Unique Finnish Building To Get Major Work Done

By KBJR News 1

January 3, 2011 Updated Jan 3, 2011 at 7:23 PM CDT

Embarrass, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - More than 100 years ago the Seintanieme family built a house–barn in Embarrass, Minnesota – one of the few that were ever built in America.

Thanks to some local elbow grease and funding from several agencies, this historical building will get a face lift.

It was a building style that never quite caught on in the United States.

Typically made up of a house and an area to keep farm animals, many house–barns were built in a way to house animals underneath the residence in order to utilize body heat from the animals.

The Seintanieme house barn however is laid out length wise, which historical tour guide Mary Novak says offered a different benefit.

"It wasn't really the heat that was available to the individuals which would live at one end and the animals lived at the far end, but you could easily go from one end of the barn to another. It would just save time as you would work on your farm," said Novak.

After being on the National Register of Historic Places for more than twenty years, the Seintanieme house–barn is headed for a major restoration.

Paul Knuti is with the Sisu Heritage organization out of Embarrass and says funding from state and local agencies has already helped get restoration work underway.

"The kickoff for getting this work done really comes from the Minnesota Historical Society and the Legacy Grant Program, that's our starting point money, it's in excess of $60,000 and that will get us through this stabilization phase," said Knuti.

Knuti says many of the wood workers who have come out to look at the building are not only impressed by the grandeur of the building itself, but also the techniques used to build it, including multiple different types of corner styles used throughout the structure.

"It's very unusual: if Finns construct a building, the architect or designer typically had one style, this has got four," said Knuti.

Both Novak and Knuti say preserving Finnish American History is a must, especially in a place like northern Minnesota.

"Not too far to the north of us here we have iron ore mines where many, many Finns began their lives in northern Minnesota. So add Embarrass to Tower, to Ely and to Duluth and to Hibbing, and then you really have live history," said Knuti.

The Seintanieme Housebarn is one of seven Finnish buildings in Embarrass on the National Register of Historical Places.

For information on touring these buildings you can log on to the Embarrass website.