New Book on North Mississippi architect Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson bookA friend from up in Panola County recently told me about a new book about north Mississippi’s master builder/architect Andrew Johnson. Johnson emigrated from Sweden to Evanston, Illinois in 1865, and came down to Sardis, MS in 1870. Many of his houses and churches that are still standing are listed on the National Register and are distinctive for their ornate and fanciful woodwork.

You can buy a hardcover book on for $62.99, but if that’s out of your range, you can get a pdf version for a mere $4.99. The book is filled with historic images as well as updated photos and descriptions of Johnson’s buildings, and it also includes a variety of newly available newspaper sources that the author Ann Johnson Smith Utterback, Johnson’s great-grand daughter, researched and compiled. Much of this is also available on Utterback’s blog “Andrew Johnson Architect.”

Here’s the book’s blurb on

This book is about Andrew Johnson, a Swedish immigrant who came to America in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. He migrated to North Mississippi. In less than five years he became a noted architect who changed the architectural style of that region by designing intricately detailed houses, buildings, and churches. Many of these structures still grace the landscape of North Mississippi over a hundred years later. Johnson built more than 77 structures, 21 of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. These houses and buildings are a testament to the artistry and skill of this Swedish immigrant. The book features beautiful photographs of the homes, churches, and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places as well as a complete biography of Johnson.

Categories: Architectural Research, Books


5 replies

  1. Even a quick skimming of the blog for which you gave a link is fascinating. When I was a young boy and youth in the Moline-Rock Island area of Illinois, there were many Swedish families who traced their arrival there to grandfathers and great-grandfathers who had been employed in building depots for the railroads. They included carpenter and brick-laying Swedes. ( Metal-working Swedes found employment at the John Deere Plow Works, among other agricultural manufacturers, because they had the knack necessary to create steel plowshares.)

    I suspect that there is a good deal of truth, in other words, in the story of building depots. A Swedish crew under a Swedish contractor may have started with Illinois Central depots and simply been hired by other lines.

    In any case, this is a fascinating resource to add here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John–I’m so glad you found the website and book interesting! I wanted to let more people know about Andrew Johnson’s amazing work.
    Thanks for the tip about the train depots. We’re still looking for more information about that time in his life.
    Ann Utterback


  3. The Ballentine-Seay House, believed to be the first house Johnson built in Sardis, is currently for sale. It is an extraordinary preserved, not restored, historic house that makes one feel he or she has gone back in time several decades. And I believe the front door is probably high on the list of most impressive historic front doors in Mississippi.


  4. I own the Hall-Roberson home located at 510 South Main Street, Sardis, Ms. It is listed on the National Registry. Number 84002298.
    It would be my pleasure to share it with all who are interested in this home through my website.
    I only hope that the next owner loves this home and this wonderful small southern town as much as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment on the Mississippi Preservation site. I have only seen the Hall-Roberson home from the street. It is a beautiful home built in the true cottage style of Johnson’s. If you have a website about the home, I’d love to see it. What is the URL?

      Liked by 1 person

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