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Archibald Johnston

  • Civic Leader
  • Trustee of Moravian College and Theological Seminary
  • Industrialist

Archibald Johnston (1865 - 1948):

Archibald Johnston

Archibald Johnston was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, on May 30, 1865, the fourth child in a family of ten. His family moved to Bethlehem where he attended the public schools graduated from high school at fifteen. He then received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1889 and in that same year he began work at the Bethlehem Iron Company. There he was put in charge of building and operating the first gun forging plant in the country and the first armor plate department.

In 1891, he married Estelle S. Borhek of Bethlehem. They had two children.

After Bethlehem Steel Company was formed in 1899, Johnston became assistant general superintendent. In 1906, Charles Schwab appointed him president. He was later made first vice president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He retired from Bethlehem Steel in 1927.

An active civic leader, Johnston was instrumental in the campaign to construct the Hill-to-Hill Bridge that connected the two boroughs of the city and became the first Mayor of the City of Bethlehem in 1918. He was an active Moravian layperson and he was a trustee of Moravian College and Theological Seminary for forty-five years. In April, 1943, during what some have called Moravian's "darkest hour," there was grave doubt about the future of Moravian College and Theological Seminary. Archibald Johnston's eloquent words of faith and vision convinced his fellow trustees to keep the school open in spite of deficit spending. This decision marked a turnaround for Moravian, which resulted in unprecedented growth over the next fifty years.

He died February 1, 1948 in his home, Camel Hump Farms, at the age of eighty-three. 

Johnston Hall:

The field house, dedicated in December 1952 as "College Hall," contained three regulation-size tennis and basketball courts, a corrective exercise room, handball courts, locker rooms and three classrooms. The main basketball court seated 1800 spectators on rollaway bleachers as well as floor seating that increased the capacity to 3000 for concerts or convocations. On October 23, 1958, the field house was rededicated as Archibald Johnston Hall. Renovations in 1998 included a new floor in the main court, new roof and the addition of air-conditioning.