Big House, Allamakee County, IA

This colossal, solid oak house sits a township east of Highlandville.  Everything about this place is big- massing, the depth of the door and window wells, and the huge trees that were axe felled to make it.  The house measures 19′ x 30′ and was built in two stages- the original log house and a later addition.  Both were built of log.  The first phase house is a rectangular block measuring 15′ x 19′.  The corners are full dovetailed and the species of tree is all oak.  The original roofline ran lengthwise across the longitudinal side (the 19′ side), and the front entrance faced south.  The front door has a window to its right, and there exists a window centered on the west elevation.  The (likely) north elevation window was made into a door when the addition was added.

Sometime in the late 19th century an addition of massive oak logs was built abutting the north elevation.  Many of these logs measure greater than 20″ in diameter.  At that time, the original house’s roof was removed and a new one was constructed perpendicular to the original (running the new 30’ span).

I suspect the steep driveway cursed the farm.  The first lane to the farmstead was located to the east on a flat ridge top.  At some point the road that served the driveway was abandoned and a new driveway was cut off a different road to the west, directly up a super steep hillside.  Getting in or out in the winter would have been a nightmare!  Little remains of the farmstead, except a few wind battered eastern white pines, a fallen down windmill, the remains of a granary, and a half-collapsed garage.  The site is absolutely beautiful.

What makes this place cool is that it wasn’t updated and modernized extensively over time.  Except for the addition of electricity, there wasn’t an indoor bathroom, running water, or a modern kitchen.  The stairway to the second floor was found in the original house part, but unfortunately the log wall it sat against has nearly rotted away, causing it to completely collapse.

Sadly, the house is totally shot.  The photos from the second floor show extensive rot as a result of the failed roof, and much of it permeates down through the walls to the ground.  Documentation is what this house needs.



West-south elevations: original log house right half, newer log addition left half













East-north elevations












East-north elevations






















Facing west












Corner of original log house left, addition right















Inside addition














Location of stairway: very southeast corner of structure in original house part















Inside addition, facing southwest. Notice the nice hangers.












2nd floor, inside original house, looking north into addition















2nd floor, inside addition












Inside addition, looking south into original house



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