#491 – Dick Bernard: Heritage. An Old House on the Winter Solstice
UPDATE: December 21, 2012: December 9 it was snowing on Heritage House, and it appeared unofficial winter had arrived. I include a photo December 9, and another taken today at noon at Heritage House as well. They are near the end of this post. The album which follows includes 48 photos. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
UPDATE: November 7, 2012: This date I went over to Heritage House to do my November photos. As the below shows, I’ve been doing these photos each month for over a year. Today was a fall day at Heritage House, overcast, cool but not cold. A feeling of coming winter, but only subtle hints of things to come. Todays trip I noticed some new information pieces about the history of the site and some explanation of its features. These are posted at the end of this page.
Here’s the original post from Dec. 22, 2011
click on all photos to enlarge them
Last August I looked for an outdoor place to do some reading.
There were a number of options in my town. Ultimately, Marsh Creek Park at the corner of Lake Avenue and Radio Drive in Woodbury spoke most convincingly. I drove near it most every day, and the little pioneer house that was its centerpiece always beckoned, but I had never actually been in there.
So, in mid-August I drove in the parking area, got out my folding chair, found a spot and started to read a book, an hour or so at a time.
Several books and two months later I packed up for the winter. But I’ll be back.
The first day I was there, I took several photos, one of which follows (click to enlarge):
The site is maintained by the Woodbury Heritage Society* and during my times there I watched people from the Society doing this and that, as well as touring (such as one can ‘tour’) the one room house (there is an upstairs, but that is closed to visitors).
The succinct history of the home, provided by the Heritage Society says that it “was built about 1870 as an attachment to the log cabin home of original property owner Frederick Raths. Raths emigrated from Germany in 1853 and purchased the Woodbury property in 1866. This addition was used by the Raths family as a kitchen and living quarters. Over the years, it has also been used as living quarters for farm hands, and as a washing room and utility room.” An earlier log structure had been attached to the house, but many years ago was removed.
As settlers to this area go, Raths was among the earlier arrivals. Minnesota became a state in 1858; the railroad didn’t even reach St. Paul until about 1867. In 1870, St. Paul’s populations was about 20,000, about a third of Woodbury’s current population. St. Paul was Minnesota’s largest city: Minneapolis/St. Anthony together did not equal the population of St. Paul in 1870.
Tours of the house are given in the summer months, but the Raths and other had to live in the dwellings of the time year round. I keep that in mind as I pass near the pioneer house every day. We romanticize what had to have been an extraordinarily difficult existence for those who came before.
Have a wonderful Christmas.
* – Woodbury (MN) Heritage Society, 8301 Valley Creek Rd, Woodbury MN 55125, 651-714-3564
NOTE: Earlier this fall I did a multi-part post on the general topic of ‘heritage’. It begins on October 5, here.
My two messages for Christmas 2011, here.
UPDATE January 7, 2012
UPDATE March 23, 2012: a single snowy day in February, and the day after “Spring has sprung”
A tree at Heritage House April 10, 2012, “compares notes” with a tree in Albuquerque NM April 10, 2011: here.
Letter to Editor of Woodbury Bulletin October 31, 2012: here
POSTNOTE: Sometime between October 10 and November 7, 2012, the below signs were added at Heritage House, to give a visitor a better understanding of what he/she was seeing. Nice touch.