Preservation of historic Dunn Co. farm underwayDilapidated and abandoned farmsteads are a common fixture on North Dakota horizons, but a group is working to preserve one in the area.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Dilapidated and abandoned farmsteads are a common fixture on North Dakota horizons, but a group is working to preserve one in the area.
In rural Dunn County, about eight miles northwest of Manning, volunteers and members of Preservation North Dakota, a nonprofit historic preservation group, are working this weekend to restore the Hutmacher farmstead.
Frank Hutmacher began homesteading on the site in the early 1900s, and when Hutmacher married, he and his wife, Veronica, built across the road in 1928.
The farmstead holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and has been listed twice on Preservation North Dakota’s Three Most Endangered Places list, according to a PND press release.
Tom Isern, a professor of history at North Dakota State University and Preservation North Dakota advisory board member, said one of the most important aspects of the Hutmacher farm is its representational architecture.
Constructed in immigrant German-Russian form, the farmstead was made of stone-slab buildings with clay and earthen roofs, according to a PND press release.
Roofs were constructed with cedar rafters covered by branches, straw and a mixture consisting of clay and scoria rock.
“It’s not just perfectly typical German-Russian, it’s like hyper-German-Russian,” Isern said.
Suzzanne Kelley, president of Preservation North Dakota, said the Hutmacher farm is the perfect example of how a family had several buildings comprised to make an entire farmstead.
On site are a house, barn ruins, a butchering shed and summer kitchen, a poultry barn and a garage.
The site also features a cemetery containing culturally representational iron cross grave markers, according to the PND Web site.
The farmstead was inhabited by Frank and Veronica Hutmacher’s son, Alex Hutmacher of Dickinson, until 1979 when he married.
Isern said that up until the 1950s, most people were living like pioneers in the area, but after the 1950s, living that way was “a little out of sync.”
Alex Hutmacher said he “enjoyed every minute” of living on the farmstead.
He said the home stayed warm in the winter with coal heat and was cool in the summers.
Electricity was added in 1961.
“We had telephone and everything,” he said.
Alex Hutmacher said during his time on the farmstead, little maintenance on the main structure was needed as cement put on the home by his father preserved things quite well.
Every three to four years, more dirt had to be put on the roof due to environmental wear.
Funded by Save America’s Treasures, a national historic preservation trust, Isern has brought a few students from North Dakota State University to volunteer their time to the restoration process that started up again in July 2009.
Some describe the Hutmacher farm site as “the best-preserved surviving example of the architecture of Germans from Russia in North Dakota,” according to the PND Web site.
While it is recommended volunteers register ahead of time, those interested can show up at the site.
Work on the structures is scheduled for 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. today with snacks provided.