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Keith Johanson

Featured Article

History in the Making

Keith Johanson wants you to bring the past into your present.

The old schoolhouse, a modest brick building off of Ellsworth Road, has seen a lot of change since being built in 1925. Just down the road is the brand new Costco and nearby is a coffee shop buzzing with customers. The only thing that has remained is the majestic view of the mountains in the distance. When I meet Keith Johanson, President of the San Tan Historical Society, in the bright sunshine, he wastes no time in pointing out the structure and its history. Information pours out of him with ease and an eagerness to share. 

Keith is not an Arizonan native and has only lived in Queen Creek for the last ten years. Nevertheless, he has a passion to collect and preserve the history of this community. He was drawn to the subject of history since he was very young and in addition, sits on the board of archaeology as well. As we walked from room to room, Keith narrated at every step. We toured the school room, walked past cases of ancient pottery, and artifacts lined every available space. 

It is clear that the museum has much to give, perhaps more than they could possibly display all at once. Keith says they even have tape recordings from 1995 of the families who first homesteaded here. The tapes have recently been digitized to preserve them for the future and according to Keith, they are perhaps the most interesting possession of the entire collection. 

The schoolhouse itself stands as a historical landmark. It served the needs of the children in Queen Creek and never segregated the residents from the children of migrant workers. As well as being the center for learning it was also a hub of important gatherings for the town too. Today it bursts with treasures and visitors can explore for free every Saturday from 9am - 1pm. The museum is entirely run by volunteers, of which Keith is one of them. 

The museum was established by the founding families of Queen Creek and many of them are still involved today. Keith hopes to improve and organize the displays further, enhancing the experience for visitors. I asked him why he believed holding on to the history of this town was so important. 'If you don't preserve the history of the past it is like trying to plant cut flowers.' he said. Despite the influx of so many new residents here, and the number of new buildings rising around the schoolhouse, the past still matters. Despite what feels like such a forward looking town, every inch of Queen Creek has a fascinating story to tell.

  • Keith Johanson