"North House" is well into its second decade. The campus on the Grand Marais Harbor supports over 225 courses and 120 instructors, attracting students from all over the country; indeed, the world. The range of northern crafts courses taught each year – from basketry to northern ecology to woodworking, from ½ day to two weeks in duration, all have one thing in common. In each, there is meaningful satisfaction that comes from creating with the hands, the heart and the mind.
North House Folk School History, a non-profit supported primarily through memberships, is also the community gathering place for live music and dances, potlucks, films, festivals, ski swaps, boat auctions, baking outdoors in the firebrick oven – simple, important stuff. The reach of North House extends far beyond the open-air timbered structures where most of the activity takes place. It travels with each student who goes home with an experience that cannot be easily duplicated anywhere else, that of self-discovery. And yes, you really can bury yourself in your work here – the Build Your Own Casket class is one of the most popular!
If timbers could talk no doubt, there would be stories. Two timbered buildings, built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp as warehouses for the Forest Service, stand on the edge of the Grand Marais harbor. Giant saw logs rolling into the harbor, ready to be rafted and pulled across the big lake to sawmills in Wisconsin. Work crews sharing tales as they bedded down for the night on the loft’s wooden floors. Tools–planting bars to sharpened two-man saws–stockpiled for the moment and waiting for the coming season. If timbers could talk.
Built as workspace on a working harbor, the buildings served an important purpose for decades. Built by the hands of experienced woodworkers, their elemental timbered trusses and rugged black iron tie bolts almost seem to speak–durability, beauty, purpose, simplicity.