John Bower was born in Lafayette, Indiana in 1949. He graduated from Purdue University in 1971 with his Bachelors of Science in Industrial Education and graduated with his Master of Arts in Education from Ball State University in 1972. John began teaching at Kendallville Middle School, where he met his wife Lynn, whom he married in 1972.
In 1976, John and Lynn bought and started renovating their first home on Elston Road outside Lafayette, IN. While renovating the historical property, Lynn became ill with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), an extreme sensitivity to normally safe low levels of common household chemicals and substances such as formaldehyde, plastics, ink, solvents, and even synthetic fabrics. It was Lynn’s illness that spurred John to start researching healthy house design and building techniques.
John designed and started building the first of five healthy houses on Wiley Road near Bloomington, IN in 1984. After selling it, he and Lynn moved into his second healthy house on Shiloh Road, near Unionville, IN. The house became a haven for Lynn, who had difficulty going out in public due to the massive amounts of chemicals found in people’s perfumes, colognes, and synthetic fabrics. John also built a freestanding office for himself there, and was hired as a consultant for many other building projects as well. His third and fourth healthy houses were built nearby, and sold. He built his last (fifth) healthy house on 13 acres of wooded land, outside Bloomington, IN, and he and Lynn moved into it in 1997.
Lynn and John regularly corresponded with and were active in groups such as the Human Ecology Action League (HEAL), a group dedicated to healthier living, as well as support groups for those diagnosed with MCS. John and Lynn also corresponded on a personal level with people that wrote to them asking for advice regarding MCS and healthy house building.
John continued to research and learn all there was to know about healthy house building, becoming an authority on the subject and on many subjects related to it. He frequently spoke at conferences and wrote articles in many well known publications related to healthy house building and indoor air quality. While living in his second healthy house, he and Lynn began the process of researching and writing books about the art of healthy house building, and healthy lifestyles, and even founded the Healthy House Institute, dedicated to building and maintaining healthy homes. John and Lynn each wrote a number of books and even made a series of videos on the subject of healthy house building, many of which are still used by builders and designers today.
In 2008, John and Lynn sold the rights to all their books and videos and the name “The Healthy House Institute” to Allen P. Rathey, of Boise, Idaho so they could pursue careers in the arts.
Scope and Contents
This collection includes: papers, photographs, slides, videos, books, architectural drawings, correspondence, financial records, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, blueprints, and scrapbooks from John and Lynn Bower in Bloomington, IN ranging from 1975 to 2001 regarding The Healthy House and John Bower's personal life.
SPEC.061 John Bower and the Healthy House Records and Photographs