Fourth-generation stonecutter Michael Johns Jr. is continuing a legacy that dates back to 1879, when Joseph Carabelli emigrated from Italy and started Lake View Granite and Monumental Works. The company eventually became the Johns-Carabelli Co., which Johns now leads. Aside from memorials and headstones, Johns, who specializes in lettering, has also left his mark on the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse and the keystone of 200 Public Square.
The meaning of the company's history didn't come to me until later. I have memories from when I was in grade school, and I'd have a day off and convince my dad to let me come to the office. In high school, I felt like this was probably what I was going to do. I started in 1975. My first job was sweeping the floor and folding drawings. There were generations of family in the business. In some way, I was destined to do this. I'm thankful that I had my grandfather from the design perspective and my father from the actual carving-the-stone perspective. He taught me. It's a level of training that's hard to find.
Charles F. Brush's monument [was built by us], and now I've done the lettering on the more recently placed headstones on the Brush lot.
There was a period some time ago where taste was less important, but now we are seeing more concern and appreciation for the art of what we do. In Egypt and Rome, the stonecutter was revered. He was commemorating the guy who got commemorated. Those sculptures were done to last forever. The longevity and the permanence are awe-inspiring for me. — as told to Jason Brill