National Historic Sites of Cottage Grove

1. Schilling Archaeological District

  • The Schilling Archaeological District is a Pre-Columbian Native American archaeological site located on private property on Lower Grey Cloud Island.
  • Artifacts found on the site are from the Early Woodland Period to the Late Prehistoric Period (100 BCE to 1700 CE).
  • It is the only know Early Woodland site recorded in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area corridor.
  • Excavations on this site yielded thick-walled ceramics, and stone tools, including knives, hammerstones, and celts.
  • Oneota, a prehistoric culture of the upper Midwest, (1150-17000 CE) are believed to have temporarily camped, and inhabited this site during the summer while they traveled north to hunt and trade.

2. Grey Cloud Lime Kiln

  • The Grey Cloud Lime Kiln is located on the banks of the Mississippi River on Grey Cloud Island.
  • The Kiln was built around 1846 and active until 1902. It was used to burn limestone by a woodfire to make quicklime, a fine, gritty powder.
  • The calcium in limestone promoted crop production as it corrected the highly acidic soil of the area and supplied other plant nutrients. It is believed that this was the primary use of the kiln.
  • First built, the Kiln was about 20 square feet at its base and 35 feet tall.
  • Production in the kiln ceased (possibly) due to a declining demand for limestone as a building material.
  • The last load of lime still sits in the bottom of the kiln, believed to have been left there to prevent the interior collapse of the walls. Unfortunately, three walls of the tower fell after a flood in the area in 2014.

3. John P. Furber House

  • Official National Register documentation gives the John P. Furber house a construction date of 1871, although, the Washington County Historical Society dates it to 1854, which would make it the oldest standing building in Cottage Grove.
  • John moved to the village in 1851, following his brothers Joseph W. and Theodore, who arrived in 1846.
  • John P. Furber ran the general store, and his family held other prominent roles in the village. John and Joseph Furber officially platted the village of Cottage Grove in 1871, which today we know as ‘Old Cottage Grove’.
  • In 1940, Jacob and Arlene Vandenberg acquired the property and built the 130-foot-long dairy barn that is standing today in 1947. The barn held 50 cattle until 1971.
  • In 2010, the current owners bought the land and buildings, and renovated the barn to the grandeur that attracts event venue seekers of all kinds.


4. Cordenio Severance House (Cedarhurst Mansion)

  • The Cordenio Severance House, also known as Cedarhurst, was first built in 1868, shortly after the Civil War, as a simple farmhouse for Charles O. Fanning.
  • Fanning willed the property to his granddaughter, Mary Severance, who married Cordenio Severance. Cordenio Severance was a successful Twin Cities attorney and Mary was a prominent suffragist and civil rights activist.
  • In 1886, the Severances began expanding the house to serve as their summer residence. Eventually, after more expansions that would occur up through 1917, the house became the 12,000 square foot, 26-room mansion it is today.
  • Cordenio was a close friend and business partner of Frank B. Kellog, US Senator, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ambassador to Great Britain, and U.S. Secretary of State for President Calvin Coolidge and Cushman Kellog Davis, Governor of Minnesota, US Senator, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and scholar.
  • Because of his friendship with Kellog, Severance would offer his summer home as a private meeting location for U.S. politicians and foreign diplomats, and even the Queen of Romania.
  • Four presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and William Howard Taft all visited Cedarhurst. In addition, CIA meetings and international policy meetings with foreign dignitaries were once held within its walls.
  • It is believed that Cedarhurst is the drafting site of documents that would become the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an agreement not to use war to resolve disputes in the hopes of preventing another world war, and documents that would later form the United Nations.
  • In 1925, Mary and Cordenio died, and as they had no children, the property was sold. The purchasers restored the house to its original magnificence, making it a popular event venue.
  • On August 2, 2021, Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions purchased the property. They plan to redevelop some of it, while maintaining the historic mansion.
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