You are here

John and Fredricka Stern Homestead

-A A +A
1905. North side of ND 21, 2 miles east of Mott
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)
  • (Stern family papers, Hettinger County Historical Society)

The Stern homestead stands as a testament to thousands of German Russian immigrants to the Great Plains who brought with them building traditions and work habits from prior lives on the treeless landscapes of the Russian steppe. Both the Volga and Black Sea German Russians introduced house forms that were common to their Russian homeland, but likely had earlier origins in central Europe. The house-barn form is rare in the United States. Feeding and sheltering farm animals on the ground floor close to the family’s living area afforded convenience and a marginal source of heat for the sleeping loft above, and minimized contact with the fierce winter winds. Sandstone rocks that were a bane for the prairie farmer proved to be valuable building material. Stones for the house-barn were hauled with an improvised horse-drawn “stone boat” from a hillside on the south part of the acreage. Mortar was made from materials close at hand—clay mixed with manure, straw, and water. Lumber for the loft and inner walls of the house came by horse-drawn wagons from Glen Ullin, approximately fifty miles northeast. Hundreds of German Russian homes like the Sterns’ have been removed or deteriorated over the century, but this one stands in remarkably good condition as an example of vernacular architecture and the persistence of folk culture.

Writing Credits

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


What's Nearby


Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "John and Fredricka Stern Homestead", [Mott, 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, 182-183.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.