Chippewa Falls School Evaluation

  • Location: Chippewa Falls, MN
  • Client: Terrace Mill Foundation

Project Highlights

  • Wood-framed structure originally built in 1906
  • Fieldstone foundation with lime mortar


The Chippewa Falls Schoolhouse is a one-room wood-framed structure, bearing on a fieldstone foundation. It is typical of turn-of-the-century rural schools with its 25’x35’ main room and a small vestibule and coatroom extending from the building facade. The roof is hand-framed intersecting gables, topped by a small bell tower. A local preservation group wanting to turn the structure into a museum asked MBJ to perform a structural evaluation of the school’s current condition. The assessment included investigation of visible deterioration to the foundation and the wood-framed first floor, determination of the live load capacity of the building, and recommendations for repair and replacement. Detailed site measurements of the structural floor framing included a survey of modifications and deterioration that would adversely affect the structure. The wood framing was measured for moisture content, and selected pieces were probed for internal deterioration. The fieldstone foundation is an early masonry foundation, with a lime mortar cementing the stones together and providing a waterproof barrier. In this case, the mortar was sufficiently missing and deteriorated as to require a new foundation be installed. The evaluation report described the schoolhouse construction type, its original live load capacity, observed deterioration, and estimated current live load capacity. The report further recommended repair of the building to support intended future loads and the information required for a follow-on repair project.