Visitors will have a rare opportunity to tour the Prairie Log Home and Elk Center Schoolhouse on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 1-4 p.m. The Buena Vista County Historical Society is opening the historic structures to the public for tours for the first time in years, in the latest event in a series of public opportunities celebrating Storm Lake’s Sesquicentennial year. It will be free to visit both attractions.
The log home dates to approximately 1871. It was originally constructed in rural Buena Vista County, just northeast of where the town of Rembrandt later developed. It was painstakingly built in Scandinavian style from ax-squared, dovetailed and pegged together oak logs by the immigrant Dahl farm family. At one time, a family of 12 is said to have called the site home, though it has only two modest rooms and a small loft.
Over the years, it was occupied by several different families, eventually used as a corn cob or machine shed. It had fallen into disrepair and narrowly escaped being razed. The property owner in the early 1970s donated the cabin to the county historical society, as the first major project for that young organization. The cabin was restored by being dismantled one log at a time, with pieces numbered and then reassembled by hand. It stood in Storm Lake’s Sunrise Park for years, open for tours on weekends. It was later moved to the Railroad Street location to make way for Project AWAYSIS.
The cabin is furnished much as it would have been in 1870, with many historic artifacts, a historical treasure for the community.
The Elk Township School was built in 1872, about 12 miles northwest of Storm Lake. It was typical of the roughly 100 country schools that served the children of Buena Vista County during the later 1800s into early 1900s. It is one room, heated by a coal stove. Students from grade 1-8 were educated in the same room by a single teacher.
The schoolhouse was obtained by the historical society in 1996, and moved to the lakefront area. Later it was relocated to the Railroad Street site next to the log home. It is fully outfitted in prairie school style with period desks, books and teaching materials. A matching outhouse completes the scene. Earlier in its history, the schoolhouse was used to host day-long student visits.
It has been more than 15 years since the log house and schoolhouse have been open to the public for tours regularly.
Members of the historical society are excited to showcase the historic sites to the public again. This will be the first opportunity for many current Storm Lakers to view the log home and school. The museum, located across Railroad Street, will also be open on that day for visitors to view the latest exhibits and explore the Pioneer Main Street inside.