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Housing a piece of history

Cracks throughout the shingles of the rooftop have widened and the white-wash painted boards now covering the windows are peeling, revealing the same rotting as the logs surrounding the home. At 144 years old, the Carbine house located on the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds certainly looks its age.

But what used to wear its age so well, the 1868 built home has now closed its creaking doors to tours and the Crow Wing County Historical Society fears it’s shutting the door on a piece of Brainerd history, too.

“We (the historical society) just haven’t been able to raise the funds needed to fix up this (Carbine) house,” said Historical Society Administrator Pam Nelson. “And the saddest part is that if we don’t get the funds to help restore it, we have to tear it down.

“We would be losing a piece of our town’s history.”

Originally listed at 624 Oak Street, Nelson said the house first belonged to Duncan and Ella Carbine, who made it their home for many years including time prior to Brainerd’s incorporation as a city in 1871.

Additions and expansions were built not on to the house, but rather around it, with the original log structure discovered in the 1960’s when the YMCA began dismantling the larger scaled home.

“This log part of the home was actually just built around in brick,” said Nelson, who noted that the Carbine home is just one seven historical buildings on the fairgrounds. “So of course that didn’t do wonders for keeping the house in good condition and the Minnesota winters are very harsh on the logs.

“So right now it’s just not safe to let people go inside which is sad. There’s a lot of work to be done to get it back to that state.”

Nelson said the whole structure needs to be reinforced and a new roof needs to be added along with some log replacements and chinking. Cost of the restitution, Nelson said, will roll in around $30,000. But the cost of losing the history in the home would be much more.

“We have been trying desperately to get the funds to help make this a place people can go inside and visit again,” said Nelson. “People love to go inside and see that part of history. We have thought about doing a replica home, which is around $50,000, but it’s not the same thing.

“It loses that in the fact that it’s just a replica, it’s not the log house that had the original history and appeal.”

Donations to help restore the Carbine house can be made at the Crow Wing County Historical Society.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).