Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

Alex Seitaniemi Barn: Restoration Phase 2

  • Project Overview
  • Project Details
The north elevation of the Seitaniemi housebarn showing the restored north gable
View of the completed work on the south. This includes sill log work, foundation
The new sill logs on the south and east side of tbe cow barn and the restored st
North side of manure room and cow barn. View shows restored north gable, north
Straightened ridge on cow barn and replaced logs in the east wall.
Manure room restored roof structure and new beam and queen post.
Restored north header log, gable and manure room roof structure.
View of the restored loft floors.

Project Overview

Recipient: Sisu Heritage Inc.

Phase II began with sill logs being replaced, the stone foundation restoration work completed and the structure leveled on the cow barn portion of the structure. After the foundation was readied, the upper logs and floor structure of the cow barn were repaired with three new wall logs and new floor joists and beams. New flooring was installed in the cow barn loft.

The manure room loft was repaired with a new south supporting wall and both the north and south headers replaced. The four manure room joist logs which were missing or damaged were replaced. The existing manure room loft floor logs were returned to their proper locations and the fit adjusted to accommodate the shrinkage they have gone through. The missing floor logs were replaced and then they were all screwed down to prevent movement and make the loft safe for visitors.

The roofing over the east section of the cow barn and the manure room was removed and the roof structure was repaired as needed with rotted and missing members replaced. These members included the ridge, two purfins, five out of the six valley rafters, and some of the common and jack rafters. The ridge of the cow barn was straightened.

The structure was plumbed as much as a hundred year old log structure could be. A queen post and beam were added to the manure room ridge which will help support the ridge and help prevent the sagging of the cow barn ridge in the future. Roof sheathing was replaced and new corrugated sheet metal was installed.

The structure has been left in a weather protected state. The structural repairs ensure that snow loads encountered in Northern Minnesota will not collapse the roof and the new sheet metal ensures that the structure is protected from rain. Temporary siding has also been installed to protect the structure from the elements until further work can be funded.

The Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn, located in Waasa Township in Saint Louis County, Minnesota, approximately 220 miles north of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, is an extremely rare two-story log building that combines a dwelling, animal shelter, milking parlor and crop storage in one structure. Built ca. 1907-13 by a Finnish immigrant as part of a farmstead in this once-forested region of northern Minnesota, the housebarn, with its dovetailed corner joints, exhibits the same high-quality design and workmanship found in other Finnish log buildings in Minnesota. The building is one of three housebarns in the United States known to have been built by Finnish immigrants. The fact that it is log makes it more rare. It was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on April 9, 1990.

Project Details

To stabilize 10 structural elements on the Alex Seitaniemi Barn, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and used as a cultural attraction.

Fund Availability:

02/01/2012 -

Legal Citation / Subdivision
Laws of Minnesota for 2011 Chapter 6, Article 4, Subdivision 5, Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants.

Appropriation Language
Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants. $5,250,000 the first year and $5,250,000 the second year are for history programs and projects operated or conducted by or through local, county, regional, or other historical or cultural organizations; or for activities to preserve significant historic and cultural resources.

Funding Amount: $100,000

Direct Expenses: $100,000

Project Manager

Paul Knuti
Sisu Heritage Inc.



Subject: Historic Preservation

Administering Agency

Minnesota Historical Society

Board Members:

Minnesota Historical Society Governing Board:

William R. Stoeri, President
Missy S. Thompson, Vice President
Ruth Huss, Vice President
D. Stephen Elliott, Secretary
Dean M. Nelson, Treasurer

Suzanne Blue
Brenda J. Child
Robert Bruininks
Judith S. Corson
D. Stephen Elliott
Phyllis Rawls Goff
William D. Green
David R. Hakensen
Ruth S. Huss
Martha Kaemmer
Dennis L. Lamkin
David M. Larson
Charles Mahar
Dean M. Nelson
Elizabeth M. Nordlie
Dennis Nguyen
Peter R. Reis
Hussein Samatar
Simon Stevens
Susan Kenny Stevens
William R. Stoeri
Karen Wilson Thissen
Missy Staples Thompson
Eleanor Winston

Mark Dayton, Governor
Yvonne Prattner Solon Lieutenant Governor
Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State
Lori Swanson, Attorney General
Rebecca Otto, State Auditor

Advisory Group Members:

Historic Resources Advisory Committee

Mark Peterson, Winona (Chair)
- Executive Director, Winona County Historical Society
- Governor's appointee to Minnesota Sesquicentennial and Minnesota Humanities Commissions
- Qualified in history, historic preservation and history museum administration

Leanne Brown, Eden Prairie
- Director of Development, Carver County Library/Library Foundation
- Formerly, Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society
- Qualified in history, project management and museum studies

Jack Byers, Minneapolis
- Manager, Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED)
- Manages CPED's Preservation and Design Section
- Qualified in historic preservation, architecture, urban geography and planning

Tamara Edevold, Bagley
- Executive Director, Clearwater County Historical Society
- Active in Minnesota's Historic Northwest, regional historical organization
- Qualified in history, archaeology, anthropology and history museum administration

Ram Gada, Eden Prairie
- Engineer
- Active in the documentation of Minnesota's East Indian community
- State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB), former member
- Qualified in engineering, energy consulting and grants administration

William Latady, Tower
- Bois Forte Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
- Curator, Bois Forte Heritage Museum
- Qualified in archaeology, anthropology, historic preservation and history museum administration

Benjamin Vander Kooi, Luverne
- Attorney practicing as Vander Kooi Law Offices, P.A., in Luverne, MN
- Active in Vote Yes! Campaign
- Past chair, MN State Arts Board
- Advisor, National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Qualified in historic preservation, nonprofit and grants administration

Brenda Child, Minneapolis
- Chair, Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota
- Enrolled member, Red Lake Nation
- Qualified in history, American Studies and American Indian Studies

Nicole Foss, Bemidji
- Executive Director, Beltrami County Historical Society, Bemidji, MN
- Qualified in anthropology, historical archaeology, library and museum fields

Kris Kiesling, Roseville
- Director of Archives and Special Collections at University of MN Libraries
- State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) member
- Qualified in library and archives, digital services and history

Jan Louwagie, Marshall
- Coordinator, Southwest Minnesota Regional Research Center, Southwest Minnesota State University
- Founding member of Society for the Study of Local and Regional History
- Former member of State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB)
- Qualified in history and archival administration

Ann Meline, Saint Cloud
- Deputy Director, Stearns History Museum, St. Cloud
- Formerly Assistant Director/Public Programs managing Exhibits, Collections and Education Departments
- Former grant reviewer for Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Qualified in history, nonprofit and museum administration

Peter Reis, White Bear Lake
- President, White Bear Lake Area Historical Society
- Chair, Minnesota Historical Society's Grants Review Committee
- Qualified in history and nonprofit and grants administration

William Stoeri, Minneapolis
- Ex-officio member (president of the MHS Board)

Missy Staples Thompson, Saint Paul
- Ex-officio member (treasurer of the MHS Board)

Quick Facts

Project Type: Grants

Recipient: Sisu Heritage Inc.

Funding Amount: $100,000

Source: Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund

Status: In Progress

Appropriation Years: 2012

Recipient Type: Non-Profit Business/Entity

Activity Type: Grants/Contracts

Counties Impacted: St. Louis

MN Senate District: 5

MN House District: 5A

This site is updated regularly with descriptions and data related to Legacy projects funded through the Minnesota Historical Society by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF).
Further information about the use and impact of all Legacy Funds can be found on the Minnesota Legislative Coordinating Commission's Minnesota's Legacy site.