The log structure within the Carbine House was discovered in the early 1960s when the YMCA began dismantling the house then at Oak and 7th Streets (624 Oak Street) and found the log house under the exterior siding.
The log part of the house was saved, moved to the Crow Wing County fairgrounds, and repaired by the Crow Wing County Historical Society with the help of other community groups. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.)
According to the 1928 “Platted Real Property Assessment” the house was built in 1868. It was first located in a ravine between the YMCA and a building to the north. The cabin was raised twice to higher levels as the ravine was filled. In 1928 the house had water, sewer and electricity.
Duncan and Ella Carbine owned the house and lived in it for many years. They are listed in the 1901-1902 Brainerd City Directory at 624 Oak Street. At that time Duncan did car repair for the M & I Railway. In later city directories he is listed as a carpenter for the NP Railway.
Historical society needs help
Have you seen the historical buildings at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds? They were restored and are staffed each year during the fair by volunteers. Among the buildings is the Carbine House, an original log home that was built in 1868 near where the YMCA is currently located. Duncan and Ella Carbine owned the house and lived in it for many years. It was discovered in the early 1960s when the YMCA began dismantling the house then at Oak and 7th streets. The log part of the house was saved, moved to the fairgrounds and restored by the Crow Wing County Historical Society with the help of other community groups. It was opened to the public by the Crow Wing County Historical Society for visitors and guests to get a glimpse into Brainerd's past.
This year the Carbine House was closed to the public because of serious structural deterioration. The house is in need of major renovations if it is to be saved. I am concerned that if the building is not restored soon, it may be lost to future generations. The Historical Society doesn't have the funds to renovate and repair the building. I'm making a plea to local knowledgeable builders and volunteers to help us with this project. If you are interested in lending a hand to this important endeavor, please call the Crow Wing County Museum at (218) 829-3268. Donations of building materials and volunteer hours as well as monetary donations will be gratefully accepted.
Crow Wing County Historical Society Board member
("Historical society needs help" was published in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch October 7, 2010)
Cracks throughout the shingles of the rooftop have widened and the white-wash painted boards now covering the windows are peeling, revealing the same rotting as the logs surrounding the home. At 144 years old, the Carbine house located on the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds certainly looks its age.
But what used to wear its age so well, the 1868 built home has now closed its creaking doors to tours and the Crow Wing County Historical Society fears it's shutting the door on a piece of Brainerd history, too.
“We (the historical society) just haven't been able to raise the funds needed to fix up this (Carbine) house,” said Historical Society Administrator Pam Nelson. “And the saddest part is that if we don't get the funds to help restore it, we have to tear it down.
“We would be losing a piece of our town's history.”
Originally listed at 624 Oak Street, Nelson said the house first belonged to Duncan and Ella Carbine, who made it their home for many years including time prior to Brainerd's incorporation as a city in 1871.
Additions and expansions were built not on to the house, but rather around it, with the original log structure discovered in the 1960's when the YMCA began dismantling the larger scaled home.
“This log part of the home was actually just built around in brick,” said Nelson, who noted that the Carbine home is just one seven historical buildings on the fairgrounds. “So of course that didn't do wonders for keeping the house in good condition and the Minnesota winters are very harsh on the logs.
“So right now it's just not safe to let people go inside which is sad. There's a lot of work to be done to get it back to that state.”
Nelson said the whole structure needs to be reinforced and a new roof needs to be added along with some log replacements and chinking. Cost of the restitution, Nelson said, will roll in around $30,000. But the cost of losing the history in the home would be much more.
“We have been trying desperately to get the funds to help make this a place people can go inside and visit again,” said Nelson. “People love to go inside and see that part of history. We have thought about doing a replica home, which is around $50,000, but it's not the same thing.
“It loses that in the fact that it's just a replica, it's not the log house that had the original history and appeal.”
Donations to help restore the Carbine house can be made at the Crow Wing County Historical Society.
Copyright 2012 Brainerd Dispatch. All rights reserved.("Housing a piece of history" was published in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch July 25, 2012)
Funding for Repair and Restoration
In 2012, efforts to move ahead with the repair and restoration project got underway.
Bids were solicited from several firms specializing in log structures. The board of directors reviewed them and chose a bid for $62,500 submitted by Dale Edlund, owner of Edlund Construction in Richmond, MN.
Before the bid could actually be accepted, funding had to be in place. Since the Carbine house is located on the county fairgrounds, the project was eligible for grants made available specifically to county fairs. Crow Wing County Fair Board President Becky Joerger and Crow Wing County Historical Society's Lynda Hall assembled and submitted a grant application for $50,000 and everyone crossed their fingers.
In the spring of 2013, Executive Director Pamela Nelson received word from Becky Joerger that the application received very positive reviews and the full $50,000 had been awarded! The Crow Wing County Fair is a recipient of a County Fair Arts Access and Cultural Heritage grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The Carbine House Restoration project is funded, in part, by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature.
The Society is very grateful to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for their support.
Update: Edlund Construction will be starting the job sometime this fall.
The Society will need to find funding for the remaining $12,500. Starting in 2011, we have appealed to various businesses, organizations and governmental units who have responded with generous donations. We have also received donations from private individuals interested in preserving historic Brainerd.
Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority
State Farm Foundation
City of Brainerd
Long Lake Township
Platte Lake Township
St. Mathias Township
Crow Wing Township
Elizabeth F. Gilbert
Donation Box at Fair
As of September 30, 2013, a total of $10,250 has been donated, leaving a balance of $2,250.
If you have questions about making a contribution toward this worthy cause, call the Crow Wing County Historical Society at (218) 829-3268. You can mail your contribution to the Society at P.O. Box 722, Brainerd, MN 56401.Thank you for your support!