Charles Johnston, whose father arrived in Richmond from Scotland, built the fine brick house in the first decade of the nineteenth century, ca. 1808. He named it Sandusky to commemorate his narrow escape. In 1790, while navigating the Ohio River on his way to Kentucky, Johnston and his companions were captured by a party of Shawnees and taken to an encampment near lake Erie, near a frontier settlement called Sandusky. A French-Canadian fur trader ransomed Johnston, who eventually made his way back to Virginia, stopping in New York to give George Washington an account of his adventure. By strange irony, a later occupant of Sandusky, Virginia, would also come to be held captive near Sandusky, Ohio.

With Mrs. Adkinson's wishes in mind, the Historic Sandusky Foundation was created, and a group of men, now know as the Sandusky Six, purchased the property and began the process of restoration and turning Sandusky into a preeminent Civil War site in Lynchburg.