i’ve been driving around houston county, minnesota, a lot. it seems like i find an incredible number of abandoned buildings every time i’m up there. this particular house is pretty special. i think the photos do a reasonable job conveying just how lonely and exposed the site is. it sits on the very top of a ridge overlooking miles and miles of steeply cut valleys below. next to it are two, half-dead cottonwoods, each about eight feet in diameter. i can imagine why they abandoned it.
and it’s not too often i find a house that’s almost entirely original. if i had to guess, i bet it was abandoned between 1920 and 1940. no plumbing, no electricity, and only wood heat. most places i encounter have been extensively updated and modernized over time. usually the only way i can tell a house has a log core buried inside it is by the depth of the window wells. not this place. the first floor was plastered throughout (see photo of plaster and stenciling) and the second story logs left exposed. the woodwork is pretty simple, too: planed and sanded 1″x6″ pine, simple block plinths, and block rosettes.
this house nicely conforms to the akershus prototype, too. with two/three rooms– the larger room, or stue, with exterior entrance, and one or two smaller bedchamber and pantry rooms– the akershus was the prototype plan norwegian americans aspired to model their houses after. the original entrance door with customary side window was located on the north elevation (the side onto which the addition was built). notice the sole window on the north side right next to the addition? the original entrance to the log house is located just to its right, inside the addition. adjacent to the large room is the bed chamber, which encompasses roughly the west 1/3 of the original log building (roughly the area directly to the right of the left window on the south elevation, extending west (left) to the end of the building. just north of the small bed chamber (directly to your right upon entering the original log building from the newer addition) is the staircase to the second floor. this house does not have a cellar.
also of interest is the plank-like thickness of the log walls. log walls are usually hewn 6″-8″ thick, but this building’s walls are a mere 4″ thick. notice the photo with the notch and hand reference. why were they hewn so thin? i don’t know. unlike sawing in which multiple pieces could have been extracted from a single log, hewing a log to 4″ would have resulted in a lot of waste.