The house at 327 Steele Street sat unoccupied for over a year. And, although it was purchased just 6 weeks ago and renovated, it will stay “unoccupied” in the typical sense. Cheryl and Joe Johnson bought the house needing repairs and a purpose back in late May. Joe, a Frankfort High alumni, and Cheryl, retired from teaching at Frankfort High a few years ago after 36 years, decided that Cheryl needed a hobby of sorts. Less than a year ago, Cheryl had bypass surgery. It was at that time that she had an epiphany. First, she realized what was important to her. Second, she came to the conclusion that she needed a “purpose”.
Back in 1975 or ’76, Cheryl’s senior students began giving her wallets sized photos of themselves. She lovingly gathered them all each year, arranged them in a collage, and framed them for display in her classroom. After 36 years of teaching at Frankfort High, she had a wall full of these 11×14 collages of her senior students. After retiring, they temporarily resided in the cafeteria at FHS, now her namesake. Recently though, the cafeteria underwent some changes, and the dozens of frames with hundreds of wallet photos came to reside with her in boxes. But she thought they should be displayed for all to see – just not at her house.
“Joe is big into volunteering”, she says of her husband, “So he thought I should have a purpose after my open heart surgery.” They decided together that Frankfort High School, now in it’s 125th continuous year as a school in Kentucky, so rich in history and turning out successful graduates, needed a place to tell it’s story and a place to hang Cheryl’s graduate collages. I jokingly asked Cheryl, “so you bought a house to put around them (the photos)?” She laughed and responded, “God gave me the idea that there are probably a lot of memorabilia out there that could get lost. And there has been a lot already lost at Frankfort High School, that I know.” Their goal is to collect memorabilia from every era possible, even from the late 1800’s, if at all possible.
Her vision is to have one room as The Decades Room. This room is located just off to side of the front entryway, which is like a living room space. She’d like to have displays from each decade from Frankfort High’s existence to the present. The larger room on the first floor, lovingly referred to right now as the “geometric room”, currently has several different shades of green in a geometric pattern on one wall. They like the idea of the pattern, just not the colors. Eventually, that wall will be painted the school colors of blue and orange with some white and be know as The Sorts Room. In a separate room upstairs, will probably be the overflow from The Decades Room. Another room will be an office for Cheryl to tutor students after school. A larger room upstairs is envisioned to be a Conference Room open for alumni to meet in. There is also another room downstairs that the couple would like to open to FHS students after school as an Internet Café. A large kitchen is also located on the bottom floor.
The Internet Café as well as tutoring, will be made available to Frankfort High School students beginning at 3 pm after school. Volunteers are now being sought to help mentor and tutor kids. If you’d like to help, contact Cheryl Johnson at the Frankfort High School Traditions Center.
Their vision for the Frankfort High School Traditions Center is to tell the story of a school rich with history that dates back over a century, preserve and catalogue the memorabilia that they can collect from the public at large, tell the stories of those successful Frankfort High Alumni and help to inspire FHS students for years to come. They want these kids to envision themselves on the walls with their own success stories.
The Frankfort High School Traditions Center will be open from 3 – 8 pm Monday through Friday. The facility will be open to the public to view free of charge, but are now accepting monetary donations. They are also currently seeking the public’s help of the sentimental donation type. If you or a family member, have any type of Frankfort High School memorabilia (jackets, awards, newspapers, yearbooks, photos, etc.), you are asked to contact the Frankfort High School Traditions Center at 502-352-7490, or stop by their location at 327 Steele Street (on the corner of Steele and 4th Streets). You may also contact Cheryl or Joe Johnson at 502-695-4560 (home) or 502-696-1135 (cell). Mac Yocum may also be contacted at 502-803-5722 (cell). Mac loves all things pertaining to Frankfort High history, so dig deep into your families’ closets, basements, attics, storage sheds, etc. To download a donation form for you item, click HERE and HERE.