Anders O Lomen-Gulbrand Olson Tuve House, Springfield Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

This house sat six miles southeast of Decorah in section 3 of Springfield Township.  I disassembled it fall of 2007.  It was built between 1856 and 1869, either by Anders O. Lomen or Gulbrand Olsen and Torbjør Salvhus Tuve.  A friend who studies dendrochronology at Cornell University in Ithaca is currently dating the logs, so in a month or so we’ll know the exact year the house was built.  It sat on the transitional boundary between prairie and forest, the place where the hills get more pronounced and the prairie more interspersed with oak.  The oak trees harvested for this house came from exposed, windblown ridge tops, the places where oaks grow really gnarly and slow.  The growth rings are really tiny.  I wish I had a good photo to convey this.  You can count back over a hundred and fifty rings on most of the logs, meaning these trees started growing somewhere around 1700, or perhaps earlier.  To get really straight, knotless trees, builders usually went to the valley floor for logs, to the hospitable climates where oak grows tall and straight, not to the ridge tops where trees grow slow and their rings tight.

The landscape that surrounds the house today is really bleak- row crops as far as the eye can see with very few trees.  It’s surely very different from the time when Anders or Gulbrand fell their trees.  The original core of the house measures 16’x24′ and highly conforms to traditional Norwegian building tradition.  The main room of the house, the stue, was of log construction, and the smaller room, the forstue, was built in heavy framing.  The top log courses extend out past the log stue through the forstue and are capped by hewn upright posts.  The house remained occupied until 1954 when a new ranch house was constructed a stone’s throw away, and since that time it was used as a hog house and storage shed.

I found the building in 2007 and took it apart December of that year.  Of the many houses I’ve disassembled, stored, and relocated, every one was threatened in some way or another.  Impending demolition to make way for a new house, a severely failing roof, or maybe the whole farmstead to be burned for increased crop ground.  But this house wasn’t really threatened; it had a good roof and sat full of useful farm stuff.  So, for better or worse, it sits in storage awaiting new life.

Lomen-Gulbrand Tuve House, circa 1900, log house is two story section, foreground lean-to a later addition

Gulbrand and Torbjør Tuve in front of house, circa 1880

2007, taken from similar perspective as first photo. What a hundred years does!

The 1880s photo of Gulbrand and Torbjør was taken in front of the half boarded up door

Interior shot of the second floor. Yes, that's a toboggan. The interior walls were covered in a wide gauge tongue and grove bead board.

The weight of engine blocks, lumber, scrap metal, and just about everything else you could think of caused much of the second floor to collapse into the first.

hackberry tree

farmstead from afar, house located to the right of white barn.


The house did not have a cellar and the rock walls the building sat on had completely failed. The bottom log course had literally melted into the ground.

Interior, first floor. Ceiling joists of drawknifed white pine with chamfered edges.

huge bur oak logs hidden under sawn oak siding!!!


interior log walls, likely covered from the day it was built


greek revival ornament- 15" wide frieze


full dovetail corner notching at location where log stue meets the heavy timbered forstue. 2"x4" studs were placed vertically between top plate and bottom sill and infilled with nogging of culled brick.


vertical post of forstue with studs and brick nogging


siding removed, log stue right 2/3 and forstue left 1/3


framing of forstue: plate logs of log stue cantilever out and are capped by vertical posts and tied together with horizontal timber































the house was originally not sided. to avoid ripping out the original windows that were isntalled flush against the exterior log walls, they simply scooped out the outside faces of the logs to allow for furring strips.





6 thoughts on “Anders O Lomen-Gulbrand Olson Tuve House, Springfield Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

  1. Louisa flaningam and Paul Brzozowski

    We have just spent two and 1/2 years restoring a log plank house on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Built about 1800, it was a mess when we got it but made a lot of progress in getting the house back to it’s origins. Also the full dovetail notching and about 17′ by 18′ in size. We totally know how hard it is to do what you are doing and the passion it takes to do it! Wish you the best and just to let you know there are people out there who love old buildings and realize that we all are who and what we are today because of who and what came before us. All the best…Louisa and Paul The Captain Timothy Hill House…web site should be up by mid June…


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