my house

This house was built sometime during the mid 19th century as a Norwegian Lutheran parochial school.  In 1898 it was taken down, moved across a field, and rebuilt into a house by Norwegian immigrant Peter Losen.  Two of Losen’s children, Helmer and Carl, lived in it until their deaths in the late 1970s.  Seeing how horrible Helmer and Carl’s living situation had digressed, their brother Fred decided to have a metal roof installed sometime in the 1970s.  Kudos, Fred, otherwise the house would be no more.

I found it during the winter of 2006 in a state of complete disrepair.  The neighbor kids had long ago thrown rocks through the windows, the plaster walls had failed, and the floors were rotting into the dank cellar below.  I disassembled it, moved it fifteen miles south, and now it’s my sweet little house.  Enjoy.




















































pooch morgan





































































13 thoughts on “my house

  1. rktrixy

    Really nice work, Paul! I concur – the most dangerous thing for a historic building is to remain unused. ANY way of preserving it rather than letting it end up in a land fill or compost pile is OK by me. And if you document the house before it comes down, and can research it’s history – all the better.

    Around here (N. Cal.) disassembly is primarily used for the re-use of materials, and moving the building is preferred. As most houses are stick-built, that’s not a (insurmountable) problem. I had a client who disassembled a water tower and re-used the timbers (15 years later) to build their house. Oh, 10×12 virgin douglas fir. Just gorgeous stuff. Lots of 4×8’s used for the lagging on the tower. All put to good use. I think they only had 6′ of beam left over.

    Our big challenge is earthquakes, as yours is wind. How do the re-assembled log buildings deal with lateral forces? Do you have any books to recommend where I could learn more?

    1. Paul Cutting Post author


      i anchor the sill logs with 3/4″ stainless steel threaded pieces imbedded into the masonry below and bolted above. does it work and will it hold the sills from slipping out? i don’t know. in terms of lateral forces, i’m largely relying on gravity and compound dovetail corner notching. the more weight you add, the tighter the building pushes together. i make sure to secure door and window openings with vertical 2″x6″ oak bucks spiked into each log course. i’ll occasionally peg log courses at door and window openings, too.

      there are few books dealing with actual log construction. most that purport to are fluff. in terms of norwegian log building tradition, check these out. the absolute best book dealing with norwegian building tradition is norwegian wood by jerri holan.

      Bakken, Reidar, “Two Museum Houses: A Microanalysis of Cultural Adaptation.” Norwegian American Historical Association, Vol. 32: 119.

      Henning, Darrell D. “Norwegians,” in America’s Architectural Roots Ethnic Groups that Built America, edited by Dell Upton, 149-153. New York, NY: Preservation Press, 1986.

      Jordan, Terry G. Texas Log Buildings A Folk Architecture. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press, 1978.

      Jordan, Terry. American Log Buildings: An Old World Heritage. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1985.

      Morgan, John. The Log House in East Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, 1991.

      Nelson, Marion. Norwegian Folk Art, The Migration of a Tradition. Abbeville Press, 1996.

      Perrin, Richard. Historic Wisconsin Buildings: A Survey in Pioneer Architecture. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI, 1981.

      Holan, Jerri. Norwegian Wood A Tradition of Building. New York, NY: Rizzoli, 1990.

  2. Lynda

    Thanks for the vicarious thrill! Not only did I enjoy your post but (1) I learned a lot about simple, clean, historic, beautiful rural architecture and (2) have a new found appreciation for what I would have previously seen as an ugly, abandoned house. Keep up the GREAT site!

  3. Seth


    Awesome work my friend! I found your site through Kent Griswold’s ‘Tiny House Blog.’ All I can say is that your work is inspiring to say the least! I can’t imagine that you haven’t been able to make what appears to be your hobby into a full-time job.

    I would be honored to have you build me a small home like yours one day.

    Thanks for sharing your passion with us,


  4. limewindow

    This is stunning!
    I’ve just spent a very enjoyable hour reading through your posts. It’s so impressive – such dedication; the wealth of information here & the beautiful pictures – I feel like I’m there exploring those old sites. (Found you via Cabin Porn btw.) It’s inspirational – speaking as someone who also loves old houses – your work is a tremendous accolade to those people who first built them. I’m wondering about the plaster which fills the gaps between the logs – by any chance is it lime? Fantastic work – I can’t wait to see what you do next.

    1. Paul Cutting Post author

      haha, thank you very much. yes, the mortar between the logs is lime and sand. i originally started out with a lime/sand/very very very light white portland mix, but with subsequent buildings have dropped the portland all together. it started out as about 5 parts sand, 2 parts lime, and 1/16th part white portland cement (literally just 1/8th a cup or less in a big batch). my recent mixes have been somewhere around 5 parts sand to 2 1/2 parts lime. i try to mortar on cold days and keep the mortar really dry, as it’s impt to dissuade the mortar from shrinking during curing.

  5. Ilene

    I am so excited to follow your work! (I found you on the Cabin Porn site) I recently inherited a log building that my dad purchased about 35 years ago. He moved it to our log cabin site on Horseshoe Lake in southern Minnesota and used it as a storage building. Our original log cabin burned to the ground about 10 years ago, so the log shed is what’s left. I’ve been thinking about turning it into my cabin, so your work is inspiring me! Thanks for the beautiful photos, history and obvious passion for log buildings!

  6. Jess

    Paul, what you are doing is amazing! I love to see these abandoned structures lovingly brought back to life, it is a beautiful thing. Keep up the good work preserving our fantastic architectural history. If I have the money one day, I would love to buy one of the smaller houses for my own.

  7. Emily Hogg

    Exquisite, Paul. The work of both a craftsman & a scholar. Do you have any particular sources that you recommend for further reading, or is most of your knowledge firsthand? In Canada we really lack for a Weslager…


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