Marker Monday: The Skala Timber House
3rd St, Battle Creek, Madison County, Nebraska
The Joseph and Katherine Severa Skala house, built near Battle Creek by 1869, is a rare product of Czech-American culture. Discovered inside a house being demolished in 1968, the remains were moved here. The timber rooms have been preserved as found, and, except for the roof and two later openings, reflect the original construction.
The structure is a masterpiece of ancient Slavic carpentry skills so old they are rare even in Europe. This Czech technique is distinguished from similar methods by the use of thin planks set within a post-and-beam frame. Known as post-and-panel construction, this is the only example in Nebraska. The planks are so skillfully crafted that they rest perfectly upon each other. The unusual two-room arrangement is also an old Czech peasant cottage plan. Noteworthy interior features include the tie beams, and the diagonally-placed willow lathes with mud and straw plaster.
The present roof and porch were built following traditional Czech practice using old lumber donated by Mary Lucht, a descendant of the first pioneers. Window shutters were added for security.
If you'd like to read more about the house and other similar examples of traditional Czech carpentry, make sure to read Old Cuts in New Wood: Traditional Czech Carpentry in the Central Great Plains, an article from a 2003 issue of Nebraska History Magazine.