This home was built by a very successful businessman named Charles Johnston, and it was also used as the headquarters for the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Charles Johnston was 20 years old when he worked as a merchant, stockbroker, and clerk. He was on his way to Kentucky with his boss to survey some land that his boss had bought when they had some trouble. They were to travel down the Ohio River by boat and were warned of hostiles and to travel in the center of the river for safety. While making their way on the river with 6 passengers, they noticed 2 men yelling and asking for help so they went to the bank of the river to help them. It was a trap! They were attacked by 40 - 50 Indians and 2 of the 6 passengers were killed. Charles and the others were taken as prisoners for 5 weeks until the Indians took them to a trading post and village run by a Frenchman. Charles Johnston asked for help and the Frenchman took Charles out of bondage from the Indians by trading him for 600 silver broaches. He was freed on his 21st birthday. It took him 5 months to make it through the wilderness with some help from a guide.
Johnston was interviewed by President George Washington and the Secretary of War, Henry Knox. The men wanted to know what was happening out on the frontier. There were always struggles and strife between the French, Indians, British, and the Colonists. When Johnston made it back to Virginia 5 months later, he continued with his life as a businessman mostly within the tobacco trade. In 1808 and while in his 30s, he built his house in Lynchburg and named it "Sandusky," which was a Shawnee Indian word meaning "By the Cool Waters." He was then referring to Lake Erie where he won his freedom. The Shawnee Indians were the ones that held him prisoner. Johnston continued to work with the selling and transportation of tobacco from Lynchburg to Richmond and even helped Thomas Jefferson while he was getting started with the tobacco trade. Charles Johnston wrote a book about his captivity called "Narratives of Indian Captivities, The Captivity of Charles Johnston."
Johnston made his fortune in tobacco, but in 1818 the market crashed. Posterity went to poverty almost overnight and he had to sell Sandusky. The Hutter family were the owners of Sandusky in the 1850s during the Civil War era and during the Battle of Lynchburg. Ulysses S. Grant sent Major General David Hunter to take Sandusky and he then used it as his headquarters while the war raged outside the house. The Hutter's were made prisoners of the house. This went on as their daughter Ada wrote in her diary about the way the soldiers took things, broke many things in the home, slashed the paintings, walked in and out of the fine home with muddy boots, and ruined the fields. Ada worried about her brothers, as all 3 were in the Confederate army at the time. Finally, Hunter and his 18,000 soldiers retreated. The damage was horrific but the family recovered and the Hutter's lived in the home until 1952. Concerned citizens bought the home in 2000 for a museum. Now Lynchburg College owns the museum and students work there and learn about the area's history and how to run a museum. The Hutter family descendants donated original furniture to the museum, including an 1814 piano, which was the center of the home in those times. The home is now restored to its 1850s Civil War aesthetic. The entrance fees are the following: adults $5, seniors/military $3, child/student $2, and children under 4 are free.