INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 02, 2013, 09:22 AM

Icelandic church in North Dakota added to National Register

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota church that the State Historical Society says is the oldest Icelandic church in the country has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota church that the State Historical Society says is the oldest Icelandic church in the country has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Construction of the Vikur Lutheran Church in the town of Mountain began in 1884 on land donated by the Rev. Paul Thorlaksson, who helped establish an Icelandic-American community in northeastern North Dakota that still thrives today.

The church is a key part of Mountain's annual Deuce of August Icelandic festival, which is more than a century old and often draws people from Iceland. The country's prime minister attended this year's festival.

"We have busloads of people from Iceland that come each summer. When they look at it, they say, 'Uh-huh, very similar to the church we have back in Iceland,'" said Loretta Bernhoft, a church member who was part of the registration effort.

The white church, which has an Icelandic flag stained-glass window, initially wasn't much different than a log cabin, Bernhoft told the Grand Forks Herald. An addition that includes the spire and the sacristy was added later, she said.

The National Register is the federal government's list of properties it deems worthy of recognition and preservation. Other recent North Dakota additions are an auditorium in Edinburg built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938 and Whitestone Hill near Kulm.

The Edinburg auditorium hosted numerous community events and sports competitions through the years and now houses a hardware store, according to the Historical Society.

Whitestone Hill is where U.S. Cavalry troops from Iowa and Nebraska battled with Dakota Sioux warriors in September 1863, in what historians say was the last major battle between soldiers and American Indians east of the Missouri River. Twenty-two soldiers and more than 100 Indians died.

Tags: