Posts Tagged ‘barns’

The Vasa Children’s Home

Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Vasa Children's Home

15251 Old Childrens Home Road, Vasa Township, MN

When Hans Mattson immigrated from Sweden and founded “Mattson’s Settement” in 1853, along with other Swedish farmers, little did he know how his small town would hold so much hope for others. (He himself would become the Minnesota Secretary of State, serve in the Civil War, and become the United States Consul General of India). A decade later, after Reverend Eric Norelius founded the local Lutheran church, the true calling of the town began to unfold with the creation of what would become the first private children’s home in Minnesota.

In 1865 Reverend Norelius learned of four children in St. Paul, recently immigrated from Sweden, that were orphaned and in need of care. Norelius brought them to Vasa and housed them in the basement of the Lutheran church. Not being adequate for long term living, he was able to purchase 10 acres of land a few years later near the church, and in 1869, built a small house for the children. This was the first of four homes to be used for orphans on the present day land. In 1876, a second larger house was built, but it was destroyed by a tornado in 1879. The third home, built with-in the year, was destroyed by fire in 1899 when a young child was playing with matches in a clothes closet. The Neo-classical styled home seen today was built in 1899, soon after the fire, and is the final remaining home built on this location. It ceased being a children’s home when a new facility was built outside of Red Wing in 1926, but through it’s years has witnessed and cared for hundreds of children.

The Original School House

The home sat vacant for nearly 40 years, until a couple bought the home in 1968 and began restoring the property. It currently is comprised of 2 parcels totaling 34 acres of woods, pasture, and tillable land. Further improvements have been made by subsequent owners since then, including the grounds, expansive gardens, the addition of a guest house, and more. Today, this historic home stands as a testament to the hard work of many to preserve it for future generations. A few other structures that still stand and are original to the property include a small school house, barn and silo, and caretaker’s cottage. There are several building ruins on the site, too.

Barn and Silo

One of the original barns and silo still standing.

The home was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, along with the Vasa Township Historic District, in 1975.

It is currently For Sale with more photos and a 3-D interactive tour at the Property Website.

The second children's home built on site.
Second Children's Home destroyed by tornado in 1879.
Fourth children's home, circa 1900.
Fourth children's home showing an additional building, circa 1900
Photo of fourth home circa 1907 with school house in back of photo.
Fourth home with children, windmill can be seen in back of photo.

The Charles Schwartz Stone House and Barn

Sunday, September 4th, 2016
Charles Schwartz Stone House and Barn

38448 Exchange Street Rd, Ottawa Township

Nestled down a quiet country lane just north of Ottawa Township sits a picturesque property along the eastern bluff of the Minnesota River. Christened “Bur Oaks” by the current owners who have owned the property for 40 years, the eighty acres of land features a bur oak savanna, pasture land, and restored natural prairies. Not to be outdone by the beautiful landscape, the true highlight of the property is the restored stone house and barn. Both are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and were built circa 1875-1877 from limestone quarried onsite by stone mason Charles Schwartz.

Schwartz was born in 1830 in Buedingen, Germany, immigrating to America around 1833 with his parents and older brother. The family first settled in Pennsylvania and after a few years moved to Missouri. It was from here that Charles enlisted at the age of 16 in the Mexican War serving from 1846-1848. Shortly after the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux was signed in 1851, which provided settlement rights to much of southern Minnesota, Charles made a move to Le Sueur County with his family where he took advantage of a land grant of 160 acres given to him by the government for his military service. In the beginning, the home and out buildings were made of log, but Schwartz being a stone mason, took advantage of the natural limestone found in the ground and constructed the house and barn that still stand 140 years later. The property has remnants of the beehive lime kilns that he used to fire limestone for the production of mortar. It is said that his kilns provided the mortar for all the stone buildings constructed in Ottawa.

1903 photo of the Schwartz family in front of home

1903 photo of the Schwartz family in front of home

An interesting historical note exists for this property, discovered by the current owner in his extensive research about its history. In the journal of French-born explorer and geographer Joseph Nicollet, who chronicled his 1830’s travels in the Minnesota region, he noted the location of “White Rock” as a landmark on the Minnesota River. The sandstone and limestone bluff easily stood out along the river and was the site of exchanges between French traders, missionaries and the native Sioux (who called it Myah Skah). In his research he found the location of White Rock was apparently well-known locally, referenced on old land maps, and mentioned by a geologist from the Minnesota Geological Survey as being located “on the farm of Charles Schwartz”. Today natural erosion and vegetation somewhat hide the location of White Rock but the current owner believes its location is very likely the exact spot where a small cabin on the property is located today.

This historic property is currently listed for sale, with additional information available at the property website 38448ExchangeStreetRd.com.

Charles Schwartz Stone House and Barn
The restored house as seen today. The original entry ways have been turned into windows and moved to the western side of the home, to fit with the new historically sensitive addition added in 1988.
1903 photo of the Schwartz family in front of home
The family sitting outside the home in 1903, shortly after Charles Schwartz passed away.
Charles Schwartz and family
 
Some of the split rail fence is from the time that Charles Schwartz lived on the property.
 
 
Backside of the stone barn restored by current owners.
The stone barn has been completely restored and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Bur oak savannah, pastures, and restored prairies are highlights of the property.
The Minnesota River flows along the western boundary of the property.

Round Barn in Red Wing

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
Historic Round Barn Red Wing

Looking up into the rafters

The historic Round Barn property just outside of Redwing. I wrote a blog post about the property a few years ago when I was allowed to photograph the barn and grounds. The main house is new and currently run as a Bed and Breakfast.

Round Barn Redwing Minnesota