Open Air Museum
The Bekkum Homestead seeks to re-create a typical local farm at the turn of the century. The first buildings were moved to the site beginning the summer of 1982 from neighboring farms. Nearly all of the artifacts, including the houses and outbuildings, were donated by local families with major financial support provided by Owen and Dorothy Bekkum. The homestead is comprised of a house, summer kitchen, springhouse, corn crib, granary, outhouse, chicken coop, machine shed, stable, barn, blacksmith’s shop, and storage shed.
The house was built by Paul Engum and his son-in-law, Martinus Haugen. It is actually made up of two individual log buildings. The smaller building was built first on a site in nearby Timber Coulee. Around the turn of the century, the larger house was constructed not far from the first. The older building was then dismantled and reassembled as it is restored today. The smaller part, originally built in 1867, is a Norwegian one-room floor plan while the larger part, constructed in approximately 1890 has a three-room floor plan. These two floor plans are the most typical Norwegian-American construction types.
Summer kitchens were used to avoid heating the house with the cook stove in warm months. They were more than just kitchens since the washing and other chores took place there. Our summer kitchen dates to approx. 1890 and comes from a farm that was originally owned by Amund Sveum, near Coon Valley.
Valley farms in this area often had springs near the house, which provided household water and helped keep milk and butter cool in summer. A springhouse was built around the spring to keep the water clean and accessible. A Wisconsin Conservation Corps crew moved this building from the south (Volden) farm at Norskedalen. It was probably originally built by Torger Bagstad who owned the farm around the turn of the century.
Log corn cribs are one of the rarest types of structures to be found in Wisconsin. Ours is a particularly nice example with a notched style that indicates that its builder used an authentic Norwegian construction technique. It was build in about 1870 by Ole Hjelstuen east of Westby.
The granary stands on a pile of rocks so that air can circulate beneath it, drying the grain and limiting the access to rodents. Prior to 1900, wheat and barley were major cash crops and granaries were the most constructed building type, next to the house. Our granary was constructed by Johannas Aaseng about four miles from Norskedalen in Timber Coulee.
Old outhouses are very hard to find, since most were not built to last and interior plumbing made them unnecessary long ago. Ours dates from about 1900.
Our chicken coop was originally a house when it was built on the Johannas Aaseng farm, which is the same farm that our granary came from. It was dismantled, moved and reassembled as a chicken coop on that farm when the newer house was constructed, and that is how it has been restored.
Much equipment was needed for planting, harvesting and transportation. It all had to be kept under a roof to protect it from the weather. Our machine shed is from north of Coon Valley, from the John Moilien farm on North Ridge.
The stable was constructed between 1870 and 1880 by Torger Bekkum, ancestor of Owen Bekkum, in Timber Coulee. The top logs are not filled with mortar so that hay would dry in the loft. Animals were kept in the lower level.
The barn was constructed in 1884 by Ole Aarness in Rullandsdalen off of Timber Coulee. It is partially log and partially timber frame construction, and is typical of Norwegian style construction in this area.
Our blacksmith shop was originally a cabin. As was commonly done, it was at some time disassembled and moved to another location on the original farm, to be used for another purpose.
The storage shed demonstrates a construction style that indicates that it is the most recently built of all the structures in our homestead. The notching of the logs is simple and the logs have not been squared off. This is an example of the kind of building that might have been erected quickly when the need for storage or workspace arose.
The Bekkum Homestead has also become a very popular backdrop for family, engagement and wedding photos as well as ceremonies.