Have a Hand in History!
Want to volunteer to help build the Aslak Olsen Lie House? Call Folklore Village at (608) 924-4000.
A Craftsman on Two Continents
Aslak Olsen Lie House Restoration & Education Project
Background and History
The Aslak Olsen Lie (pronounced Lee) House was built in Southern Wisconsin in 1848-49. Aslak was a master craftsman, carpenter, cabinetmaker, and blacksmith in his native Norway and then in the United States. He is one of the few country immigrant craftsmen in the United States whose work has been traced on both sides of the Atlantic. His Wisconsin home is one of the oldest Norwegian American structures in Wisconsin.
Since the mid 1960’s, the Lie House had sat empty, untended and inaccessible to the public. By 2002, this 34′ X 17′ two-story log and timber frame home was in desperate need of relocation and extensive restoration if it was to survive. To preserve and honor this unique piece of Norwegian-American, early-Wisconsin history, its owners donated this treasure to Folklore Village in 2003. The Aslak Olsen Lie House has since been painstakingly documented, labeled, dismantled and all materials placed in storage.
At every step of the way, this project has been enthusiastically supported and encouraged by State, Regional and National historians. They have been joined in their support by their counterparts in Norway. All agree that this is a one-of-a-kind building with a rich and multi-faceted story. It is also agreed that Lie’s Wisconsin home deserves the effort and expense it will take to restore and bring it back to life.
A thoroughly researched Historical, Architectural Analysis, and Restoration Plan for the Lie House was completed in early 2009, thanks to a grant from the Jeffris Family Endowed Preservation Fund through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
We have been moving forward with the rebuilding process since the spring of 2015. Because of funding issues, we are pledging to build the Aslak Lie House in its original form – a one-story, two-room log cabin, approximately 16’3″ X 33’8″. The second story may be added later, if additional funding allows. We have assembled a task force of knowledgeable volunteers, whose collective experience and enthusiasm promises to see this project to completion.
Folklore Village will be offering educational opportunities for those interested in historical log cabin reconstruction, which will be led by Nels Diller, who studied Norwegian log cabin building techniques in Norway, and who built the elegant Norwegian “stabbur” located on the street in Mt. Horeb, WI in front of Open House Imports. Nels’ building is modeled after a famous stabbur located at Torvetjonn in Telemark, Norway. These educational opportunities will be made available during our festivals now that we have the foundation in place, and student builders will be able to participate in meals, lodging options, and evening activities along with the other festival participants.
Left: Nels Diller and his wife Karen standing next to the Norwegian stabbur he built, which is located in front of Open House Imports in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Thanks to Brooke Bechen for the great article on the Aslak Lie House in the October 29, 2015 edition of the Dodgeville Chronicle!!