When Apeks Supercritical owner and Johnstown resident Andy Joseph purchased a 50-acre property at 5574 Johnstown-Alexandria Road in late 2014, he thought he had bought his future home.

When Apeks Supercritical owner and Johnstown resident Andy Joseph purchased a 50-acre property at 5574 Johnstown-Alexandria Road in late 2014, he thought he had bought his future home.

It didn't take long, however, for him to discover the house on the property actually is one of the most historic sites in the village limits, if not Licking County.

Now he wants Johnstown-area residents' input on what to do with it.

The land once was owned by the local Almendinger family, and the house on the property was known simply as "The Lodge," owned by longtime Congressman John Ashbrook, who was in office from 1961 through his death in 1982.

The building was used for parties, political discussions and various campaign and fundraising events, as well as a getaway residence for Ashbrook, and the history has Joseph hesitant to use it simply as a private residence.

"The property is beautiful," he said. "There's a ton of history. I was amazed when I bought the property how many people came out of the woodwork and told me stories about being there as a kid or something."

One of the first people to reach out to Joseph was Johnstown-Monroe Board of Education President Ruth Ann Booher.

Booher worked for a few congressmen, including Ashbrook, and said she is passionate about preserving the building's history. She said she has more than 2,000 square feet of historic memorabilia from her time in Washington. Ideally, she said, she wants to be able to display it somewhere in Johnstown.

"For me, the opportunity for (Joseph) to do something with The Lodge again would be wonderful," Booher said. "I believe this memorabilia should stay here.

"Could I sell it? Absolutely. Could I give it away? I could," she said. "But Johnstown doesn't have anything like this. Maybe they don't care. But I care, because it's history. And I know it belongs back in The Lodge or on that property if it can be."

When he became aware of what he had purchased, Joseph said, he began pondering alternative ideas.

"Once we learned the rich history behind it, we thought maybe there's an opportunity to do something better with the property and kind of relive the glory days of it," he said.

That thought brought him to several ideas, including turning the building into a distillery or a winery. Those ideas likely would include a historical section of the building dedicated to items from Booher's collection and other artifacts.

The idea of re-creating the gathering space is one Booher said excites her.

"I would love him to follow his dream of a winery with space for social events back there so that it could once again be used for political gatherings, social gatherings and just be used to get people together," she said.

Joseph's plans still are uncertain. He'd like to do something interesting with the project, he said, but is still unsure of public opinion.

"One of the problems I have is that I know there's history and it's interesting, ... but is it only interesting to anyone who's more than 50 years old at this point?" he said. "I just don't have a great sense of, 'Does anyone care at this point?' It's really difficult to get a feel for that information."

Joseph is asking for some help. He invites any Johnstown residents who have thoughts on the project or a potential idea to send him feedback at his personal email address, andyjoseph12@gmail.com.

Although any project might not begin anytime soon, Booher said, she already is hopeful.

"Is Andy Joseph on the right course?" she said. "I think he is."