Archaeology digs comes to close


The University of Minnesota archaeology dig is coming to an end this week.  The most interesting things found, were the foundation of a building (above left), and the location of fence posts, (above right).

The foundation is believed to be a building used as a workshop. Found in the same location were remnants of charcoal, indicating it may have been used for a blacksmith’s shop.  The foundation is located where aerial show a building in the 1930s.  In later photos, the building has an addition that show a car parked in it.

The fence post holes were located to the northwest of the house.  The holes had remnants of burnt wood, which is characteristic of the technique of burning the bottom of posts prior to installing, to prevent insects and rot.



Archaeology begins

The University of Minnesota connection continues to supply plenty of rewards.  This week a Masters student, Joe Pnewski, began an archaeology class at the farm.  Being a student of business, archaeology is all new to me.  But, like most people, I am intrigued with the process.  The most common question I have gotten from people is, “what are you looking for?”   That question is a hard one for me to answer.  It really isn’t about what we are looking for, as in a nail or a plate. It is more about looking for answers to questions.  For example, where was the chicken house, or the work shop.  We have photos from the 1930’s, but by then Peterson had been dead about 40 years.  A lot changes in that amount of time.

Joe, first did a survey of the land.  He was looking for things that might indicate buildings once were there; an indention in the land for example.  Once the places of suspicion were located, he brought his class out and made a grid of the land.  Next shovel tests were done. The sod, about the size of your foot was removed. The soil was dug about a foot deep.  Each shovel full was put through a sieve, where the soil and items could be separated.  Out of the first hole, several nails, a piece of glass and a button were found.  Quite impressive on a first try.

The next day, I returned and found students diligently digging in various spots around the property.  Mercifully, they did not find anything where the new septic system was planned.  But the area north of the house, was a jackpot.  It was here, that intentions in the ground indicated previous buildings.

They will continue to look for the privy locations, the maple syrup boiling pit and the well. If you are interested in visiting, visitation day for the public is this Friday the 27th.


Conditional Use Permit received!

Last Tuesday, the Carver County Board approved the Conditional Use Permit for the farm. This changes the zoning from farming to public use. This is just the first step of many, as we move toward getting the farm ready for public use.  A huge thank you to Lake Town Township, Carver County Zoning and Planning, and the Carver County Board.

Saturday the 7th, Gerry Johnson held her first Cultural Arts event at the farm.  This program will be held once a month.  It will feature a different type of craft each month and is open to the public.  She has a variety of topics each month, from spinning to blacksmithing. You can email her at

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota cancelled their workshop, as we could not get permission from the State Historic Preservation Office, in time.  Plans are to reschedule the workshop at an undetermined future date.

The Archaeology school will be beginning May 23rd.  This is being conducted by a U of M student for his Masters Degree.  You are welcome to come watch the process and ask questions.

A Historic Structures and Landscape Report grant will be submitted May 27th.  This report is a planning document that will be used to determine what is there, what needs repair/restoration and what order to do the work in.  Think of it as a Master Plan for restoration work.

If anyone is interested, we are looking for volunteers to work at the farm.  Work will include repairing the modern screens for the house, lawn work, and help at the dedication (crowd control, and putting up a large tent), on June 25th.  Contact Heidi Gould at 952-442-4234, or for more information.


Conditional Use Permit and Scandia Cemetery

The process of moving the farm from being zoned Agriculture to Historic Property for use with large gatherings is a slow one.  This week it passed through Carver County’s Zoning and Planning Committee.  The last step is to receive approval from the County Commissioners.  That should come May 2nd.  Then we will legally be able to host public events at the farm.

A representative from Laketown Township was present at the Committee meeting, to voice not only their support but their excitement in having the CCHS move forward with plans for the farm.  A letter of support was also received from Deardorff Orchards for the project.

The date for final rebids for the north barn has passed, and verbal permission from SHPO has been received to continue with the construction work on the north barn.  Hansen HomeTech is the winning bidder, and are in the process of drawing up a contract.  The first check for the Legacy granted project was received this week, so we are finally moving forward.

A conference call with SHPO is scheduled for tomorrow to discuss the need to change the engineering/architectural  drawings for the north barn.  Previously, the drawings were to restore the barn to private use.  With the change of ownership and consequently the use from private to public, the floor now has to accommodate 100 psi to meet public use requirements.

Also to be discussed, is the location for a new septic system for the house.  There doesn’t seem to be one right answer.  In each location, some landscape feature will be affected.  How can it not when we are looking at a mound that is 4 feet high. The final call will be based on a location that will affect the landscape the least. Once that is decided, we will have to look at how we can best camouflage the mound.

So much is happening.  It may seem it is slow, but behind the scenes, there is a lot happening and many steps.

On another topic the Scandia Cemetery is looking for volunteers to help clean up the cemetery.  See below.  This is the cemetery where Andrew Peterson is buried.

Would YOU please consider spending 2-3 hours
with your ANCESTORS!


When:  Saturday, MAY 7, 2016    Noon – 4PM
Waconia, MN (across from Island View Golf Course ProShop)


‘GOD’s LITTLE ACRE’, where some of your relatives are buried, could use some TLC this Spring to get it looking nice for Memorial Day (aka Decoration Day).  Besides, your ancestors are in need of some company!  Bring ‘yard cleanup’ gear & tools along with your strong muscles, or just come chat, and see what new ideas might be on the docket for the future of the Cemetery.


RSVP by May 5 to Jacque Waugh at
or 952-446-1175

For those available, come at noon -1pm for lunch at the Island View Golf Course Restaurant across the road from the Cemetery (pay on your own) and share stories and ideas.

Friends of the Peterson Farm meeting called

Greetings all,

So many have asked to reboot the Friends of the Peterson Farm, that it would appear easy to do.  The problem has been getting someone to lead it. Finally, we have decided to just call a meeting and bring everyone up to speed and trust someone will step forward. We plan to be part of the organization, but a Friends group is designed to be a volunteer organization dedicated to helping a particular cause or project.

For those who would like to be involved or would like more information about the Friends group, a meeting will occur tomorrow at the CCHS at 11 AM.  The meeting is organizational-informational. If you have wondered how you can help, or what is going on, this is the event for you. The CCHS Curator Erika Hildreth will be leading the charge.

For more information, you may contact Erika at 952-442-4234.




The original engineer’s structural report was designed to put the north barn back into private use.  Now that the building is going to be public use, a new design was needed to meet public use code.  Dave MacDonald submitted the drawing to us this week, and it has been turned over to SHPO for approval.  Once approval is received, we will forward the whole package on for a building permit. Permission to build a handicapped ramp to the barn has also been submitted. Sometimes, it feels like two steps forward one step back.  But, it is all for the long term use of the property.  So all is good.  It just seems to take longer than we expect.

In the mean time, take a look at the photo above.  Ward is taking one of his sleighs out for a ride.  Behind the sleigh, you can see the north barn as it was, and will be again.

The dedication for the farm is continuing forward.  As a reader of this blog, you are invited to join us for the dedication ceremonies on June 25th at 1 PM.  Representative Dean Urdahl will be our speaker.


Restoration work for the barn is moving in the right direction.  We have had our meeting with SHPO, and the meeting with the contractors.  Building supplies have been ordered.  Discussion about where to put the web cams has been completed.  Now, it is real.  With reality comes the knowledge that building permits, Conditional Use Permits and building inspections are needed to have the public visit the property.  Each task comes with a multitude of bureaucracy.   With that said, everyone has been very helpful; it just takes forever to navigate through each organization.  None of this is taught in Grad School.  Let me walk you through each of the documents we need, to allow the public to visit.

The Conditional Use Permit pertains to zoning and allows the CCHS to use the farm for public visits.  Currently, the farm is zoned agriculture.  To get a CUP is a multi-staged task.  First step was meeting with the Laketown Township board.  They had concerns about the amount of traffic that would travel Parley Lake Road, once we put in a driveway to the farm off of Parley Lake.  Building a new driveway will happen, but not in the immediate future, as care of the buildings comes first.  After meeting with Laketown Township, Carver County Planning was contacted.  We missed the cut off for the County meeting by three days, which means the earliest meeting date is March 25.  After this meeting, it will go before the board.  If all goes well, we will have permission to have the public on the property by early May!  Just in time for the summer season.

A building permit was not needed in the past for the barn as it wasn’t going to be used for public use.  Now it will be, so engineering and architectural reports are needed to get a building permit.  Thankfully we have those, so the permit is obtainable.  However like everything else, it is fill out the forms, and include duplicates of plans and mail it all in then wait.  With SHPO involved, any changes will have to be to cleared through them.  The only change from barn use to a public use may be the addition of handicapped accessibility. The building will only be used seasonally, and does not nor will not have utilities.

The other buildings will need an structural report from an engineer before the county inspector will clear the building for the public.  It doesn’t matter the building is solid or not.  The reason for this is that when a building changes use, especially when it will be used for public use, it must be inspected for structural soundness.  What this means for the farm, is that it will be years before some of the buildings can be used, unless some wonderful engineer, steps up to the plate and offers to do the work for free.

So much to do and so little time.  It will all get done.  Just don’t expect it all to be done in a couple of years.




The signed contract for the Legacy money was received last week.  One more step toward the start of the restoration work for the north barn.  This week the contractors; Hansen HomeTech, Creature Works, Historic Structural supervisor Todd Grover and the CCHS Executive Director Wendy Petersen Biorn will attend a phone conference with the State Historic Preservation Office,  (SHPO).  In this conference, we discuss the overall plan, and the five project Milestones that need to be met, as the project progresses.

March 7th through the 11th, volunteers will arrive on the farm to start the clean up around the north barn.  If you are interested in helping clean things up, contact Heidi Gould at the CCHS.  952-442-4234

The U of M has at least three classes working on projects in association with the farm.  The classes are part of Carver County’s Resilient Communities Project. The projects being worked on by the U of M include:

Joseph Pnewski who is working on a base line archaeology project for his Masters degree.  He is planning on running an archaeological field school at the Peterson Farm from May 23rd through June 10th. It is likely that he will be only there for the first two weeks (May 23rd through June 3rd) and on a different location for the final week, but he wanted to give us a full range of dates just in case things change.

A U of M class that is working toward updating the Andrew Peterson National Register Nomination.

A landscape architecture class that is looking at either finding the best place for the parking lot and/or access via Parley Lake Road or designing way finding signs for the property.


A Scandinavian class that will look at how to draw more tourism to the site.

In addition to the U of M classes, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, (PAM), will be holding public historic preservation classes at the farm.  Their classes focus on teaching people how to preserve plaster and windows in old houses.

The list continues to grow.  It is with great excitement that we look forward to the coming months.




Preservation Alliance of Minnesota plans restoration classes at farm

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota recently visited the AP farm with the purpose of determining if they could hold classes at the farm, to teach people how to preserve old plaster and windows.  We will win by having professionals working on the house.  They found that the plaster in the house contained horse hair, which means the plaster is original, 152 years old.  It is very good condition- under about 6 layers of wall paper.

A number of wooden storm and screen windows were found.  They will be measured and documented with the hope that we can return them to their original locations.

On another topic, the University of Minnesota Resilient Communities project sent three more classes our direction.  One is in Scandinavian tourism/literature.  They just happened to be reading the Moberg Immigrant books. The professor wasn’t aware of the connection with Andrew Peterson, until she met us.  We were invited to speak to the class about how the students might help us increase Scandinavian tourism to the farm.  The class will be taking a trip to the farm in the next few weeks.

A conference call connected us to a second class.  They will be working to determine the optimal location for a driveway off of Parley Lake Road, and a location for a parking lot.  we would like to be able to give visitors the experience of walking down the driveway, but a driveway to the south would mean putting in a second driveway near the north property border.  Rolling land, causes a challenge when looking for a location for a parking lot.

A project is being undertaken by another student who is making the farm the focus of his Masters Thesis for Archaeology.

Stay tuned, soon we will be starting work on the north barn.