The Stone House

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I remember the first time I saw this stone house in Richardville township, Kittson County, Minnesota.  I was fascinated by the intensive labor that would be required to build it. Now, some twenty five years later I returned, with permission, and photographed it in detail.  I have done a little research and believe it was built some time in 1885 to 1890 by a Alfred E. Ramsey, who came from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

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This close-up shot of the horizontal lines indicate that wooden forms were used to frame the wall and many, many stones were used with the concrete.  The wall on either side of the windows has lost the smooth surface shown on the other sections and suggest to me that the concrete mix had less cement in it and weathered badly. The two window frame must have been set in place prior to the pouring of the cement & rocks mixture.  Other sections of the walls showed this happened in other places. It also may be an indication that the cement was poured on a very hot day and the cement up against the wooden forms  caused it to dry out before it could set properly. Regardless of what caused it, these sections were strong enough to last over 125 years.

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This is the south side of the house and shows the major crack in the s/w corner.  In fact all four corners of the house failed in this manner and it is amazing it has not fallen down. When I first saw the house the cracks were hardly noticeable and I believe the harsh winter freezing temperatures were responsible.

It is obvious the lower section of the roof failed and it allowed water to enter the building and caused considerable damage to the floors. Most abandoned buildings suffer from roof failure, followed rapidly by the failure of the walls and the collapse of the building. That did not occur with this stone walled structure.

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This view of the back wall of the house shows it is reasonably intact other than the fact that all the windows have rotted away and fallen inside. Note the failure of the cement under the window frame on the right side. The bottom corner is very bad but shows that thin rebar was used, at least in the corner.

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This view of the rear or west wall is in very good shape considering its age. If the sides of the house had not cracked it would probable remained standing for many more years.

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The shot was taken looking east through the window opening in the right rear lower section.  It is a confusing mess.  The house was divided in the middle by a north/south wall. The door opening is on the second floor.  The entire dividing wall, both upstairs and down has fallen down into the basement. In this view, what little remains of the second floor is in the middle of the photo.  Only the portion in the left middle of the photo still remains.  The first floor has already fallen into the basement. The door on the main floor had a rounded top which can be seen in the lower right of the photo.

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In this view the door opening was on the first floor and has fallen about four feet into the basement.  Looking through the door opening you can see what remains of the first floor. The floor joists and planks on the lower left are a portion of the attic floor that fell into the basement. The round holes in the wall are for stove pipes. The hole in the south roof allowed water to soak the main and attic floors so that they failed where they were attached on the south side of the house.  The stone walls are still secure and in time all the interior walls and floors will rot away and leave a hollow building.

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This is the north wall of the house which only contained a door and window opening. The door opening has been sealed up with stone and cement. From the cracks it appears the wall above the door was failing and it was sealed up to stop it from getting worse.

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This is the north east corner of the house. From the age of the trees all around the house it appears that there was nothing but open prairie when the house was built.  To the best of my knowledge no members of this Ramsay Family remain in the county.

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