German-Russian Architecture featured at NDSU Library Lower Level Gallery

March 1, 2000

Fargo, ND -- The "German-Russian Architecture" exhibit is featured at the Lower Level Gallery of the NDSU Library from March 12 to June 18, 2000. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Beginning in the 1870s, Germans from Russia immigrated first into South Dakota and, by the late 1880s, North Dakota witnessed the arrival of the large population of Black Sea Germans in the United States. In addition to language, religion, social, and economic traditions, they brought with a distinctive type of house form. The traditional house was single story, gable-roofed, rectangular, and compartmentalized into two or three rooms.

Photographs featured include: Johannes Goldade house near Linton, Eureka, SD, house-barn near Wishek, Jacob Barth farm near Mott, Franz Ressler home near St. Anthony, a street in Zeeland, August Mantz home near Center, Welk homestead and Anton Baumgartner home near Strasburg, Pierce County wedding, George Roth home near Ashley, Valentine Hutmacher farmstead near Killdeer, and the Mueller homestead near Kulm.

"German-Russian Architecture" was produced by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, and was funded in part with a grant from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

A traditional house-barn near Wishek, McIntosh County, ca. 1885. Many of the earlier houses were built with the family living quarters and the barn as one structure.

Franz Ressler home near St. Anthony, Morton County. The earlier construction, on the left, is of earth construction and plaster covering; attached is a house-barn of mud brick and clapboard siding. The later addition on the right continues to maintain all the typical German-Russian architectural elements.

Numerous examples remain in North Dakota of traditional German-Russian houses. Although modernized, distinct characteristics of German-Russian architecture are easily identified.

The overall simplicity of design and modesty of size reflects the lack of importance of the house as a status symbol for the German-Russian. This organic extension of the treeless prairie required little imported material or outside labor to build. It was utilitarian in both space and design. Nearly every aspect of this house was energy efficient, for winter weather as well as summer weather. The total house form, in terms of material, technology, and floorplan, illustrates the theory that the fewer the options man has within his environment, the better use he makes of them. Built ca. 1894, the David and Elizabeth Mueller homestead near Kulm, Lamoure County exhibits many German-Russian architectural traditions.

Part of the exhibit.

Part of the exhibit.

Part of the exhibit.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller