At Home: Joanna Taft's Library

An arts crusader assembles her own masterpiece with a collection of unusual heirlooms.
Harrison Center for the Arts executive director Joanna Taft unwinds in this cozy Herron-Morton Place retreat, where pieces from bookshelf frills to vintage trinkets convey a meaningful narrative.
Her husband custom-made these, complete with a concealed door. The books are organized into categories: history, theology, architecture, and art/cooking. She recommends A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of her favorite novels about city living.
Taft and her husband collect paintings of dumpsters, like this one in King Park by local artist Kyle Ragsdale. “Most people paint the beautiful buildings, but our lives are kind of gritty,” Taft says. “So we feel like these represent us better.”
She found this old-school library staple at Tim Harmon’s former salvage store, Tim and Avi’s.
During the restoration of her 1898 home, Taft found this old spice box, which was used as a safe, hidden underneath a floorboard.
She preserves a note from her husband’s distant cousin, President William Taft, in this leather pouch.
This coffee table used to serve patrons at the Central Library.
Old Letters
Some of these were written between her husband’s grandparents while they were dating during World War I. “At parties, people love to take them out and read them,” Taft says.
These 19th-century irons were inherited from both Taft’s and her husband’s grandparents. “Our parents intentionally saved everything from their relatives, so we’re trying to carry on that tradition,” Taft says. “It helps connect us to our relatives’ stories, even if we never met some of them.”