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Lutze Housebarn 'Workdays' have begun April 22nd, hope to see you there/here!FAQ's

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These are some of the most frequently asked questions, those that are links have answers. 
Just like in life, not all questions have easy answers, look for more questions and answers to arrive here soon, or send us an email with your questions or check out our Feedback Page.

What is a "Housebarn"?  

What is the Lutze Housebarn all about??

How can I see the old time crafts being done?

Can I come and tour?  Bake ovens?  Barns and Farms?

What is nogging?

How can I be a part of history?

I have an old barn, do you want it?

What does 'hand hewn' mean?

I want to fix up a building on my property, can you provide consulting to us on how to do it or how to decide priorities?  Please see our Consulting Services Page.

What is an oral history?

Will Centreville Settlement help me with or fund repairs to any buildings for me?

What is a housebarn?

Housebarns are of ancient heritage...the animals and humans living side by side.  They are very common throughout Germany and central Europe.  There are several variations.  The most traditional form is the “L” shape, which is a two or three storied structure with the humans in one end of the “L” and the animals in the other. 

The Lutze Housebarn is a long straight three storied structure with the animals on the west end and the people on the east.  The larger animals (horses, oxen, cows and maybe hogs) were housed on the first floor.  The heat they generate rises and warms the second floor for the smaller animals such as chickens, geese and sheep.  In the family residence, the kitchen is located on the first floor.  The cooking stove generated much of the heat and special heat pipes transmitted the heat to the other rooms on the first & second floor.  The third story was for hay and straw storage which acted as insulation.

It was also traditional in Europe to have a courtyard.  The first building usually was built east to west with the main opening on the south.  Other buildings were added as needed built around the courtyard square.  The Lutze Housebarn was the first building (built in 1849).  A new barn was built in 1874 and later expanded.  A sheep barn was built between the housebarn and new barn and, in 1896, the present yellow brick house was built.  There were also a butcher shed, wood shed and chicken coop that completed the courtyard.

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How can I see the old time building skills being done?

Lutze Housebarn restoration is in progress every other Saturday from April through November.  Visitors and volunteers are welcome during any workday.  Special arrangements can be made for larger groups and visiting during other times. <Click here for our calendar>

The Lutze Housebarn is the only site we know of that allows visitors to tour and participate in the preservation skills during actual restoration

All work is being done, where ever possible, with heritage tools and skills.  Classes are held periodically in timber structural repair and stone masonry.  Nogging and cedar shingle making are other crafts classes offered occasionally.  Watch this web site or contact us for information.

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Can I come and tour?

The Lutze Housebarn is open to the public and volunteers every workday and at other times by special arrangement.  Work days are every other Saturday April though November.  (see work day schedule posted on this site).  Visitors are encourage to put on their work boots, gloves and clothes and join the other volunteers.  Part of Centreville Settlement’s mission is to preserve not only the building but the skills and the culture of the time.  Joining a work day allows the volunteer to experience the camaraderie of working together and a job well done.  All volunteers are invited to a traditional farm style work day lunch.

Housebarn tours are available between 10:00 am -12 noon every workday.  There is a $5 donation for tours.  All visitors are invited to join the lunch (there is a small fee for non-workers).

Other tours available include: 

  • There are three functioning outdoor wood bake ovens in the area.  Baking demonstrations can be arranged for large groups.

  • Centerville Township has a wonderful collection of silos of many construction styles and materials...from very old to very new.  Tour includes history of silos.

  • “Farming Through the Ages” visits the Lutze Housebarn, a traditional small Wisconsin farm, a large modern, high tech farm and a farm practicing "alternative" farming techniques.

  • Centerville Township tour provides a snapshot of Wisconsin as it entered Statehood.  It includes the original shipping port of Hika, several farms, cemeteries, churches and a history of the times.  A traditional German meal can be arranged.

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What is "nogging"?

"Nogging" is general term meaning a functional filler in the walls of a building.  In log buildings (logs stacked on top of each other) there is usually split wood wedged between the logs, and then covered with a mortar-like clay/lime mixture to keep out moisture and wind. 

In the case of the Lutze Housebarn and many German style buildings there are rough split vertical staves wedged into the openings between the timbers.  Once made solid, they are hand packed with a mixture of damp clay, sand, and long and short straw.  Then the surface is covered with the same clay/sand mixture without the straw  and troweled smooth.  Once dry (4 to 8 weeks) a final smooth coat is troweled over.  Traditionally this is then covered with a lime wash, leaving the framework exposed in the traditional German fechwerke style. Learn more on our 'nogging' pages.

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I have an old barn.  Does Centreville Settlement want it?

Centreville Settlement is a rural historic preservation organization dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, cultural and farming heritage in the Centerville, Wisconsin area.  People have asked to donate their buildings to our organization but collecting old buildings is not is our mission.  An historic building has it’s most value if it remains on it’s original site.

If you feel you own a building that has historic value, contact your local preservation organization.  Many have historic villages that may accept your building. 

If you are not sure of the historic value of the building, or are looking for ideas about how to stabilize or repair your building, check our consultant page.

If you are going to tear it down, we may consider accepting some of the timbers and wood for restoration of the Lutze Housebarn, or to hold for sale as a fundraiser for our general operations.  Interested?  Please contact Chris Kuehnel via email at cqnel@centrevillesettlement.com

You may want to consider repairing or reconstructing it for other uses.  There are good tax incentives for preservation and adaptive uses of historic buildings.  Check our consultant page for help.

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What does “hand hewn” mean?

Immigrants built their own buildings with hand tools.  Sometimes they had access to a water powered saw mill but in most cases all the wood was hand shaped.  The trees were cut down and timbers and boards were created through pure physical labor.

As Centreville Settlement volunteers restore the Lutze Housebarn, most work is done by hand with heritage tools.  We offer internships in half timber repair with includes the use and care of hand tools.

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What is an oral history?

When a reporter or author writes a story, article or book, he/she will investigate the material.  He will interview people, record what her sees and may report on previous written information found in books, journals, letters.  Interviewing people create a live report of the story.  It is an “oral” report of an event.  An oral history is the same thing.  It is the documenting of history through what people remember and tell to a reporter/recorder.

There is a process to documenting history through oral reports.  Centreville Settlement has an “Oral History” booklet that tells you how to collect information for history.

Every person has stories to tell of the past.  It is the old timers in the community that can tell the stories of history....when the railroad first came through, when the dam was built, what it was like when all the boys went off to WWI, what people did for entertainment when they were children, what were the favorite recipes of the time,  how were holidays celebrated.  They can also give you the history of your family.

Oral histories are a very valuable part of documenting history. Get out your tape or phone recorder going, and get those histories before they are lost forever.  More about a local oral history group here.

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