Monthly Archives: December 2012

German built one room house, outside Hesper, Iowa

This place is pretty special.  I visited it when I was about five years old with our family friend Leila Matter.  Perhaps my earliest memory, it no doubt had great effect!  Born in 1910, Leila grew up in this house and lived there till she met her husband Stanley.  Leila died in 2009 at the age of 99.  The house dates to about 1875 and was built by a German immigrant, a relative of Leila’s, though I’m not sure of the exact connection.

The house remained occupied till about 1940 and by some stroke of luck still stands.  The roof has failed and the logs are pretty weathered.  The original one room house measures 16′ x 18′, the logs are cottonwood (I think!), and the corners are all square notched.  Notice the sweet tongue and groove wainscot used throughout the inside.

Notice the vertical board and batten siding.  There once existed a small entry porch over the front door.

Notice the vertical board and batten siding and the now gone front porch.

vertical board and batten siding, cellar access

vertical board and batten siding, cellar access.  The sills are oak but the rest of the house either white pine or cottonwood.  They were very smart about not putting cottonwood on the ground!

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Inside attached summer kitchen.  Notice shelf (missing actual shelving boards) in red at left.  Wood storage box sits between shelf unit and window.  Wood was loaded into the box from the outside.

Inside attached summer kitchen. Notice shelf (missing actual shelving boards) in red at left. Wood storage box sits between shelf unit and window. Wood was loaded into the box from the outside.

attached single story addition

attached single story addition

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Cottonwood logs square notched.  Definitely not full dovetail craftsmanship!

Cottonwood logs square notched. Definitely not full dovetail!

Staircase with underside closet area

Staircase with underside closet area.  Closet is covered in old newspapers dating to the 1940s.  The house never had plumbing or electricity.

Doorway into single story addition, staircase enclosure, right

Doorway into single story addition, staircase enclosure, right.  No, barrel is not stave but metal.

Inside single story addition, looking into main log room

Inside single story addition, looking into main log room

Big feisty raccoons live up here.  The logs were limewashed and later painted a lovely light blue.  Unfortunately the roof has failed and the upper courses are rotten.

Big feisty raccoons live up here. The logs were limewashed and later painted a lovely light blue. Unfortunately the roof has failed and the upper courses are rotten.

Single walled chimney pipe fits through this interesting circular piece.  Notice the floor joist sandwiched between the floor boards and the ceiling boards below.  The joists are hand planed white pine with chamfered edges.

Single walled chimney pipe fits through this interesting circular piece. Notice the floor joist sandwiched between the floor boards and the ceiling boards below. The joists are hand planed white pine with chamfered edges.

yikes!  Z shape treads and risers.  Easy to climb, nearly impossible to descent.  The treads have 3" exposure.

Yikes! Z shape treads and risers. Easy to climb, nearly impossible to descent. The treads have 3″ exposure.

wainscot ceiling

wainscot ceiling

attached summer kitchen

somewhat attached summer kitchen

attached summer kitchen, left, main log core, right

attached summer kitchen, left, main log core, right