Lewis and Clark passed north of Bowman at the start of the 1800s. Later, settlers from the eastern U.S. and immigrants from Europe began settling the area after the Homestead Act of 1862 was enacted. Union Prairie’s congregation was founded in 1908 and initially held services in Norwegian. As the population dwindled due to bad farming years and the changing practices of the farming business, Union Prairie Church was closed in 1994. The building was moved to the Bowman museum location to preserve it and show an important early part of pioneer life in North Dakota.
As mentioned in the Icelandic Evangelical post, the oldest Icelandic Church in north america is Vikur Lutheran Church in Mountain, North Dakota. The church was established in 1884, and the Gothic Revival wood frame church was dedicated in 1887. The church was later moved about 100 feet in 1947 to add a concrete basement. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and the application has a very detailed history of the early Icelandic settlements in North America.
Icelandic Evangelical Church is in Pembina, North Dakota at the northern U.S. border with Canada. It’s the second oldest Icelandic Church in North America with the oldest (by a year) being the Vikur Church in Mountain, North Dakota which I also was able to visit. Settlers from Iceland started a colony in this area and built the church in 1885. Eventually the Icelandic population diminished and the church was sold (1937) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. John. who added the Byzantine dome (1957) and redecorated the interior. The church is located between two rivers and flooded in 1948 and more recently in 1997. Today, the church is owned by the Fort Pembina Historical Society.
The Trondhjem Norwegian Lutheran Church is near Lonsdale, Minnesota, about 35 miles south of Minneapolis. The church was built in 1899, replacing a 20 year old building in order to add more interior space. The style is a mix of Greek Revival and Gothic Revival with some medieval Norwegian elements thrown in for good measure. The accompanying cemetery’s oldest graves date from the beginning period of the church (1877). A very detailed history of both this church and the Norwegian immigration patterns into Minnesota is included on the National Register of Historic Places website.
Zion Lutheran Church is another listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian Gothic church was built in 1883, and it served the Norwegian immigrants who settled widely in the area. The building has faced some battles with the weather over the years – a tornado shifted the Victorian Gothic church off its foundation in 1902 and rods were added to stabilize the building. Lightning also hit the church in 1979 and burned the spire down to the belfry, but it was rebuilt. There is a cemetery next to the church where many of these early settlers were buried.
This church and cemetery below named Bethany Lutheran was only a few minutes away, but seems to have been built much later in 1955.
A placard on the front wall of Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church tells a little of the story of this rural Minnesota church – “This Church, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ham Lake, as it is called on the National Register of Historic Places, has a rich history. Founded in 1872, the building was constructed on land donated by Johan and Fredrika Magnuson shortly after their daughters Alida and Emilia died of typhoid fever and a need for a cemetery was realized. Originally laid to rest in their front yard, when the church was completed, the two coffins were moved and became the first graves in the cemetery. When the church was first built there were no local pastors, thus whenever the families in the church wanted to hold a service someone would have to travel to Anoka [Minnesota] to pick up the pastor and bring him back. Since that time, the church as expanded and required new buildings. But despite its now limited use, the old church remains an important part of the history of our saviours Lutheran church.”
The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord Chapel is in the village of Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. In the 1800s Russian settlers established several villages along the Cook Inlet and many remained here even after Alaska was sold to the United States. There was a church in Ninilchik as early as 1846 when the village was founded and later this church above replaced it in 1901. The exterior features onion domes and orthodox styled crosses. It’s included on the National Register of Historic Places.