The farm's first house, a grand, three-story building, burned in 1905. The following year, the one seen on today's tours was built.
This much-smaller house served as a summer home for ten years, and between 1917 and 1920, Charles and Evangeline lived there full time. While never divorced, C. A. and Evangeline led separate lives, with young Charles spending time in both Detroit and summers on the farm he so loved.
Damaged by fans
Empty after the family moved away from Little Falls in 1920, the house was heavily damaged by souvenir-seekers when the young flyer became a worldwide celebrity in 1927. Lindbergh’s boyhood friend Martin Engstrom remembered:
"People were just wild — they acted like they were mad around here. He’d landed there in Paris. ... The minute he landed over there, I loaded up a bunch of lumber, nails, some padlocks, and came down to the home. I boarded up the windows, went down in the basement and put a big bar across the double garage doors, nailed that down with some 20-penny nails, and was pretty well satisfied that they can’t get in because we didn’t want anybody in there. I hadn’t been home any more than a half hour and somebody called up and said ‘you know people are in that home down there.’ I got in my truck and I went down, and there were all kinds of people in there. They boosted a guy up and cracked that big window."
Souvenir seekers stormed the house and scratched their names into woodwork, broke windows and damaged or carried off the few Lindbergh furnishings left by the family when they vacated the home. According to Victor Christgau, head of the WPA in Minnesota, "Lindbergh’s birthplace soon became an unprotected mecca for his admirers and within a very short time a great damage had been done by souvenir collectors.”
Donated to the state
Beginning in September 1928, a group of citizens in Little Falls requested that Charles Lindbergh and his family allow for the purchase of his childhood home to begin the process of making the estate into a state park. The Lindbergh family gave the house and 110-acre farm on the Mississippi River to the state of Minnesota in 1931 — to honor, at Charles’s insistence, his father C.A. Lindbergh Sr., a former congressman and Minnesota political leader. Martin Engstrom, Little Falls businessman and personal friend of Charles, was appointed to serve as the first superintendent of Lindbergh State Park.
The state repaired and painted the house, then enclosed it with a steel fence to prevent vandalism. The land was redeveloped into a state park.
The restoration of the Lindbergh family home was one of the first Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects in Little Falls. When the restoration project began in 1936, it was to cost $23,777 and would employ between 40 and 50 men throughout the summer.
The WPA teamed up with the State Park Commission to do the project. According to a 1937 WPA progress report, the house was repainted, missing foundation stones replaced, and broken furniture repaired or replaced. They also added new elements, which the Minnesota Historical Society removed many years later, such as a front and side stairway and concrete front walk.
Further restoration work, guided by Charles Lindbergh and his half-sister Eva Lindbergh Christie Spaeth, returned the house to its 1906-1920 appearance.
In 2015-2016, nine months of restoration work was done: repainting the house exterior, repairing interior plaster walls, lead paint removal, and upgrading the house’s electrical systems. In addition, the site's 1930s Works Progress Administration building roof was rebuilt.
The house was opened to public visits beginning in 1931, and began offering tours in 1957. The Minnesota Historical Society took over management of the house and adjoining property in 1969, and it became a National Historic Landmark the following year. The museum was opened in 1973 in a ceremony featuring a speech by Lindbergh himself.
Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh. New York: Berkley Books, 1998.
Charles A. Lindbergh and Family Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Clarence Tuller Oral History. 20 March 2007.
Little Falls Daily Transcript.
Lindbergh, Charles A. “Some Remarks at Dedication of Lindbergh State Park Interpretive Center.” (PDF) Minnesota History 43, no. 7 (Fall 1973): 275–276.
“Records of the Work Projects Administration [WPA].” National Archives. www.archives.gov