Proving Up the Welk Homestead
UPDATE: Early Sunday morning 22 July, this campaign achieved its initial goal of $4000. Individual thank-you's are going out, but here's a general shout of appreciation to all who have supported the effort.
Are we done, then? Well, no. In the first place, now that we have the money to buy lumber, we need to do the actual, physical work! The big push will come with a work party on 1-3 August. If you'd like to help with that, call Clarence Herz at 701-799-4081. We need hands.
Second, the online campaign covers what we need for the basic repairs on the barn, but there are other repairs to cover, too. There is foundation work we really should do on the barn, and we're short on funds to cover that. Moreover, our partner on site, Pioneer Heritage Inc., needs money for materials to repair other buildings, such as the summer kitchen, and so what we don't need for barn work will be welcome for other use.
Summing up, then: additional contributions sought and welcomed! And all funds will be put to direct use overcoming issues of deferred maintenance to prepare the site for the assumption of management by the State Historical Society of North Dakota in summer 2015.
The Ludwig & Christina Welk Homestead is known to the world as the birthplace and boyhood home of Lawrence Welk, America's Music Maker. This farm site in Emmons County, North Dakota, is much more than that. It is the American homestead of two hard-working immigrant farmers, Ludwig and Christina Welk, parents of Lawrence. It is a place for the celebration of pioneer family farming, as well as the rich heritage of the Germans from Russia, North Dakota's largest ethnocultural group.
The legislature of North Dakota has appropriated funds to purchase the homestead. The State Historical Society of North Dakota has agreed to make it a state historic site. All this is contingent, however, on certain repairs being made to buildings on site, especially the barn, which has been deemed unsafe. "Proving Up the Welk Homestead" is the campaign to fund the repairs, as required by the state historical society and as specified by our consulting engineers from KLJ.
In the days of the Homestead Act, settlers had to "prove" up their claims by building a home and making improvements. Today, in the process of making a state historic site, we are proving up the Welk Homestead once again.
Who Is Doing This?
In the old days, neighbors came together in old-fashioned barn-raisings. Neighbors are coming together again to rehabilitate the barn and buildings on the Welk Homestead. The centerpiece of the homestead is the residence, built in the old-country style of earthen brick, subsequently expanded and sided to accommodate the growing Welk family. The house and most of the outbuildings require only minor and cosmetic repairs. The barn, however, needs major work to make it safe.
The site is owned by a local nonprofit, Pioneer Heritage Inc., which includes Welk family members. Assisting with the reorganization and transfer to the state historical society is the Tri-County Tourism Alliance, an association of citizens from Emmons, Logan, and McIntosh counties (German-Russian Country) that promotes grassroots heritage tourism. North Dakota State University, too--through NDSU Extension, the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, and the Center for Heritage Renewal--has brought material aid to the cause. The CHR, specifically, has provided more than $2000 in materials and also significant volunteer person-power through service learning by NDSU students. They have brought the barn repairs to a level of 40% complete.
View the NDSU service learning expedition to Welk Homestead, April 2014, here - https://www.flickr.com/photos/german-russian/sets/72157645311907371/
The big push to repair the barn comes on August 1-3, 2014, as volunteers come together on site intending substantially to complete the barn repairs. At the same time, citizens from across the region will be invited to visit the site, see the work being done, join in, and take part in other celebratory activities. This will be promoted and publicized both within North Dakota and across the country, resulting in major positive publicity for the site, as well as the completing of important work.
We need money primarily for materials (mostly two-inch lumber), secondarily for equipment rental and volunteer expenses. Our target is $4000. We seek support in amounts from $100 up. All funds raised will be received and disbursed by the Tri-County Tourism Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit, solely for work on the Welk Homestead buildings. The TCTA will issue each donor a receipt for tax purposes.
Help us with this good work! If you are a farmer, or a German from Russia, show your pride in heritage by donating to this project. If you care about the wellbeing of central North Dakota and want to promote it through grassroots heritage tourism, lend your support. Or perhaps you just care about our heritage here in North Dakota and want to show it in a tangible way.
Make your donation now. Make a donation of $100, and receive Lawrence Welk 1930, a signed & numbered offset lithograph by artist Gary P. Miller, depicting Lawrence Welk coming home to the Welk Homestead in his new 1930 Cord automobile. Make a donation of $500, and receive the same litho, mailed flat on a mat, ready for framing. View print here - http://heritagerenewal.org/docs/WelkPerk.pdf
Envision the results of your support: the first state historic site ever dedicated to the commemoration of homesteading and pioneer farming; the first state historic site ever devoted to the cultural heritage of the Germans from Russia; a major boost to grassroots heritage tourism on the northern plains. We can make this happen.