Here’s another example of the forstue/stue two-room house plan. This largely unaltered house sits in Springfield Township at the intersection of old Lincoln Highway and Middle Calmar Road. Like I wrote about in the Haugen Hill House post, few examples of Norwegian log construction remain in the Washington Prairie community. This house is quite special.
The original two-room house measures something like 16′ x 24′. The western 2/3 (the main room, or stue) of the dwelling is of log construction and the eastern 1/3 (entry room, or forstue) is framed construction. Like the Haugen Hill House, the 1/3 framed part was likely built by extending the upper plate logs the whole length of the house (24′) and supporting them at the end corners with upright heavy timber posts.
What makes this place unique is how intact it remains. The exterior is clad in wood clapboard and all of the original 2/2 hung windows remain intact. 2/2 sash windows were common from roughly 1860-1880, but depending on the age of the house, these may have replaced earlier 6/6 windows. But I’d bet these are the originals.
The adjacent barn is massive. It was constructed in 1885 of huge hand hewn timbers and measures 36′ x 80′.
House bottom right, 36' x 80' barn center
Framed addition left, original log house far right
Original log house
Original log house: stue (log part) left 2/3, forstue (framed part) right 1/3
The Guttebo House was located in the Washington Prairie community in Springfield Township, Winneshiek County, IA. In 2010 the house was disassembled and rebuilt in Glenwood Township, about eight miles northeast of its original location.
The Guttebo House is really unique. It’s of the midtkammer plan, a building form that developed in 17th century Norway amongst wealthy farmers. In form, the midtkammer is essentially the same as the American I-house: The primary entrance is centered on the longitudinal side and opens into a central passage. The stairway to the second floor is located within this space. On each side of the central passage is a large room; the left a kitchen space and the right a formal living space.
The midtkammer plan was seldom executed in Norwegian-American communities. This is the only one I’ve encountered, but apparently there also exists one east of the Mississippi in southwest Wisconsin. The Guttebo House measures 17′ x 34′ making it the longest house I’ve ever encountered. No log runs the whole 34′ span, and instead timbers were spliced together with lap joints. The house was made of eastern white pine timbers and the corners are full dovetailed. The southern wall of the central passageway is built of logs whilst the northern partition wall is built with dimensional lumber.
Its former owner Les Guttebo is a pretty cool guy. Les grew up in the house and wanted to find it a new home. He tried and tried and tried to find someone to take it, allthewhile remaining steadfast against torching it. After a few years of searching he found someone who wanted it, and now it sits rebuilt and utilized.
Guttebo House: west-south elevations, log house measures 17' x 34'
Circular stairway in central passage
View from framed addition on second floor: notice the lap joints and the butts of the partition wall logs
Looking into and through the central passageway
West elevation: the back of the house