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Porter

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Chellberg Farm, 900 North Mineral Springs Road, Porter, Porter County, IN



See 20 maps of this location


B&W Photos

HB472955
BWPhotos 379615


Data Pages


Item Title


Location
900 North Mineral Springs Road, Porter, IN

Find maps of Porter, IN


Created/Published
Documentation compiled after 1933.

Notes
Survey number HABS IN-296
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (N490).
Significance: Built in 1885, the Chellberg farmhouse, with its typical T-shape gable-and-wing plan, is one of the few farmsteads which remain intact from the early Swedish immigrants who settled Baillytown, Indiana. The Chellbergs, originally spelled Kjellberg, arrived in Boston in 1864, traveled to Chicago, and within five years laid claim to the first half of their eighty acres. After a fire destroyed their first home and all of its contents, the family rebuilt in brick. The farmhouse is an example of the folk Victorian houses which proliferated across the Midwest after the Civil War with railroad expansion, yet one which represents its now scattered community more than national building trends. The house -- distinguished by its elliptical-arch windows, simple porch, and veneer of Porter-mad soft brick -- typified one of the house styles favored by the local Swedish community during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Of equal significance are several surviving early Chellberg outbuildings, including a granary, chicken-coop, and mortise-and-tenon barn. The period of successful agricultural activity for the Baillytown Swedes was relatively brief as the farmers discovered the limitations of the predominantly clay soil and as the descendants of the original farmers sought factory and railroad jobs, which were as abundant as their fields were fallow. In many instances, even those farmers who made the soil their central form of employment sought a variety of jobs as a supplement to their farm income, seldom wanting or able to be solely dependent upon crops for their livelihood. Maintaining forty to eighty acre farms was simply a necessary means to feed one's family. As the area ceased to be agricultural in the late 1920s and throughout the 30s, particularly because of the Depression, more and more farm-related structures became adapted for other uses or simply disappeared. The height of activity for the Chellberg Farm, however, spanned Charles Levin Chellberg's adult years, from the time that he began to develop the dairy after his marriage to Minnie Peterson in 1901, to his death in 1937. The farm saw years of prosperity and hardship, but all the while Charles retained horsepower as central to his farming practices. The encroachment of railroads, highways, heavy industry, housing subdivisions, and the National Lakeshore largely erased the small Swedish settlement of Baillytown and much of the rural character of the region by the mid-1970s. As a result, the Chellberg farm and family history have come to represent much of the Swedish and early agricultural heritage of the area that has otherwise been nearly forgotten. The Chellberg family shared not only the cultural and religious background of most of their neighbors, the families also intermarried and created a network and bond that survives as an intangible part of the region's history. A surprising number of descendants of the early families still live in the region and see the farm as a physical connection to their ethnic and rural past. The family maintained ownership of the farm until 1972, when the land and buildings were acquired by the Department of the Interior for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Collection
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

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