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The Legacy of a Grandfather’s Tools

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Michael Bjornberg leans forward holding a 150+ year-old handmade tool. This tray of tools belonged to Michael’s great-grandfather, Hans Larson Bjorneberg.

Hans immigrated to Minnesota from Ramsdalen, Norway, in July 1882 when he was 26 years old. In his trunk, he packed some personal belongings but also his livelihood, his carpentry tools. Hans learned his craft and made most of his tools in Norway; he packed them knowing they were key to starting up a new life in a new world.

Michael recently discovered the tools in his parents’ house, black with dirt and rust. He spent an entire winter cleaning, discovering and imagining how the tools were made and how they were used.

“Somebody cared – there is a real design and pride in the tools. It is an incredible experience to pick these up, emotional knowing they fit his hand. He made these - he wasn’t going somewhere to buy them – this was his livelihood, creating.”

It is a pride and passion for craft that runs in the family, Like his great-grandfather, grandfather and father, Michael is a maker. As an architect, he creates and preserves stories in built form for generations to come.

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