Mennonite Heritage Village

Flexible Foundations Part I

Sometimes physical events are symbolic of deeper meanings. On the house floor of Mennonite Heritage Village’s (MHV) Chortitz housebarn there is a growing bulge. Over the last 45 years, the perimeter of the house has settled into the ground while the joists in the centre of the foundation have remained the same. This has caused the floor to rise considerably in the middle. Instead of looking around at the beauty of the rooms, guests are just trying to get their bearings as they mount a small hill in the middle of the house.

Generally, foundations don’t have much give and if the problem is serious enough it may mean it is time to move the building to a new foundation. Fortunately for MHV, the foundation of the Chortitz housebarn has some adaptability. A local foundation expert determined that we can trim the wood joists over the foundation’s retaining wall to a proper bearing load for the house above. The flexible foundation of the Chortitz housebarn, which can adapt to change around its perimeter, is symbolic of how our ‘old world heritage’ can adapt to meet ‘new world change’.

The shifting of the housebarn foundation also caused cracks in the central brick oven, which provides cooking and heat for the entire house. So, once we are able to adjust the foundation and replace part of the floor, we also hope to restore its central hearth. Wouldn’t it be wonderful it to have people using it in winter, throwing a big log in the enclosed fireplace and enjoying waffles for breakfast?

The Chortitz Housebarn is our major fundraising project for 2020. We need to raise about $44,000 for the foundation, clay oven restoration and for improvements to the exterior woodwork including painting the whole house and barn. Feel free to make your donation online, by phone or by dropping it off. We could also use some help with painting too!