Welk Homestead State Historic Site
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The Welk Homestead, located northwest of Strasburg, interprets agriculture in the early 20th century, German-Russian culture and architecture, and the career of bandleader Lawrence Welk, who grew up on the farm.
The 6.11 acre site is the homestead of Ludwig and Christina Welk, who immigrated from near Odessa, Russia, in 1893. Nearly 120,000 people of German heritage left Russia for the US between 1870 and 1920, mainly due to political pressures. Free or cheap land drew many to North Dakota, settling mainly in the south central counties of Emmons, Logan, and McIntosh.
The house was built in 1899 of dried mud brick known as batsa, a common construction method of the Germans from Russia both on the Russian steppe and the North American prairie. Additional architectural features also point to the family's German-Russian heritage. A summer kitchen, outhouse, blacksmith shop, and granary, as well as a barn moved onto the site in about 1949, are also open seasonally.
The Welk family grew wheat and other crops, raised chickens to sell eggs, and kept cows to sell cream. Their sixth child, Lawrence Welk, was born on March 11, 1903. He learned to play the accordion from his father and attended the local Catholic school, where classes were conducted in German. Lawrence left the farm in 1924 to pursue a career in music. In 1955 he made his debut on national television. The Lawrence Welk Show was produced for twenty-six years, and reruns can still be seen throughout the country as well as internationally.
Ludwig and Christina Welk retired to Strasburg in 1928. Their youngest son, Michael, and his family operated the farm until 1965.