Otsego Studies Historic Wright Co. House

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The city of Otsego is digging into its past this weekend, looking for artifacts as they deconstruct the McDonald house, which is believed to be the first house built by a white settler in the area more than 120 years ago.

The city is deconstructing the house because the county road in front the house will be expanded to a four-lane roadway. The expansion looks to cover the land where the house currently stands.

According to Dr. Richard Rothaus of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental, a European settler named John McDonald built the house’s frame around 1880. Rothaus thinks that McDonald was probably the first European to settle in Wright County.

The house’s frame is built with huge planks that are 10-feet long and 16-inches wide. On the property, researchers found old cigar cans, buttons and bits of “interesting trash.”

Rothaus said when McDonald settled there were Native Americans belonging to the Dakota and Ojibwa tribes roaming what would be Wright County.

Dan Licht, of the City of Otsego, said that McDonlad had a general store and a saw mill. Licht said he contributed to the community of the first plotted land in Wright County.

When you move a house in order to preserve it, it loses its historical integrity, Licht said.

To read a study of the McDonald house, click here.

Comments

One Comment

  1. bob grawey says:

    It’s my understanding that the road in question (County Road 39) will not be expanded to a four-lane any time soon; likely another 20 years or so. The reason for tearing down the McDonald House is due to finding lead paint in the extrior paint and a concern this would cause problems. Also, it wouldn’t be feasible to restore the building because of that issue and it would be cost prohibitive.

  2. DM says:

    The house isn’t that old. The foundation is poured which was not done in the 1890s. There are a lot of structural facts that show the house is much newer than that. That may be the property that the original house was on, but it is not as old they believe. An archeologiist getting paid $85 an hour will tell you whatevere you want to hear as long as the cash is flowing. It’s too bad that the city is getting taken for a ride while they are trying to do something good.

    1. And as we all know says:

      those archeologists are an untrustworthy bunch. Steal you blind if they get half a chance.

      1. DM says:

        They are when they are not trying to find what they are being paid to find. Although on site yesterday the found the bottom of a broken Snapple bottle that they swiftly put into a plastic bag for further research.
        They are doing this the wrong way, that is the point.

    2. Citizen says:

      The house was probably jacked up and supported and a new foundation put down. Originally, the house probably sat on stones with a limited basement, if there was a basement at all. The old, wide boards are typical construction from around the turn of the century. I hope those boards are being reclaimed so they can be used. They were probably milled from trees that were a couple of hundred years old at the time, and are now over 300 years old. Old growth lumber that is probably worth more than the house being torn down! Too bad this story did not have more depth.

      1. DM says:

        For a modest house like that they would not dig out all the stones and everything to pour a basement. Usually they would move the house to the new basement and use the old basement as a trash hole. As of yesterday they have not found the trash hole or any outdoor toilet holes. They should be investing their time in finding the original site, not where it ended up. Most of the things they are finding is trash thrown from cars on the nearby road.

  3. Elaine says:

    I don’t know if the house was the original or not but I do know that my father grew up in that house and I visited my grandmother there all through out my childhood. It is sad to see the house torn down.

  4. ronald a lange says:

    I ALSO LIVED IN THAT HOME ABOUT 1945 TO 1951 WITH MY GRANDMOTHER EDNA PEAVEY AND MY AUNT FLORENCE PEAVEY AND UNCLE GERALD PEAVEY WERE BROTHER AND SISTER ,FLORENCE WAS THE LAST TO LIVE THERE BEFOR THE CITY PURCHASED. OF THE PHOTOS I HAVE SEEN I BELIVE THAT IS THE ORIGINAL LOCATION,MY MOTHER IS LIVING IN ANOKA WOULD KNOW A BIT MORE . THE BOOK IMAGES OF OTSEGO ARCADIA PUBLISHING MAY HAVE INFORMATION ON MC DONALD

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