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Traditional craft school in Minnesota


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The spirit, mission and vision of the North House Folk School (North House) have captured the imagination of many people, from Lake Superior’s North Shore to Greater Minnesota and far beyond.  Traditional crafts of the northern hemisphere, combined with the stories and rich cultural history of its indigenous people, are the medium for providing creative and meaningful experiences for individuals, families and groups.  North House is inspired by Scandinavian “folkeshoskoles,” developed in Denmark during the mid-1800’s; life-long skills and traditions shared in a non-competitive environment are the foundation of the folk school concept.  In discovering the cultural heritage of the north, participants at North House integrate the technologies of the past with those of today, expanding their personal perspective and elucidating both the present and the future.

Early Years
The concept of a folk school on the north shore was an initiative begun by local citizens and volunteers.  Positive responses to initial course offerings (including Inuit kayak building, Scandinavian bowl carving and canoe paddle making) during 1995 and 1996 inspired both students and volunteers.  With enthusiasm for the school quickly growing, the volunteer Board of Directors founded the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota in January of 1997. 

As interest in its mission and participation in its programs grew, North House recognized the need to develop a campus that would support and nurture the creative spirit of the organization and its students. Working in partnership with the City of Grand Marais, North House secured grant funding to restore two historic waterfront buildings (owned by the City of Grand Marais), allowing it to create classrooms and office space.  Capitalizing on unexpected opportunities, the North House Board of Directors expanded the campus by investing first in adjacent property that included historic fishing buildings and two large docks that extend into Grand Marais’ historic harbor, and secondly, in a 50’ sailing schooner (thus extending the campus onto Lake Superior).  Today, one could easily mistake the campus for a folk school on Norway’s coast.

The school’s brief history has not been without its setbacks.  In March of 2001, the boat building shop was significantly damaged by a fire.  A surge of strong community support helped North House quickly recover from this loss.  In January of 2004, North House lost its historic fishing building when a fully-loaded semi lost its brakes and crashed into the structure.  Rebuilding took place, and by May 2006, the fisherman was back in his fish house and North House had a new classroom and bunk rooms for instructors.

Raise The Roof
In November of 2007, North House launched a multi-year campaign titled “Raise The Roof: The Campaign for North House Folk School.”  The focus of the project was to make major enhancements to the school’s campus, expand the endowment fund and build annual support. 

In just four short years we have gone from cutting the first timbers for a new milling shop, to raising timbers by hand for the Blue Building’s new entryway. Campus now has a woodworking and boat building space in our new milling shop; a lofted living space for our expanded internship program; a larger, enclosed blacksmith shop; a teaching kitchen with commercial-grade fixtures for foods coursework; and now the creation of a unifying, lake-friendly space in the Student Commons. Campus has become an evermore inspiring destination for students and a resource for our community.

Journey Ahead
North House Folk School is dedicated to the belief that the learning of traditional craft is a truly sustainable effort that will only become more important as time moves on.  We welcome students, supporters and volunteers as partners on the journey ahead - please stay in touch and get involved!



North House Folk School | P.O. Box 759 - 500 Highway 61 West | Grand Marais, Minnesota 55604
218-387-9762 | 888-387-9762 |

Basketry | Blacksmithing &  Tool Making | Boatbuilding | Clothing & Jewelry | Fiber Arts | Foods | Knitting
Music |
Northern Ecology | Outdoor Skills & Travel | Painting & Photography | Sailing | Shelter | Sustainable Living
Timber Framing |  Traditional Crafts Woodcarving | Woodworking &  Furniture Craft

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