DuJour Magazine, May 2013

Sports Illustrated, 1976 

House Beautiful, August 1969 - page1  page 2  page 3  page 4  page 5  page 6

House & Garden, April 1975 - page 1 page 2  page 3  page 4  

New York Times, 1975

March 5, 1975 "People Preserve - A New Way Of Life" By RALPH BLUMENTHAL (C) 1975 New York Times News Service BEQUIA, West Indies --

Fishermen on this pastel-hued little Grenadine isle were amazed when Tom and Gladys Johnson of Chicago moved into a giant rock hole overlooking the Caribbean Sea. So was Mrs. Johnston.  "Tom is always full of surprises," she said, as the blue-green sea swirled below what would have been their front door if their home had doors, "Moonhole," she added, "was one of the biggest."  A massive natural stone arch that sometimes frames the moon in a patch of sky, Moonhole and all it has come to mean have surprised a lot of people here since Johnston presented it to his skeptical wife a dozen years ago.  In the intervening years, the Johnstons--fugitives from the advertising world of Chicago and New York -- have incorporated the curious formation into a multi-level cliff- house complex that affords the occupants a spectacular vista on Bequia {pronounced Beck- queue ) , a 7 - m i l e - square dependency of St. Vincent, nine miles to the north.  Since building Moonhole, moreover the Johnstons have gone on to apply the principles to a series of up to 16 stone and concrete Moon-hole homes looping and twisting into the hills in one of the most striking developments in the lower Caribbean.  "If I knew architecture, I wouldn't have put up a thing here," said Johnston, 65 years old, 6-feet 2-inches tall, husky, with a shock of white hair.  "There was no one to say -- 'Hey, you can't do that.'"  Belquians, both natives and settlers, who have not always made sense out of the Johnstons' actions, have seen their bemusement 'turn to respect, admiration and even some envy.  "Before," said Jeff Gregg, a local fisherman, "I couldn't believe anyone would live there. Now I wish I could afford it."  The couple came to Bequia in 1961. Mrs. Johnston, who is 50 had retired some years before as head of creative research at McCann-Erickson, Inc., in Chicago.  Johnston, who married her six years after his first wife died in 1949, bounced back and forth at a number of agencies before ending up as creative director at McCann- Erickson.  "I was writing things like, 'Turns puts the fizz where the trouble is,' " he recalled, sipping a beer on the stone terrace of his "office."  I wrote some of the worst commercials."  For nearly two years the Johnstons managed one of the two or three small hotels on the island.  "I spotted Moonhole by accident," Johnston said.  After convincing his wife, who, as she puts it, had "second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts," they were able to buy Moonhole and 30 surrounding acres between the Atlantic and Caribbean for less than $15,000.  To build the home at Moonhole, Johnston consulted local builders, who advised him that concrete slabs could safely span seven feet.  The original dwelling consisted of a series of rock and concrete chambers connected by stone catwalks and plazas.  After constructing their first dwelling in the Moonhole, the Johnstons went on to build in the same mode on other sites.  The 16th Moonhole home is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.  One furnished home was recently offered at $55,000 but the prices fluctuate according to the whims of the Johnstons. "Money can't buy nuttin' at Moonhole," Johnston said.  "If the Arabs came and offered a billion dollars I wouldn't sell.  On the other hand," he added, if I liked the Arab, I might sell for whatever he might pay."  The primitiveness is deliberate.  The only ways to reach Moonhole are by boat or foot after a half-hour's hilly hike from the end of the road.  "I'm serious about making this a people preserve," Johnston said.  Although Moonhole has many fans, not everyone is a convert.  Mrs. Johnston's father came once for a visit 10 years ago and has declined to return.  "We don't ever expect to' leave Moonhole," Mrs. Johnston said. "We're very self-sufficient here. And Tom is fun.  He's always full of surprises."  "Let me tell you something," Johnston said. "People always ask us if we're not afraid of turning into cabbages here.  But I made a fabulous discovery two months ago.  We had some visiting industrialists here and I was listening to them.  They are the ones out there who have turned into cabbages."