Fundraising begins for Larsson-Ostlund House

NEW SWEDEN, Maine — The New Sweden Historical Society is gearing up for a major project to repair the foundation of the Larsson-Ostlund House in New Sweden, which partially collapsed last year.

As part of the fund-raising effort, the Historical Society, along with Cary Medical Center, will present Swedish folksinger and songwriter Sofia Talvik in concert at the Caribou Performing Arts Center on Easter Sunday, April 16, at 6 p.m. Talvik is currently touring the United States promoting her new album, “Big Sky Country.”

Carolyn Hildebrand, former president and now a member of the New Sweden Historical Society, said the effort to maintain the Larsson-Ostlund House will help maintain a cultural heritage.

“This building is not only an historical property, it is truly part of our Swedish heritage,” said Hildebrand. “Preserving the original building is not only important for those of us who marvel at the workmanship today but for those who will come after us looking to rediscover their Swedish past here in New Sweden.”

Originally built in 1888 by Noak Larsson, the house was bought by George Ostlund in 1910 and remained in his family until 1989, when it was purchased by the Maine Swedish Colony. It is a unique, two-story log home and is on the Federal Register of Historic Places. It was added to the registry on July 26, 1989.

The original section of the house is a two-story log structure, finished in wooden clapboards. Logs were fitted using traditional Swedish dovetail joinery and extended through a second story, continuing all the way up into the gables. This construction was very unusual, Hildebrand said, and as far as can be determined no other houses in the state are constructed in this manner.

New Sweden, originally known as Township 15, Range 3, was settled on July 23, 1870, by 51 Swedes. The settlement occurred following the Aroostook War of 1842 because the state of Maine wanted to secure the wilderness of northern Maine above Caribou. W.W. Thomas, having served as President Lincoln’s War Ambassador to Sweden, and Maine Governor Joshua Chamberlain agreed on the idea of bringing hardy, hardworking, God-fearing Swedes to the area that would become New Sweden. The area here reminded the Swedes of home.

By 1880 the ‘Swedish Colony’ was a thriving community of 163 households and the program had drawn more than 1,000 immigrants to locations across the state to fill jobs left by westward settlers. By the time the Larsson-Ostlund House was built, the Swedes had expanded into Woodland, Perham, Caribou, Westmanland and Stockholm.

After the purchase of the house in 1989, the Maine Swedish Colony began renovations on the home. This past year saw the partial collapse of the stone foundation that runs parallel to the Station Road. Temporary repairs to shore up the home have been made and now the New Sweden Historical Society has begun a campaign to raise money to make permanent repairs to the foundation. The cost of the work that needs to be done has been estimated at $20,000.

Individuals, businesses or organizations that would like to support the Historical Society’s efforts to preserve the Larsson-Ostlund House may send tax deductible contributions to: The New Sweden Historical Society, P.O. Box 33, New Sweden, Maine 04762.

For information on the Easter Sunday concert contact the New Sweden Historical Society or call the Public Relations Office at Cary Medical Center 498-1112.

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