Archive for the ‘National Registry’ Category

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.

The Burton – Rosenmeier House in Little Falls

Monday, July 25th, 2016
606 SE 1st Street, Little Falls

606 SE 1st Street, Little Falls

The Burton/Rosenmeier House is a significant architecturally  example of the Classical Revival (or Neoclassical) style in Little Falls and for its associations with its first two inhabitants: The Barney Burton family and later the Rosenmeier family. The home was built in 1903 by Barney Burton, the design coming from a pattern book by George Barber, a prominent architect who sold his residential blueprints via mail order to customers across the nation.

Barney Burton was the seventh of eight children born to Isaac and Sarah Burton, Polish immigrants, who settled in Peoria, Illinois, before migrating to Wisconsin. At the age of eighteen he moved to St. Cloud where he went into the clothing business with his brother, Jacob. In 1886 they moved to Little Falls seeking a better location. As the Little Falls community prospered during the “timber boom” years, so did Barney Burton who had dissolved the partnership as his brother moved on to other independent endeavors. He made is living selling woolen clothing and accessories to lumberjacks, expanding his business gradually into Central and Northern Minnesota. He married Sara Deutsch, of Minneapolis, in 1894, and lost her through death at childbirth the following year. In 1898 Barney married a sister of Sara, Josephine Deutsch, a life-long relationship which bore three additional children. Barney Burton, prominent in Little Falls area business activities for more than 50 years, died of a heart attack in 1942. Josephine died in 1953 in Baltimore.

606 SE 1st Street, Little Falls Interior Detail

Interior Architectural Detail

Christian Rosenmeier rose to prominence in the county following his graduation from the U of M Law School, as president of his class, in 1906. Initially settling at Royalton, he established a law office and married Linda Bakken, a teacher associate from his first vocation. They had three children. Christian relocated to Little Falls about 1914, following his election as county attorney.

In 1920, he resigned this post to become a vice-president of the American National Bank of Little Falls and the newly-established American Savings and Trust Company. The following year he became president of both operations. Christian and Linda purchased the Burton house in 1921. In 1922 he was elected to be the state senator for the area. At the time of his death in 1932, he was chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. His work in the senate included authoring legislation creating the C.A. Lindbergh State Park at Little Falls, and the National Guard Camp at Fort Ripley. His law practice in Little Falls brought him into an association with his neighbors, Charles A. Weyerhaeuser and Richard D. Musser, who jointly managed the Pine Tree Lumber Company and its related companies.

Christian’s son, Gordon, followed in his father’s footsteps. Graduating from Stanford University in 1932, and having been admitted to the bar in California, returned to Minnesota and went into his father’s law office. In 1940, he was elected to the unexpired term of the late Senator Fred Miller of Little Falls. Gordon Rosenmeier enlisted in the U. S. Navy Air Force in 1942, serving on the USN Command Staff in the South Pacific. At the end of his tour of duty, in 1944, he filed for reelection to the Senate, in absentia, and won an easy victory. He served successive terms in the Minnesota Senate until 1971. During his three decades of service he authored a succession of major bills which have left a lasting impression on the affairs of all Minnesotans.

Church of the Advent in Farmington

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Church of the Advent, Farmington, MN

412 Oak Street, Farmington, MN

There is nothing more lovely than a cute little church in a small town, especially one with red doors. Built in 1872, this church’s building style was suggested to the congregation by Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, and constructed according to plans found in Richard Upjohn’s 1852 book titled Upjohn’s Rural Architecture. The episcopal parish had been formed only the year before, and owing to the rural location and small congregation, the building was designed as a smaller version of  the All Saints Church in Northfield, Minnesota, that was constructed six years prior by Bishop Whipple.

Historic Church of the Advent in Farmington

The exterior is a simple version of the Gothic Revival style, also know as Carpenter Gothic, and clad in board and batten vertical siding. The small detail of  trefoil window on the front, as well as the small belfry, (not to mention the bright red doors), really make this church stand out. Three Gothic style stained-glass lancet windows line each side of the church, two of them being original to 1872 . The inside is much like it was 143 years ago, with its scissor-beam rafter construction and beautiful wood walls. The pews are original, also designed according to Upjohn’s book with small trefoil details at the end of each pew. The sanctuary was originally heated by a small iron stove, and illuminated by kerosene oil wall lamps. When I toured the church, my guide informed me that the bell, the first ever in Farmington, was made in the same foundry as the Liberty Bell.

Interior Sanctuary Church of the Advent

Beginning in the mid-1920s and lasting into the 1930s, church attendance began to decline, partly due to the closing of the railroad yards and families moving away. Episcopal services were eventually haulted, but the church building was still maintained by some of the original families. It was also rented out by lutherans who later formed the Farmington Lutheran Church.

Over time, different parts of the building have been restored, and additions were added in the 1970’s to accommodate the growing needs of the parish. In 1979, the original building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Today, it is a shining beacon of preservation in the small town of Farmington, and an example that even the smallest buildings deserve to remain among us.

Altar of Church of the Advent. Note the original kerosene oil lamp on the wall to the left of the altar.
The original Gothic chancel window was replaced by this round stained glass window in 1916.  It was given in memory of Dr. TenBroeck, who had died in 1913 after 51 years in the priesthood.
 
 
 
Rafter detail with scissor-beam construction.
Many of the original kerosene oil lamp brackets are still attached to their original location.

The William W. Smith House

Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Historic William W. Smith House

101 Linden Street SW, Sleepy Eye

When Major William Watkins Smith came to Sleepy Eye with his wife, Ada, they purchased property on the southwest corner of Linden Street and First Avenue South to build their new home. Finished in 1901 and built by the Steinke-Seidl Lumber Company, this two and half story clapboard-sheathed home combines both Queen Anne Victorian and Classical Revival (also known as NeoClassical) architectural elements, and is a masterpiece in design.

William was one of Sleepy’ Eye’s earliest bankers. Born in 1857 as the youngest of five children, he was raised on his family’s 600 acre farm in Oakfield,Wisconsin and graduated from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1881. After spending a year working at a bank in South Dakota, he moved to Sleepy Eye in 1882. At that time, the town was only 10 years old when Smith and his partner Clarence D. Griffith opened the Merchants Bank.  Over time, the two men earned a great reputation with local farmers and businessmen, and in 1902 converted their bank to the First National Bank of Sleepy Eye. Smith served as the bank’s cashier for over 50 years, never wanting any other title, and was also involved with the Board of Education and the Republican party.

WilliamW Smith

No corners were cut or expense spared when the house was built, with artisans, that were crafting local churches at the same time, utilized to obtain stain glass and exotic woods.  Two beautiful leaded glass doors open into the expansive foyer with 10 foot high ceilings, gas fireplace, and ornate woodwork. The formal parlor connects to a sitting room with a large bay window and three sets of pocket doors. It is easy to imagine how elegant dinner parties must have been in this home’s dining room being surrounded by a fireplace, built-in China cabinet, and crystal chandelier. As an extra architectural detail, each of the formal rooms feature a different inlaid floor pattern. The original library, with built-in book shelves, fireplace, and Steuben light fixture serves today as an office and reading room.

101 Linden St SW, Sleepy Eye

The grand staircase still retains an original Tiffany newel post fixture as well as three beautiful stained glass windows at the first landing. The second floor features a master suite, three guest rooms, and three full baths. Varying wood species are used throughout the home including quarter-sawn red oak and American chestnut. Additional historic elements include working servant’s call box, transom windows, and many original light fixtures. A servant’s staircase leads to the finished third floor, currently serving as the owner’s suite with living room, office, bedroom, walk-in closet, and bath.

The Carriage House was used to store the Smith carriages and the horses. Horses were boarded in what is now the Box Stall bedroom on the first floor. It is reported that Smith owned the first automobile in Sleepy Eye and shortly after, the Carriage House was converted to a garage. In the late 1990’s the Carriage House was converted to guest rooms, now featuring a bedroom and living room/dining room space on the first floor, and a spacious bedroom suite with 2-person whirlpool tub on the second floor.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is much the same as when it was first built, with a few exceptions, and an amazing restoration. Currently operating as the W.W. Smith Inn the home is For Sale with additional information at the property website.

 

The Historic Thompson House in Barnesville

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Located in the small town of Barnesville on the western fringe of Minnesota, and just 30 miles from Fargo, lies a beautiful historic home on almost 5 acres of land. Built in 1903 for Peter and Hannah Thompson, the home was designed by the Hancock Brothers, one of North Dakota’s most prominent architectural firms. It is historically significant as the only surviving property in Barnesville associated with the Thompson family, commonly known as the “founders” of Barnesville, and is locally a rare example of the Classical Revival style (also known as Neoclassical), not to mention one of the last remaining homes designed by the Hancock Brothers in Minnesota. Remnants of the original carriage house foundation can still be found behind the home.

The Thompson House Barnesville, MN

361 2nd Street NE, Barnesville, MN

Peter E. Thompson was a mercantile store clerk for George Barnes in 1878, a businessman who opened the first grain collection center years before 7 miles outside of present day Barnesville. By 1880, Thompson owned the store and it quickly became the core of the settlement of Barnesville. As Barnesville grew, Peter Thompson emerged as a prominent leader. He served as the first postmaster from 1878 to 1885 and was elected the first justice in 1881. In 1889 he became the first Mayor and in 1891, Thompson was elected to the Minnesota legislature and served two terms. Needless to say, he made a lot of “firsts” for Barnesville.

Sadly, two years after moving into their new home, Peter died at the age of 52. Hannah lived at the home until her death in 1920. They had seven children and were known to be very generous, often taking employees or ministers and their families into their home. They also donated real estate for the first school, a local park, and two churches. Two of the Thompson boys owned the home following Hannah’s death, the last living there until 1975.

361 2nd Street NE Interior

Fireplace and Staircase

The current owners have been renovating the home and property for several years. Most of the first floor woodwork has been restored, a painstaking process of stripping, sanding, and re-staining the floors, decorative trim, doors, and elaborate staircase.  The original dumbwaiter is still present, and there is a small ladder in the attic leading to the widow’s walk. For the kid in all of us, the third story bedrooms feature small doors and windows leading to “secret passages” between each room.

The home is currently For Sale with additional information located at the property website.

In 1996, the home was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. The photos below are from the 1993 application and show how the home looked when it still had the second floor balustrade and roof widow’s walk balustrade.