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Friesen Interpretive Centre

4140 Road 1 West, Altona, Manitoba, R0G, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2002/02/27

Context view of main elevation from the southeast of the Friesen Interpretive Centre, Neubergthal, 2010; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2011
Context View
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Other Name(s)

Friesen Interpretive Centre
Maison-grange Hamm
Hamm Housebarn

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1901/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Friesen Interpretive
Centre, a 1 1/2-storey dwelling with attached barn, is set in rural-like environs on Neubergthal's
single tree-lined street. The unified wood-frame structure, built in 1901, occupies a long narrow lot
within a row of period housebarns along the street that forms the traditional Mennonite farm village,
a national historic site of Canada. The municipal designation applies to the structure and its lot.

Heritage Value

The utilitarian
Friesen Interpretive Centre exemplifies the combined home/barn units built in farm villages that were
recreated in southern Manitoba in the 1870s and 1880s by Mennonite immigrants from Russia. In its siting,
practical and orderly design, construction methods, basic materials and interior layout and features,
the housebarn is a model of a centuries-old vernacular European building form adapted by Mennonites to
the settlement conditions they found in Russia and later in Manitoba. The partially restored structure,
built for Bernard and Helena Hamm and continuously occupied by Hamm and later Friesen family members
for nearly nine decades, also is integral to the traditional street-village layout in Neubergthal, a
national historic site of Canada recognized for its impressive collection of intact Mennonite housebarns.

Rural Municipality of Rhineland By-law No. 2002-5, February 27, 2002

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Friesen Interpretive Centre
site, including its traditional linear placement, include:
- the long narrow lot set perpendicular to
the village street, Road 1 West, in Neubergthal
- the housebarn at right angles to the street, with the
living quarters at the front and the barn at the west end

Key elements that define the building as a
model Mennonite housebarn include:
- the combined linear structure, with dwelling and barn joined end-to-end
by an interior hallway or `gang' with doors that separate the living quarters from the barn
- the
long, broad rectangular form, 1½ storeys high, with the barn slightly higher and, on the north side,
approximately three metres wider than the house
- the steeply pitched gable roofs, with a shed-roofed
section on the barn's north side
- the basic construction methods and materials, including the wood-frame
house, timber-frame barn, exterior walls of painted horizontal wood siding on both, cedar shingles, etc.
the number, orderly placement and variety of rectangular-shaped windows and doors on all elevations
the minimal ornamentation outside and in

Key elements that define the heritage character of the east-end
residence include:
- the large north and south dormers
- the verandah with plainly carved wooden posts
and delicate arched fretwork
- the openings, including the main-floor double-hung sash windows with wooden
shutters, symmetrically placed on three elevations, and the north-side Dutch door
- the main-floor plan
with four large rooms that revolve around a large brick stove
- the three upper-level bedrooms accessed
by a narrow enclosed staircase
- the variety of unpretentious materials, including the mud-and-horse-manure
plaster mixture on the perimeter walls, thick mud-brick partition walls, horizontal wood siding and vertical
wainscotting, board ceilings and floating plank floors laid on hard-packed clay
- modest features and
decorative finishes such as the exterior siding painted white with contrasting trim, the stencilled interior
floor boards, built-in pantry cupboards and living room china cabinet or 'glauss shaup', etc.

elements that define the heritage character of the west-end barn include:
- the south elevation with
its two large doors near the southwest corner, a third door and a set of ribbon windows; also, a north-side
Dutch door and rectangular-shaped windows on three elevations
- the exterior siding painted red with
contrasting trim
- the large interior space, including a loft and main floor, threshing/storage area
or 'sheen' and the 'oswesied' used for grain storage and raising poultry
- the exposed
post-and-beam interior framework, with mortise-and-tenon joinery and wooden pegs securing all major joints,
and the plank floors




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (MB)

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling
Food Supply
Barn, Stable or Other Animal Housing

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

RM of Rhineland, 72-2nd Street NE, Altona MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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