The Charlotte Observer
July 04, 2015
1942 lithographic replica of the Declaration of Independence on view
The Providence Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a public viewing of a 1942 lithographic replica of the Declaration of Independence at Hemby Station during July.
A special celebration was planned for Hemby Station, at 5025 Hemby Road, on the Fourth of July. Actor John Sexton of Monroe was to act as President John Adams and read the Declaration.
John “JB” Houston IV loaned PVFD the prized replica, along with a varnished wooden plaque of the U.S. Constitution, made by his mother, Betty Houston, a local artist and owner of BBH Arts and Crafts. Betty Houston made the plaque in the 1970s.
John Houston has a vast personal collection of historical documents and artifacts accumulated over more than 25 years.
“This is a great opportunity to show my support for Providence Volunteer Fire Department and share a piece of history with the community,” he said.
Houston said he purchased his copy of the Declaration of Independence from a Sportsman’s Guide catalog 25 years ago and kept it sealed in a plastic tube for 23 years before having it framed and displayed in his home.
This document is a replica of the Declaration created by Theodore Ohman, a Czech immigrant who used a photograph and copper engraving of the original document to design the replica. Copies similar to Ohman’s can be seen at Mooresville’s public library, and archived at the Library of Congress.
“We want to draw attention to our nation’s history while continuing to support a fire department that’s served our community for 61 years,” said John Houston III, Houston’s father and a PVFD board member.
With the July Fourth event, the Houstons have taken action to support the PVFD in a time of need. PVFD currently is pursuing legal action against Weddington for terminating its 10-year fire service agreement with the town after less than two years into the contract.
The Weddington Town Council voted 2-1, with Mayor Pro Tem Don Titherington absent, to cancel the FSA with PVFD and start a new contract with Wesley Chapel, during a special meeting April 28.
During the historical celebration July Fourth, the Houstons planned to give out “The Freedom Collection,” a book that contains copies of documents including the Pledge of Allegiance, the Gettysburg Address and the Bill of Rights, in exchange for $15 donations to benefit PVFD. Individual copies of the aforementioned documents, as well as T-shirts, also were available in exchange for donations.
The Houstons said they will continue to support the station and hope a new contract is struck, as the current contract is set to expire at the end of July.
PVFD Chief Kenny Schott said he was grateful the station could provide an educational experience for the community. “This is huge for us and for the citizens of Weddington, as we reflect on the Fourth of July and all that our forefathers fought for and achieved,” he said.
“We would love to do this every year – and we plan to be here every year to do it.”