The Hutmacher Farmstead in Dunn County, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

Green is the new black as more and more people adjust their lifestyles in the hopes of throwing global warming off its track. From fuel efficient cars to buying organic, being environmentally aware has become one of the nation’s hottest trends. And who would have guessed that tucked away in a western county of a plains state a German Russian family would be making Al Gore proud decades before his activist streak?
In 1911, Frank Hutmacher and his family emigrated from Russia and settled in Dunn County, North Dakota, where the construction of an environment friendly stone-slab home began. Using only what the prairie had to offer, Frank Hutmacher set about building a home of sandstone slabs that features a roof of branches, brush, straw, and clay. Presented with limited resources, Frank did what he could to provide shelter for his immigrant family while also blending into the area’s natural surroundings.
Environmentally safe building hasn’t changed much since then. Modern green architecture still puts to use sustainable building materials, and building techniques that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Although, examples of modern green buildings are slightly less obvious than the earthy Hutmacher farmsite; modern green homes can be built from recycled or all natural materials, such as cardboard or clay bricks.
The currently standing Hutmacher home was constructed mostly in 1928 and 1930, but prior construction had begun when the family immigrated in 1911. As the years passed, various additions were built, and as time wore into the 50s and the 60s, the Hutmachers continued to live in and maintain their earthen home. Although difficult to fathom now, the Hutmacher family lived without electricity until 1961, when the house was wired to run electric appliances. This stone-slab home was comfortably lived in for almost 70 years until it was finally abandoned in 1979.

North Dakota State University students working to preserve the Hutmacher Farmstead in Dunn County, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

The Hutmacher home is earthen, energy efficient and environment friendly; three aspects of going green that are often difficult to accomplish in modern green architecture. The building materials were gathered directly outside the Hutmachers’ front door, making annual repairs to damaged walls and roof simple. But best of all, the various buildings on the Hutmacher farmsite blend almost seamlessly into the prairie setting.

Dunn Country, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

This simple perfection can be appreciated by even the most hardened city dweller as one sets sight upon the Hutmacher farmstead. Eyes flow easily from the prairie grass, to the stone walls, to the earthen roof, and finally to the sky. Beautiful, natural and environmentally safe, the Hutmacher farmsite is a historical example of what it means to go green.
– I wrote this back in 12 March 2008 when I was still Ann E. Erling, sans the Gofus. I wrote it for some North Dakota publication. Not sure if it ever got published, but here it is. In the almost 4 years since I wrote this story, The Hutmacher Farmstead’s preservation. I’m planning on following up with the Hutmacher Farmstead’s people and writing us all an update.

A couple weeks ago we did a poll on unpaid internships and whether or not Musely’s readers were happy to work for free or were regretting their glorified slavery.

Check out the charts below and learn about Musely readers and their internships.

When Ryan and I first started dating we went on a weekend trip to Paris. Oh, I know, oh la la is right. Ryan had never been to Paris before, so we hit up all the typical Parisian sites, but I insisted on one stop: I wanted to see Oscar Wilde’s tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

The place is huge: winding paths, soooo many graves and although it’s a cemetery, it was really interesting to wander through. I gave Ryan the map to navigate. In the 3 years since meeting, I have learned that Ryan has a terrible sense of direction. Looking back, I realize now how hard he was trying to find the place – and after an hour of searching, we found it.

Ryan looking at a map in front of Wilde's tomb in Paris. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Wilde’s tomb stone was designed by Jacob Epstein – it depicts an angel who appears to be in flight, his wings trailing behind him. The angel originally had male genitalia, but has since been vandalized. I think it looks a bit Art Deco-esque, and Wikipedia informs me that Epstein’s style was considered avant-garde at the time.

Oscar Wilde's tomb stone in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

Since the ‘90s, it’s been a bit of a… tradition…? to kiss Wilde’s grave marker, leaving behind a lipstick mark. Wilde’s tomb is covered with kisses of all different colors and sizes. A sweet, cult tradition? A strange tourist attraction? A form of affection? Either way, the kisses are starting to damage the stone.

Kisses on Wilde's tomb in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, said the lipstick had become a “serious problem” because the grease sinks into the stone. “Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away,” he said.

After its most recent cleaning, the tomb will reopen with a glass barrier protecting it from greasy lips. I’m sure people will continue to kiss the glass, but will it ever be the same?

As a pro-historic-preservationist, I totally support the glass barrier. It’s someone’s grave, for goodness sakes! Show some respect!

What do you think?
And while we’re answering questions, what other bizarre, cultish and awesome “tourist traditions” can you think of? We’re talking Old Wive’s Tales/Myths/Ritualistic things that we read about in travel books. Like, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland for the gift of eloquence. Or throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain to return to Rome someday.

Any ideas?

It’s not often that you see books that look like this:

Next to the 'poetree' sat a paper egg lined with gold and a scatter of words which, when put together, make "A Trace of Wings" by Edwin Morgan. Photo Credit

Someone has been leaving beautifully intricate sculptures at Edinburgh, Scotland libraries and museums. The first popped up at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, and since then The National Library of Scotland, and so on and so on, until most recently The Writer’s Museum found their own little sculpture.

The tag on this reads: To @edbookfest 'A gift' This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas...... & festivals xx. Photo Credit

All are crafted from books – depicting everything from a tree to a bird to a dinosaur. Cards left with the sculptures refer to the pieces or art as “gift” to “In support of libraries, books, words, ideas and those places that house our treasures……” And no one has yet to come forward to claim the art as their own.

The pieces are mysterious and very clever.

The sculpture left at the National Library of Scotland depicted a gramophone seated above a coffin – it was all carved into a copy of Ian Rankin’s “Exit Music”. Get it? Get it?

A gramophone and a coffin, sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin's Exit Music, and again deposited anonymously. The tag in this case read: For @natlibscot - A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..... (& against their exit). Photo Credit

In a note, the artist reveals that she’s a woman, that after ten sculptures she’s completed this project, and that the pieces are gifts to “special places”. I’m curious if the libraries and museums lucky enough to get a book sculpture will keep theirs on display or auction them off.

These pieces are BEAUTIFUL – I’d love to own one. And this mystery project combines so many things I adore:

1. creativity
2. supporting wonderful institutions
3. beautiful art
4. books!

Check out to see some really amazing photos of the pieces.

Unknown Aussie soldier, WWI, from the Australian War Memorial collection.

One of my favorite blogs,

Historically attractive men.
There is something so appealing about daguerreotype photographs.
And something so appealing about attractive late 19th century, early 20th century men.

Check it out!

I know, I know, this is old news, like 3 years old news, but I recently re-watched this video and just HAD to share.

Photograph of Jesus by Laurie Hill in association with the Getty Images Short & Sweet Film Challenge from Hulton Archive on Vimeo.

I found this video a couple years ago, and forwarded it to my old colleagues at the North Dakota State Archives and Research Library. In places like that, an important aspect of your job is assisting researchers. Some researchers know what they’re doing – they are experienced genealogists or college professors – but many are just curious, college students or first-time researchers. Many of the research requests we got at the ND State Archives were amusing – at best.
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On the 5th, The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum went live. And now, two days later (I know, I know), Musely has a recap of the live press conference and the museum itself.On December 5th, I watched a live stream of the press conference announcing the launch of the Valentino Museum. Anne Hathaway was a funny host – she immediately revealed that she had been at the Kennedy Center Honors in the DC the night before and hadn’t slept – you could tell, she was a bit bumbling, but so beautiful and charming and the perfect spokeswoman for this innovative museum. And that dress she was wearing — so, so, so beautiful.

Anne Hathaway wasn’t the only celebrity to grace the stage. At one point, Anne pulled Hugh Jackman out of the crowd. Franca Sozzani, the Italian editor of Vogue spoke, and Amit Sood, the creator of Google Art Project, compared The Valentino Museum to the Google Art Project and how the Museum’s content is focused on fashion, art and culture. “Immersive experience, go deep into the work of the artist,” commented Sood.

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Looking for that perfect for the:

1) history buff
2) art lover
3) academic
4) culture snob
5) eclectic

… in your life?

Look no further! We here at Musely have compiled a short list of Top Ten gift suggestions for this holiday season.
Yes, you’re welcome.

1. Jackie Kennedy inspired jewelry – The Smithsonian Institution shop offers around a dozen Jackie Kennedy inspired pieces, including jewelry, a cardigan, handbags and those iconic sunglasses. Personally, I’m a fan of the legendary three-strand pearls, the copy of the bangle that JFK gave to Jackie as an engagement gift, and the replica of the Cartier Tank watch that Jackie wore in mourning for JFK.

This reproduction of Jackie Kennedy's legendary faux-pearl necklace carries 158 handpainted, European glass pearls on hand-knotted silken cords. Photo Credit Smithsonian Institution

ps. Jackie O’s three-strand pearls were fake and were auctioned off in 2010 for $211,000. So, I mean, really, this replica isn’t too far off.

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Just one more (short) break from regular Musely programming:

Click HERE to learn more about what The God’s Child Project is doing to prevent and treat Childhood Malnutrition, and how YOU can help little babies like Alberto:

Alberto upon arrival at Casa Jackson. Photo Credit: The God's Child Project

Baby Alberto! Photo Credit The God's Child Project.

Yay! Babies!

I wanted to take a moment from regular Musely postings and write about a cause close to my heart.

© Tayler Aubin

I’m not a particularly shy person and never have been, but when I started 9th grade at my high school it was like all the courage was sucked out of me. I vividly remember my first day of class, my unsteady feet under my corduroy skirt and clinging to my few friends I knew from grade school.

A couple days into school I accidentally smeared charcoal all over the front of my shirt AND my only friends were out sick that day (amazing, I know, that all 3 were sick on the same day). It was a bad day. I was embarrassed and lost – I remember scanning the lunch room for a place to sit and feeling like I couldn’t breathe, like everyone was watching me, like I was some kind of helpless, friendless weirdo.

So, I ate lunch in a bathroom stall.

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