Crossroads Historic Hanson Barn Restoration

Carlson Erickson has been the leading construction company on many expansion and renovation projects throughout Door County. See below for more projects and pictures.

Brief Historical Context: (More info available from Door County Historical Society)
Hans Hanson (born Hans Hansen and later Hans Hansen Tofteeie, after his place of residence at Tofte, a part of Hurum on the sea coast south of Oslo, Norway) converted to the Protestant Moravian faith from Lutheranism after leaving Chicago and arriving in Door County around 1855-56. Hanson was a literate and skilled master carpenter and wooden ship builder who had immigrated to The United States in 1853 with his wife Betha and two children. Hanson became good friends with Pastor Andrew Iverson in Ephraim around the birth of Hanson's fifth child, Hans Jr. Hans Jr. was born in Ephraim on October 22, 1858 and recorded in the Ephraim Moravian Church records.

On January 23, 1848, Hans Hansen, age 33, son of Hans Hansen and Bertha Helena Knudsdatter Smaelingen, age 31, daughter of Knut Ambrosiusen were married in Hurum, Norway, about 30 miles south and east from his village of birth. Their first child, Knud, was born in Hurum on November 22, 1848, and their second child, Gunnild Margrette, was born on November 9, 1850 in Hurum. Their third child, Knud, was also born in Hurum, on March 3, 1853. Apparently the first Knud had died by then. Both Knuds die young, the first in Hurum and the second in Chicago.

The family had moved from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin. Back in Norway, we notice on our map that Hurum is a sea port area on the southern tip of a large peninsula of low mountains and lakes lying between the Drammensfjord on the west and the Oslofjord on the east. The Bay of Skagerrak surrounds the area just a brief sail from the North Sea and Sweden. On closer inspection, the map reveals that the shore line of Hurum contains numerous natural and man-made harbors. Nearby Tofte is a village containing many man made ships dockage indicating a possible reason for Hansen to have settled here. He was identified as a "ships carpenter" in the Hurum Church records for the birth of his first child, Knut. Hurum is about 40 miles south of the Capital of Norway, Oslo. Hanson was a talented wood worker and probably able to construct everything from log houses and barns to all verity of wooden boats. Presumably, he could also build wooden furniture, fix axe handles, and make all kinds of farm equipment and wagon parts.

Scandinavian Construction Techniques:
One of the principle reasons for saving and restoring the Hans Hanson house is to preserve and interpret various examples of Norwegian construction. A sampling of the buildings folk architectural designs and techniques is as follows:

  1. Carefully hewn and fitted horizontal exterior and interior log walls. These logs were scribe-fit using the hollowed out undersides of each course, fitted to the unworked top surface profile of the Jogs below. Although the actual design of the log gable ends and interior gable are not known due to their being removed for Phase Il, it can be surmised that the Hanson house used a low sloping roof line of sawn boards nailed to flattened rafter poles that were notched and set onto rafter plate logs and full length purlins and a ridge pole. The plate logs, purlins and ridge pole would have extended out over the gable end walls at least 12" and possibly more. (phase I sketch). The house may have had two sets of purl ins for each gable end log course or as in the sketch it may have had only two sets total. Eventually, during the future house restoration, where some of the second floor modern walls and flooring will be removed, vertical peg holes should come to view indicating the former existence of the Phase I gable end logs. The notched rafter plate logs would have been discarded for Phase II used a full length log cantilevered out over the eastforstue. This Phase I roof design was characteristic of ancient Scandinavian buildings that held heavy large flat slate shingles or sod. In America, there are very few remaining examples of pioneer Norwegian sod roofed buildings.
  2. The original door and window openings used wall stiffener vertical "key-way" boards approximately 1-½"x2". The top ends of these boards were loosely fitted into chiseled out holes in the undersides of the door and window lintel logs that spanned the openings. As the logs shrink in size over a three or more year period, as much as 6" to 8" of ceilingheight will be lost due to settling of the wall logs. The key-ways allowed the logs to settle with out crushing the door and window casings and trim. These casings were attached to the key-way and not to the logs. The trim, if there was any for Phase I would not be nailed to the logs until the wall was completely settled.
  3. Three types of common Norwegian log notching can be found on the Hanson house.
    • Full dove tail corner notches.
    • Square, interior wall to exterior walls and upper floor joists.
    • A modified full dove tail used when not enough wood was available.
  4. A type of unheated and enclosed two level porch/storage room (forstue or fore bay) was created in Phase II when the top courses of Phase II rafter plates were removed and full length wall logs cantilevered over a eight foot area on the east side of the house. This area was enclosed with rough sawn boards nailed to hewn and sawn vertical wall studs. Traditionally, the main access to the second floor is found in this unheated area. Another example of this type of dwelling is a small loft house, built in 1844 near Stoughton, Wisconsin.
  5. Exposed decorative ceiling joists using both chamfered edges on one set and beaded edges on the other.
  6. The use of calcimine white wash both on the exterior and interior of the wall logs.

Hans Hanson's techniques in transforming green felled trees into a snug fit traditional house displaying a superior craftsmanship and following traditional designs is not that uncommon in Wisconsin. The Hanson house is a cultural statement of excellence in carpentry that is evidenced in everything Norwegian wood workers produced. From small bent wood tina boxes, to spinning wheels, looms, and every kind of furniture. Norwegians knew their wood and how to keep an edge tool sharp.