Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
US HIGHWAY 14/61 | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Reference Number:20316
Location (Address):US HIGHWAY 14/61
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1853
Survey Date:2015
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:Side Gabled
Structural System:
Wall Material:Log
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Skumsrud, Nils, House
National Register Listing Date:7/11/1990 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/23/1990 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the State Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. EXPOSED RAFTER ENDS. SQUARE CUT LOG CONSTRUCTION W/FULL DOVETAILED CNR NOTCHING. MORTAR CHINKING. DOOR ON FRONT AND SIDE. SMALL BOARDED WINDOW IN LOFT.

Vernon County, a scenic land of undulating ridges and steep-sided dales, attracted thousands of Norwegian settlers in the mid-nineteenth century. Some came directly from Norway, fleeing overpopulation and religious unrest. Others came from older Norwegian enclaves in Rock, Dane, and Waukesha counties, following the wheat-farming frontier into western Wisconsin. They typically settled in tight clusters, often with others who hailed from the very same valley or town in Norway. They arrived in the Westby area in 1848 and in the Coon Creek valley the next year. By 1860, almost half of America’s Norwegian immigrants lived in Wisconsin, and Vernon County boasted one of the heaviest concentrations of all.

Like many Coon Valley Norwegians, Nils Skumsrud came from Biri, in southeastern Norway. He immigrated to the United States in 1849, settling in Dane County, but moved here and built this house in 1853. In typical Norwegian fashion, he joined the hewn-log walls with full dovetail corner notches, the most difficult kind to make, demonstrating his facility for working wood. He chinked the walls with wood strips and mortar, then applied a protective calcimine wash inside and out. He placed eight horizontal purlins (you can see them under the eaves at the gable ends) to support the rafters, and he ran a tamarack ridgepole along the roof’s apex. The tiny door in one gable end leads to an attic loft. Inside the house, the one pine-floored room served as both living and sleeping space. Removable pegs inserted in the wall in the northeast corner functioned as steps, providing access to more sleeping space (the Skumsruds had five children) in the loft. At an unknown date, someone added a course of logs, slightly raising the loft and roof. The cabin was also electrified.

The oldest known dwelling to survive in Vernon County, this house remains in its original location. The rest of the Skumsrud Heritage Farm consists of buildings that have been moved onto the museum grounds and are not associated historically with the Skumsrud House.
Bibliographic References:VIROQUA VERNON COUNTY BROADCASTER 5/23/1996. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

Have Questions?

If you didn't find the record you were looking for, or have other questions about historic preservation, please email us and we can help:

If you have an update, correction, or addition to a record, please include this in your message:

  • AHI number
  • Information to be added or changed
  • Source information

Note: When providing a historical fact, such as the story of a historic event or the name of an architect, be sure to list your sources. We will only create or update a property record if we can verify a submission is factual and accurate.

How to Cite

For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:

Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory Citation
Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, "Historic Name", "Town", "County", "State", "Reference Number".