.

        He became the first American to orbit the Earth, on Feb. 20, 1962. In 1998, at age 77, he returned to space on the shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest space traveler in history.

        Later that year, the Democrat retired from the Senate after representing Ohio for 24 years.

        About 500 people gathered downtown on a sunny, but cold and windy morning to watch the transfer, which took about two hours.

        The nine-room house, which the Glenns donated to Muskingum College in 1999, looked like an oversized parade float as it trav eled through the village's tree-lined downtown. It was moved from Friendship Drive — named after Mr. Glenn orbited Earth in the capsule Friendship 7 — to Main Street.

        Its new neighbor is a former car dealership that will be torn down to make room for an eventual space exploration complex.

        The house will be restored to the way it looked during Mr. Glenn's boyhood in the 1930s and become a museum that will tell 20th century American history through the lives of Mr. Glenn and his wife, Annie, organizers say.

        Mrs. Glenn has served on the advisory boards of numerous child abuse and speech and hearing organizations. After she learned to manage a severe stuttering problem, the Annie Glenn Award was created to honor individuals who overcome a communication disorder.

        Mr. Glenn, 79, said he and his wife don't feel they should have a museum built in their honor, but they are glad the house will be used to educate and inspire children.

        Born in nearby Cambridge in 1921, Mr. Glenn moved two years later to New Concord, where he would show a fascination with science.

        “I was interested in building model airplanes back in those days. ... I had half a dozen of those always hanging from the ceiling of my room,” Mr. Glenn said.

        He said he was thinking Monday morning of what his father and mother would have thought of the house being moved downtown. He said they too would have approved if the purpose was educating children.

        The street was full of people who had ties to the Glenns or their families, such as the Rev. Harold Kaser, 81, who played on the Muskingum football team's offensive line with Mr. Glenn, and led an all-night prayer session when Mr. Glenn returned to space a few years ago.

        “I think John would be ready to go back a third time, if he had the chance. But Annie would put her foot down,” he said. “I always said Annie was 55 percent of the equation.”

        Ryan Miller Sr., wearing a maroon John Glenn High School jacket, said moving the house downtown will allow more people to see it and learn about the Glenns.

        “It's just really amazing that someone like John Glenn could come from a small town like this,” he said.

        New Concord is a city of about 2,100 people 70 miles east of Columbus. The Glenns began dating when they were classmates at Muskingum.


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