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Ludwig and Christina Welk Homestead, Lawrence Welk Boyhood Home

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1899–1928. 845 88th St. SE
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)

Like most of their neighbors, the Welk family made the long journey from the Black Sea region, arriving in New York in 1893. Traveling by rail to Eureka, South Dakota, they acquired a team of oxen and struck out for a homestead three miles west of the speculative village of Tirsbol on a site overlooking Baumgartner Lake to the north. This house, completed in 1899, is the birthplace and boyhood home of musician-bandleader Lawrence Welk. The house consists of three rooms in a linear arrangement, comparable to the Johannes Goldade House (EM3). The original walls of the house were constructed of batsa—dried mud and straw bricks, often with manure as a binder—laid in mud mortar, in three wythes (continuous vertical thicknesses of masonry) to a total thickness of about eighteen inches. The walls are protected on the exterior with horizontal clapboard siding fastened to wood studs built into the mud brick walls and are finished on the interior with mud plaster. A view window has been installed through the interior finish materials to provide visual access to the batsa bricks. A vorhausel (entrance vestibule, popularly referred to locally as a Dakota entry) was added at the western end of the southwest wall. Ceiling joists are hung from wrought-iron hook bolts anchored to a 6 × 8-inch center beam. The window frames are set toward the outer face of the walls, leaving deep window sills and splayed jambs that help diffuse the available daylight. The attic is accessed from an open wood-frame exterior stair on the northwest end of the house. The eastern portion of the attic is partitioned off as a sleeping room that is heated only by gravity convection through a floor transfer grill from the bedroom below. Also located on the site are a summer kitchen, outhouse, and blacksmith shop (1890s). The detached outhouse faces the yard between the house and the summer kitchen. The Welk homestead has been restored to resemble the way it was in 1924, the year that Lawrence Welk left home to pursue a musical career with his band of Hotsy Totsy Boys, to the doubtless chagrin of his father.

Writing Credits

Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay


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Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "Ludwig and Christina Welk Homestead, Lawrence Welk Boyhood Home", [Strasburg, North Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of North Dakota

Buildings of North Dakota, Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 203-204.

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