Heritage Village, East Grand Forks, Minnesota

Heritage Village Buildings

Amundson Barn

This beautiful barn was built in 1918, on the Amundson farm located 5 miles northeast of town. It was built by a Swedish Immigrant named Mr. Kelly. It was donated to the Willing Workers 4-H group in 2005. The 4-H’ers started raising money in 2001 for this project and worked with the community for it to come alive. After literally hundreds of volunteer hours by the 4-H’ers, and friends of the 4-H’ers, the barn was finally moved on Nov. 9, 2005.   The massive size of the barn (36 x 80 and 40 ft. high) made it quite a spectacle as it was moved across country to its present location. The summer of 2006 was spent squaring up the walls, building stalls, and painting the entire barn with red paint and white trim.

Amundson Building (classroom and tool shed)

The tool shed is a “gift” from the Amundson family.  It was moved on to the grounds July 2008.  The tool shed is used for restoration projects and the attached classroom is used by community organizations.

Bob Barrett Building: named after a past Heritage Foundation president and used for tractor storage.

Russ Beier and Cliff Hagen Buildings 

The Beier building houses a kitchen, an eating area and exhibits. It was built by the Northland Technical College carpentry classes.  The Hagen building is home to many antique tractors.

Blacksmith Shop

The Blacksmith Shop was built by the Coon and Crockett Club of East Grand Forks.  Make sure you take time to read the “Village Blacksmith" poem on the door.  It explains how the shop was the center of activity for a village.

General Store

The general store is the original Hanson-Maves building, which was part of the East Grand Forks business district. The building was built in 1902. Rick Bergley and Curtis Berg donated it to the Heritage Village in 1985. 

Granville Church

The Granville Church was built in Granville, a tiny community two miles South of Oslo, MN, in 1895. It was moved to Heritage Village on July 14, 1984. The church and tall steeple is one of the oldest churches in the area.  It can be seen for miles and has become a landmark for our community.  The church was recently resided, and the windows and front steps were replaced.  

Landon Building

Jack Dempsey Landon, longtime resident of East Grand Forks, lost his home in the flood of 1997. After the flood he donated his garage to the Heritage Village where it is used for equipment restoration.

Memorial Garden/Flagpole

In 2008 the memorial garden was built in memory of our founding fathers. Large granite benches surround the garden and a large brick planter is nested in the center of the garden; a quiet place to spend time remembering those that are no longer with us.

Nisbet Farmstead

The log cabin, barn, and granary, located on the Heritage grounds were built by David Nisbet, and James Lee with the help of other neighbors, on his land 1-1/2 miles East of Mallory, MN, in 1871.  David Nisbet, who never married, homesteaded the land. David passed away in 1878.  James Lee and Christina Nesbit came from Lanark Ontario, Canada with their family of 10 in 1879, purchasing the land in 1885.  It stayed in the Lee family until 1943, when Mrs. George Lee sold it to John and Grace Peterson in 1944. In 1977, Mrs. Grace Peterson donated these buildings to the Chamber of Commerce in East Grand Forks to be moved to Heritage Village. Construction was done by Harry Tack Brothers, Agsco, Simplot, Nisbet Farms, EGF Lion’s Club, Valley Lumber, and the EGF Area Vocational Technical Institute. A few of the logs were replaced at Bob Pape’s farm with Mel Johnson cutting the lumber at his sawmill. 

Heritage Village is proud to say that the descendants of the Nisbet and Lee family spend a lot of time keeping the cabin in top repair: Elaine Lee Olson, Betty McVeety Nisbet, Helen Nisbet and Jean Nisbet Roberts.


The sawmill was made by R. R. Howell & Co. and is a Model #5. The sawmill had been owned by Ole Bang, a bonanza farmer 2 1/2 miles South of Oslo, MN, the biggest farmer in the area (about 4400 acres).  He used the sawmill to cut timber on his farm.  The lumber was used to build his farm buildings. The sawmill uses a 48" diameter carbide tipped blade which spins around 550 rpm. The carriage which holds the timber utilizes 3 separate locks to hold the log in place and can cut 20' long timber. This particular saw requires a 4-person crew minimum. The sawyer who controls the speed of the log as it is fed into the saw blade, a carriage operator/rider who ensures the log is safely clamped into place for going through the blade, another person to remove the cut timber from the sawmill after each pass through the saw blade, and a "tractor" operator who watches the whole operation and can stop the saw blade and carriage from moving if there is danger seen or instructed to do so by the sawyer.  Currently the sawmill is used by Heritage Village volunteers to saw timber for new and restoration building projects.

School House

The log schoolhouse was located on Mr. Harry Tack’s property just south of Oslo, MN.  It was built in the 1800’s as a settler’s cabin and used for a couple years as a schoolhouse.  There are many interesting books, maps, and school equipment in this building. Make sure to check out the rules for the teachers in 1915.

The main goal of schools during the early settlement era was to teach children to read and write. Most pioneer schools held classes from mid-November to April, after the fall harvest and before the spring planting. Students ranged in age from 4 to 21, and students were often all together in a single classroom with the younger students sitting in the front desks and the older students in the back. The boys often sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other side. Students began their studies of reading, writing, and arithmetic at lower levels and progressed through these levels at their own pace, depending on how regularly they could attend school. American history and geography were also taught, as it was important for the students to learn about the United States. Often the older children helped teach the younger children. Many children quit school after they had learned to read. Many early pioneer schools did not have writing paper. Rather, the students wrote on slates which were erased by using either a damp cloth or a block of wood covered in sheepskin. The older students wrote with a pen dipped in ink. Learning for the students usually meant memorizing and reciting. They memorized grammar rules and arithmetic tables, recited history dates, practiced penmanship, read aloud, and competed in spelling bees.

            The teacher worked with one or two students at a time or in small groups while the others studied by themselves or were tutored by the older students. Many teachers used songs and rhymes to teach grammar, spelling, and arithmetic. In addition, games were played to make learning more fun. Primers (textbooks) taught young children to learn their alphabet, spelling, numbers, and to read through simple rhymes. As students advanced, stories and famous speeches and poems were included. In the 1800s, teachers were expected to teach good morals to their students. Through their studies, good morals of promoting hard work, honesty, charity, and proper manners were taught. Teachers were often strict, and they sometimes disciplined by hitting unruly students with a ruler or a small tree branch called a switch or embarrassing them in front of the class through a variety of means.

Adapted from: Early Settlement of North Dakota J1 Copyright © 2007 by the North Dakota Center for Distance Education.

Sherlock House

The Sherlock house is one of the oldest houses in East Grand Forks, MN. It was built after the flood of 1897, on the only dry spot, the corner of 4th St. and 3rd  Ave. NW.  It was one of the first houses to have electricity. Jack Sherlock was a prominent lawyer and judge. Mr. Sherlock was instrumental in bringing American Crystal Sugar to East Grand Forks. Sherlock Park was named in his honor. The Sherlock house was moved to the Heritage Village grounds after the flood of 1997.  (Take note of the two dates?  100 yr. flood?) The Sherlock House holds a special place in our hearts as a monument to our heritage and the floods of 1897 and 1997.    

The Sherlock House Garden is maintained as a living exhibit of home gardening. It is an educational exhibit regarding the importance of home gardening in our nation's history. The organic garden is fertilized bi-annually and vegetables are rotated regularly for optimal production. A diluted organic soap mixture is sprayed on the plants to discourage the rabbits. The garden harvest is shared with the community.

To help the United States win World War I and World War II, civilians made do with less so there would be enough supplies for the armed forces. Planting a Victory Garden was encouraged by the federal government to supplement civilian shortages and allow raw materials to be diverted to the military. Gardening and canning became patriotic acts. Mr. Wendell Landon began making a Victory Garden exhibit by the Sherlock House in 2009.  An heirloom plant variety is one that has been maintained by gardeners and farmers over the years. These plant varieties were commonly grown during earlier periods in history but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture. The Victory Garden has heirloom varieties that are native Minnesota plants including raspberries, black currants and strawberries. Swiss chard was popularized through Victory gardens.

Town Hall

The town hall was a one-room schoolhouse in the Sullivan school district, just northeast of East Grand Forks. When students started going to school in the surrounding towns it became the Sullivan town hall.  The shingles for the Town Hall were made here at the Heritage Village by one of our members, Melvin Johnson with his own invention we fondly call the shingle machine. Area residents have donated historic materials to be archived in the town hall for others that are interested in history.


Details about a Log Building Construction

A "log cabin" was usually constructed with round rather than hewn, or hand-worked, logs, and it was the first generation homestead erected quickly for frontier shelter. One of the principal advantages of log construction was the economy of tools required to complete a structure. A felling axe was the traditional tool for bringing down the tree and cutting the logs to length. For many frontier and western structures the round logs were debarked or used in their original form with the bark left on, or one or more sides of the logs were hewn flat with a broadaxe, or more finely finished with an adze as smooth thick planks. Notching was done with an axe, hatchet or saw; openings for doors and windows were usually cut after the logs were set into place, and door and window frames, particularly jambs, were put in place during construction to help hold the logs in place. Roof framing members and floor joists were either hewn from logs or of milled lumber. A log cabin could be raised and largely completed with as few as two to four different tools, including a felling axe, a broad axe, and a hand saw or crosscut saw.

Corner notching is another of the characteristic features of log construction. Most notching methods provide structural integrity, by locking the log ends in place. The basic log cabin is a one room enclosure formed by four log walls joined at their corners, called a single "pen" or "crib."


The horizontal spaces or joints between logs are usually filled with a combination of materials that together is known as "chinking" and "daubing." Chinking and daubing completed the exterior walls of the log pen by sealing them against driving wind and snow, helping them to shed rain, and blocking the entry of vermin. In addition, chinking and daubing could compensate for a minimal amount of hewing and save time if immediate shelter was needed. Not all types of log buildings were chinked. Corncribs, and sometimes portions of barns where ventilation was needed were not chinked. A variety of materials were used for chinking and daubing, including whatever was most conveniently at hand. Generally though, it is a three-part system applied in several steps. The chinking consists of two parts: first, a dry, bulky, rigid blocking, such as wood slabs or stones is inserted into the joint, followed by a soft packing filler such as oakum, moss, clay, or dried animal dung. Daubing, which completes the system, is the outer wet-troweled finish layer of varying composition, but often consisting of a mixture of clay and lime or other locally available materials. Instead of daubing, carefully fitted quarter poles or narrow wood strips were sometimes nailed lengthwise across the log joint. Chinking, especially the daubing, is the least durable part of a log building. It is susceptible to cracking as a result of freeze-thaw action, structural settlement, drying of the logs, and a thermal expansion-contraction rate that differs from that of the logs. Seasonal deterioration of chinking necessitates continual inspection and regular patching or replacement.

The Preservation and Repair of Historic Log Buildings by Bruce D. Bomberger, National Park Service