National Historic Sites of Cottage Grove

1. Schilling Archaeological District

  • The Schilling Archaeological District is an archaeological site located on the eastern tip of Lower Grey Cloud Island. The site includes a series of 34 conical mound.
  • 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 and archaeological surveys on this site yielded thick-walled ceramics (pictured above), pot sherds, stone tools, fire cracked rocks, fire and reuse pits.
  • Oneota, a prehistoric culture of the upper Midwest, (1150-1700 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 in the 1850s and produced limestone products for early settlers until around 1900.
  • The Kiln was used to burn limestone to make quicklime used in fertilizer, plaster, and mortar.
  • 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 potentially 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 1947, 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 the late 1860s 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. Cass Gilbert, a renowned American Architect, was believed to be the architect that designed the expansions on the stie. The expansions occurred in stages and the buildings were expaned to their current size between 1911 and 1917. The house is currently approximately a 12,000 square feet and 26-room mansion.
  • According to the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 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.
  • Although not documented, Severance’s house was reported to have been a meeting place for government officials. It was reported that during the 1920s drafts of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact were written by Kellog at this house.
  • 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.
  • 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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