Unless you’re looking for it or know it’s there, it might be easy to drive right by Petrell Hall. It’s surrounded by a thick forest of trees with just a path for a driveway. The hall doesn’t look much different from when it was built near Fairbanks Township, Minnesota by Finnish immigrants in 1912.
In 1911, the Fairbanks Finnish Work-People’s Society purchased three acres of land from the Petrell family for $15 to build a hirsi haali — a log hall. It was built with hand-hewn log walls. The interior features painted pressed-tin interior walls and a stage that dominates one end of the hall.
For more than 100 years, the Finnish settlers and their descendants have used the hall for weddings, funerals, community dances, and plays.