Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

The Hutmacher farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered the midwest’s finest still-standing example of the earthen abodes built by Germans from Russia. Believe it or not, Alex Hutmacher lived here until 1979.

The Hutmacher farm has been undergoing restoration. You can get more information here. These photos contributed by Kim Dvorak.

More reading on the Hutmacher farm here and here.

Hutmacher Homestead

The Hutmacher farmstead is a good example of what immigrants were willing to endure for their chance at the American dream. With no trees available for building material, and purchased lumber out of their price range, many settlers on the prairie spent their first years in dwellings like this, built from the only material available — the earth itself. Many had left behind nice homes (and most of their worldly possessions) in Europe, to move to dwellings like this, where there were daily encounters with vermin and insects, and where the roof needed constant maintenance to stave-off leaks, but the promise of new opportunity was worth the hardship.

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.

12 thoughts on “Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

  1. The Hutmacher farm complex is a treasure to North Dakota. I would recommend visiting there to anyone that is interested. Preservation North Dakota (www.prairieplaces.org) has done a fantastic job of spearheading the restoration project. If you are interested in keeping the progress going, consider becoming a member of PND.

    I last visited Hutmacher in 2003 well before the restoration efforts started. It is an amazing place, it’s quite a distance from the nearest town.

  2. I’d guess that the Hutmacher structure was pretty livable inside. That wasn’t always the case in sod houses. My grandfather homesteaded south of what would be Turtle Lake in 1904 (T.L. came in ’05). He and my grandmother lived in two different sod houses until 1917. Grandma told me, “after 13 years it was none too soon.” She gave birth to three sons in those sods.

  3. My great grandparents, William and Elizabeth Kenmir Payne lived in a sod house that he constructed near Park River, North Dakota where most of their children were born. It always seemed as though it would be a struggle to me and this house certainly shows that. What brave souls they were that helped to build this wonderful country of ours. What a legacy they have left us. Oh, to be half the person that they were!

  4. I wonder how I could find out if my grandfathers Standard Oil gas station in Landa, ND is in the national registry. I had heard something to that effect last time I was home in Landa. I pumped gas for his customers when I was a teenager in the early 70’s. My grandfather also had a very well known machine shop adjacent to the gas station called “Festvogs Welding and Machine”. The machine shop burned down 1 year after my grandfather sold out. My grandfather had worked there from 1915-1976. I still have the wooden wall phone, (now restored), and one of the original gas globes from the Standard station. My grandfather was a remarkable man whom made me who I am today. He did jobs that reached far into the surrounding states. I am forever grateful to my grandparents.

  5. My dad always said is ancestors came from Russia, but we’ve not been able to find this. His name was Hutter (hut maker). I’m assuming Hutmacher means the same…?

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