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This historic home was built in 1822 by Scottish-native John Johnston, who operated a farm here. The farm became famous in the 1800s for being very productive thanks to Johnston's use of drain tiles. The first American to use them, his success earned him the nickname the "Father of Tile Drainage in America." The house features six rooms, three of which contain period furniture and other items on display (some of these belonged to the Johnstons). The other three rooms feature exhibits on agriculture, technology and innovation, and immigration—all of which relate to the Johnston family. Also in the house is the Mike Weaver Drain Tile Museum, which features a collection of drain tiles on display. Mike Weaver grew up in Hammondsport, which is located at the south end of Keuka Lake, and worked as a drainage, irrigation, and dam building consultant. He began collecting drain tiles in 1950 and continued for over 40 years. He donated the majority of the collection, along with various documents, to the Geneva Historical Society in 1993.


  • The Johnston House was built in 1822.
  • Some items that belonged to the Johnstons are on display.
  • The tile museum features tiles dating from ancient times to today.

John Johnston was born in Knockknolling Dalrys, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, in 1791. He immigrated to America in 1821 and made his way to Geneva, where bought the property on which the house stands. He dubbed the home "Viewfields." Since the property consisted of slopes, there were many wet areas, which was not conducive to growing crops. To fix this situation, he installed drain tiles to remove the excess water. Johnston remembered seeing drain tiles in Scotland as a boy and realized they would be the perfect solution. He requested two pattern tiles from Scotland and gave them to a local crock maker, who would eventually make 3,000 tiles for Johnston. By the time he retired, there were 72 miles of drain tiles on the farm. He became a leading advocate of drain tiles and wrote articles on the subject.

Johnston's daughter Margaret, married Robert Swan, who came to live at the farm to learn about farming in 1848. In 1850, they moved into Rose Hill Mansion, which is located up the road. There, Swan installed drainage tiles and became a very successful farmer as well. 

"Johnston House." Geneva Historical Society. Accessed December 26, 2018.  https://genevahistoricalsociety.com/visit/johnston-house.

Pitts, Carolyn. "Rose Hill Mansion." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. February 06, 1973. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/0ba9300d-5b23-4a13-af2d-b87b0114ae4d.

Treichler, Bill. "The Mike Weaver Drain Tile Museum in the Home of John Johnston." The Crooked Lake Review. July 1994.  http://www.crookedlakereview.com/articles/67_100/76july1994/76treichler.html.

Photos: TripAdvisor
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47777-d8444960-Reviews-The_Johnston_House_and_Mike_Weaver_Drain_Tile_Museum-Geneva_Finger_Lakes_New_York.html