Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A look at Christmas past & more inside the Alexander Faribault house December 5, 2017

 

FROM THE EXTERIOR, the simple wood-frame house set atop a hill along Minnesota State Highway 60 in Faribault could pass as just another old house. A porch fronts the house where green shutters flank windows. Nothing remarkable makes this place stand out—except the sign out front.

 

 

Pause to read that marker and you’ll learn this house was home to town founder Alexander Faribault from its construction in 1853 to 1856 when Faribault and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, and their children moved east across town.

 

“We send you all our best Respects…your truly friends Alex Faribault”

 

On a window sill in the dining room.

 

The parlor.

 

Every December the Rice County Historical Society hosts a weekend Christmas Open House in the building that once served as a home, post office, church, school, hotel, meeting place, store and community center. That annual affair adds an elegant flair in the style of French-Canadian holiday traditions. Alexander Faribault’s father, Jeane-Baptiste, was French-Canadian, his mother a Dakota. Like his father before him, Alexander was a fur trader.

 

 

 

While touring the home Saturday afternoon, I noted how a finely set dining table layered with a crocheted tablecloth and centered by a candied apple centerpiece brought such elegance to this aged home with planked wood floors. In the simplest of surroundings, layers of plates, fine silver and goblets presented a festive and impressive setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday décor aside, the authenticity of everyday life in the 1850s remains. Here, straw pokes through bedding. Handmade quilts drape trunk and beds. Kerosene lanterns punctuate furniture. Vintage portraits hang on walls. Horsehair cushions soften chairs.

 

An embroidered linen draped in an upstairs bedroom.

 

 

 

It is humbling to walk through this house, to consider the history made here in meetings, in discussions, in entertaining, in living within these walls as a family.

 

 

 

My community began here, in this spot along the Straight River, in this house built by a fur trader. Though unremarkable in outward appearance, this house holds the essence of a town that grew from humble beginnings into a thriving city that still values its French heritage.

 

BONUS PHOTOS:

The second floor showcases additional Faribault history including that of local businesses like the Brand Peony Farm…

 

…and these chairs crafted by Peterson’s Art Furniture Co.

 

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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12 Responses to “A look at Christmas past & more inside the Alexander Faribault house”

  1. Valerie Says:

    This looks lovely…I’m going to call to get some information today. I see one can tour the house during museum hours. I wonder if it will still be decorated for Christmas?

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    What a beautiful tour of such an amazing piece of history. Of course I love the teapot and the settings on the table the most.

  3. melirey96 Says:

    Everything looks so lovely.

  4. What an Exciting Place to Explore and Step Back Into Time & History – love all the pink throughout the house! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Beautiful pictures. I’m not sure which I like better the dress or the red table setting. What a fun historical place to tour.

  6. Miranda Says:

    John and I toured the Charles Grignon Mansion in Kaukauna on Sunday. He came from a family of French fur traders/Menomonee tribe. I imagine the house is from the same time period, mid 1800’s? After the tour, we both agreed we are lucky to have modern conveniences.


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