Preserving the unique German heritage built into the Lutze housebarn

By Joel Waldinger | November 8, 2022


It’s designated as one of Wisconsin’s ten most endangered buildings, and the fact that is still standing is amazing in and of itself. At 110 feet long and 30 feet wide, the Lutze Housebarn sits on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The housebarn is located near Centreville and is one of the last remaining structures of its kind in the United States.

A housebarn is a house and a barn together. Living quarters on one end, and the cattle living quarters on the other end. That’s especially convenient in Northern climates like Wisconsin where the farmer never has to venture outside to care for the livestock.

Richard Lutze’s great grandparents built this housebarn in 1849 after immigrating from Saxony, Germany. They bought the land from the Sheboygan lighthouse keeper. Richard and his wife Sarah are the fifth generation of Lutzes to own the housebarn, and they just turned it over to their son who is the sixth generation.

After nearly 175 years the Lutzes needed a plan to preserve this piece of German heritage. The Centreville Settlement is a non-profit group dedicate to restoring the housebarn while preserving original tools and techniques. It is the traditional fachwerk German architecture that makes this housebarn unique.

The volunteer work is laborsome and time consuming. Everything has to fit exactly. So, the structure leans on itself and it is almost indestructible. Year after year, volunteers have been a weekend workforce restoring the housebarn.

They are more than 30 years into the renovation and estimating another 10 to go before it eventually opens for tours.

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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