Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn

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Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn
Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn is located in Minnesota
Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn
Location Waasa Township, St. Louis County, Minnesota, USA
Nearest city Tower, Minnesota
Coordinates 47°42′25″N 92°8′15″W / 47.70694°N 92.13750°W / 47.70694; -92.13750Coordinates: 47°42′25″N 92°8′15″W / 47.70694°N 92.13750°W / 47.70694; -92.13750
Area less than one acre
Built 1907
Architect Seitaniemi,Alexi
Architectural style Log
Governing body Private
MPS Rural Finnish Log Buildings of St. Louis County, Minnesota, 1890-1930s MPS
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP April 09, 1990

The Alex Seitaniemi Housebarn is a housebarn in Waasa Township,[2] St. Louis County, near Tower, Minnesota. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Combining the house and barn in one building provided advantages. The heat from livestock kept the house warm, and constructing one building instead of several separate buildings conserved timber and the need to move it. The compact design also leaves more room available for farming and grazing.[3]

The builder, Alex Seitaniemi, was an emigrant from Sodankylä, a small village in northern Finland. He worked in Ely, Minnesota and later bought a parcel of land of 80 acres (32 ha). He built the housebarn in two stages from 1907 through 1913, with a two-story living quarters and the horse barn. Seitaniemi and his wife had a daughter and two sons, Bill and Knute. The farm produced hay, oats, and potatoes, and they also kept dairy cows until some time after World War II, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandated the use of concrete floors in dairy barns for sanitary reasons. Bill and Knute never married. Knute lived in the house until he died in his 50s or 60s, while Bill lived in the house until the late 1990s.[3]

The property was bought by Carol and Larry Schaefer of Ely, who were interested in the land for hunting. As they got to know the history of the housebarn, they became interested in seeing its restoration. They donated the housebarn to Sisu Heritage, a local organization that provides tours of buildings and homesteads in the area. Sisu Heritage received a $60,500 grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants program to stabilize the structure. One of the unusual aspects of the project involved stabilizing the foundation. Unlike many typical foundations, which go 6 foot (1.8 m) below ground level to avoid frost damage, the Seitaniemi building had footings of dry-stacked stone. This method allows the building to ride out frost heaves while still being locked together.[3]