We worked on an historic Finnish-style log structure back in 2004 located near Cokato, MN. The log “savu” or “smoke” sauna at Temperance Corners is a prime example of the Finnish- style of log construction. Known as the “Savu Sauna”, this is the oldest Finnish sauna in the United States at the ripe old age of 140. This type of sauna had an open fire that was built right in the sauna building. After heating it up for hours, the fire was put out and then water was poured over the pile of rocks that was in the sauna creating a piping hot steam sauna. Since those days, some things have improved with time when it comes to taking a sauna.
Click here for more on the Cakato Finnish American Historical group.
One thing we have found to be true with these turn-of-the-century log buildings is that in almost every case, they have marginal foundations. It is always important to consider this when assessing the structural integrity of an historic log building. Everything starts with a solid foundation, which keeps logs free of moisture from the ground. The Savu Sauna was a classic example of a building that had everything going for it except one thing – it needed a new foundation.
A 140-year-old building is bound to need something and this link on our web site visually demonstrates the process we used in our restoration. Splashing water off the eves and soil moisture were the main culprits in this situation, causing the bottom logs to rot. With careful consideration to find original wood from the area near Cokato, our crew extracted the rotten logs one at a time and set out to match the dovetail style corners crafted by the original builder.
While water management and foundations are important aspects of general log home design and restoration, historically significant buildings have special considerations. It is important to take care not to alter the character of the logs, while taking steps to preserve the structure.
For example, modern stains do a good job of protecting the logs from moisture but they can also change the appearance of the logs. Bottom line: It is important to strike a balance when it comes to deciding what route to take to preserve your historic log structure. We can help.
For more on how we have restored other historic log structures, click here.
Contact us for more information or give us a call at 715-373-5744.
We have the experience and expertise to restore just about any log building – no matter how old it may be!