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Historic Buildings

The Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park surrounding the Museum of Danish America is home to the Jens Dixen house that may be visited with paid admission to the museum.  You may also follow the Friendship Path to the historic Bedstemor's House, only half a mile away.  You can see the story of Bedstemor's House at the bottom of this page.

Jens Dixen House

Just down the hill on the north end of the museum is the Jens Dixen House. This small North Dakota homesteader’s cabin was originally located just north of the community of Kenmare, where Jens Dixen first moved when he arrived in the area around 1901.

Dixen was a Danish immigrant, school teacher, and preacher. He taught area boys in this house, and primarily focused on spiritual training. During especially harsh North Dakota winters, the students slept in the small space above the one room on the main floor. Dixen’s students became known as “shanty boys” because of where they were taught.

The Jens Dixen House was moved to the Museum grounds in 1999, and was restored by The Cedar Valley Danes. It has since been furnished as Dixen may have used it.

The House is open to the public during the same hours as the Museum.

Bedstemor's House

Watch the YouTube video, "The Story of Bedstemor's House," parts 1, 2, and 3, at the bottom of this page.

Go back in time at Bedstemor's House and step into the world of the early 20th century immigrants.

Bedstemor’s House was built in 1908 by Jens Otto Christiansen, a Danish immigrant and Elk Horn businessman. According to local stories, he built the house as an engagement gift for a young woman who sadly turned down his marriage proposal. It is unknown if Christiansen ever lived in the home himself, but he rented the home to several families until he sold it to the Salem Old People’s Home in 1933 for “one dollar and other valuable contributions.” 

In 1946, the house was sold to Meta Mortensen, also of Danish descent. She lived in the home for 36 years, making only a few notable changes. The roses that she planted along all four sides of the house still bloom.

In 1982, Meta sold the house to the Elk Horn-Kimballton Arts and Recreation Council. The Council spent a year restoring the home to reflect the turn of the century. They named it "Bedstemor's House", using the Danish word for "Grandmother", in honor of Meta Mortensen who was herself a Danish-American grandmother. The Council operated the house for seven years until it was deeded to the Museum in April of 1990. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 16, 1997.

The Museum continues to operate Bedstemor’s House as an historic house museum, interpreting the home in its first decade. All rooms are open for viewing.

Bedstemor’s House is open to the public between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and by appointment throughout the remainder of the year. 

 

"The Story of Bedstemor's House" video is made possible by generous support from Marne Elk Horn Telephone Company and Humanities Iowa, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Story of Bedstemor's House - Part 1 of 3

 The Story of Bedstemor's House - Part 2 of 3

The Story of Bedstemor's House - Part 3 of 3