Place

John Glenn Boyhood Home

John Glenn Boyhood Home, a two story, frame bungalow house.
John Glenn Boyhood Home

Photograph by Nathalie Wright, courtesy of the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
The John Glenn Boyhood Home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The property is closely and significantly associated with Lt. Colonel John Glenn (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016). Glenn is nationally significant as a highly decorated Marine pilot during World War II and the Korean War, one of the seven original astronauts chosen for America’s space program, the first American to orbit the Earth, and a U.S. Senator for four terms. Although he achieved national recognition and significance as an astronaut during the American-Russian Space Race, Glenn’s boyhood home and hometown remained a touchstone for him throughout his prodigious career.   

After attending a succession of flight schools around the country and transferring to the Marines, John Glenn completed his training in March 1943. Now commissioned, he was allowed to be married. On a 15-day leave, he returned to New Concord, where he and Annie were married on April 6th. They married in her family church, College Drive Presbyterian Church, and had a short honeymoon at the Deshler-Wallick Hotel in Columbus. After having fought in World War II and the Korean War, John Glenn applied to be a Marine test pilot and was accepted into the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.  

On Oct 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent a satellite into orbit around the earth. “The competition between the United States and Russia, earthbound till then, suddenly moved into the heavens." Ever the explorer, in 1958, John Glenn applied for the United States’ newly formed space program, and at 37, he was the oldest of the seven astronauts ultimately chosen. Often, he was viewed as the informal leader or public speaker for the group. After ten pre-empted flight attempts, Glenn was launched into space on February 20, 1962. In a small space capsule, named Friendship 7 by his young children, Glenn made three orbits around Earth, lasting 4 hours and 56 minutes and totaling 81,000 miles. Due to guidance system issues, he had to manually operate the capsule, at various times during the flight. After Glenn had completed the second orbit, mission control became concerned that Friendship 7 might have a loose heat shield. If the heat shield would have come free of the space craft during the re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere, John Glenn would not have survived the intense heat. The only solution that could be reached was to not deploy the retro packs upon entry, as was planned, with the hope the heat shield would stay in place. As history has shown, it worked and Glenn safely splashed his capsule into the Atlantic Ocean.   

John Glenn resigned from NASA in January 1964, after nearly two years of promotional tours for the agency, duties related to the other Mercury flights, and assisting with new astronaut training and spacecraft design. He retired from the U.S. Marines on January 1, 1965, at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He ran for Senate twice before being elected in 1974 and served until 1999.   

Lt. Col. John Glenn had one more space exploration goal, however. Much as he had doggedly angled for opportunities in the past, Glenn wanted to fly on the space shuttle. He believed that there was scientific value in studying the aging process in space, and he believed that he was the right former, aging astronaut to do the mission. Once Glenn passed the physical tests and the scientific proposal had been peer reviewed, NASA agreed, announcing on January 16, 1998, that John Glenn would return to space. Launched on October 29, 1998, he (at age 77) took part on a nine-day flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery, mission STS-95. 

The John Glenn Boyhood Home is now a museum.