The Bigler House is located in Pleasant Township, Winneshiek County, about twelve miles northeast of Decorah. It was built sometime in the middle of the 19th century by Norwegian immigrants and is of the sval plan. The sval plan essentially consists of a main log block (three rooms, in this case) with an attached entry porch (sval). The sval was the primary entrance to the dwelling, was unheated, and had a stairway to the second floor. To get to the second floor you’d have to enter the unheated space and climb the staircase back into the heated space. The sval was basically what we’d think of a foyer as being today, except that it was sealed off from the rest of the (heated) house. This is the only sval plan house I’ve encountered in Northeast Iowa, but apparently there remain a few in Southeast Minnesota and Southwest Wisconsin.
The Bigler House was abandoned circa 1915 and has sat empty and unaltered since then. As a result, nearly all of the original 19th century historic fabric remains, making it (unquestionably) the best preserved log house in all of Northeast Iowa. Its owners understand its importance– both to their family and the larger community– and have done a commendable job keeping it up.