Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Danish culture center gets new home

Danebo’s prime location overlooks the Mississippi River

What was once a nursing home on Minneapolis’ West River Parkway is being transformed into a Danish American cultural center. Its name, Danebo, means “home for Danes.” The Danish American Center, formerly located at 42nd and Cedar Avenue in south Minneapolis, has moved to 3030 West River Parkway.
Though the new center has no direct church ties, many members are also members of nearby St. Peder Lutheran Church. The congregation, located at 4600 E. 42nd Street, presents a Danish worship service each year during the Christmas season.

The stately brick Danebo building, originally an “old peoples’ home,” will provide facilities for Danish Amer-ican activities. Rooms formerly occupied by nursing home residents are being turned into offices, a library and space for other functions. An attractive “living room” with a welcoming fireplace remains an anchor to the past. A dining room and gathering room, each with a capacity for about 70, take up most of the lower level.

Activities at Danebo include Danish language classes, genealogy classes, a Danish movie night, weekly Wednesday luncheons and much more. (The day Metro Lutheran’s writer visited, the lunch consisted of a plate of shrimp, lunch meat and sliced hard-boiled eggs for creating one’s own open-face sandwiches plus cheeses and fruit, followed by a cream-filled cake for dessert.) Reservations for the lunches are required by Monday preceding the Wednesday lunch.
Upcoming holiday-related events include a Decem-ber 9 Christmas Gala and a festive December 16 Christ-mas dinner.

On the second floor, former bedrooms have been transformed into 14 rooms available for retreat groups and others (a minimum reservation for 10 individuals is required; rooms are not rented individually). Rentals are only made to groups in which at least one person holds membership or associate membership in the Danish American Fellow-ship. Room rentals of $35 per person include a continental breakfast.

Headquartered on the third floor is the Twin Cities Urban Folk School. That group, growing out of Danish/Scandinavian tradition of lifelong learning, conducts twice-weekly workshops. Topics include music, dance, crafts and discussion. School members include fiddlers, novel readers, folk-song singing, quilt makers, drummers and “talkers.”

As the former nursing home has undergone transformation, a number of projects have been taking place. One of those most visible from the outside was creation of five “rain gardens” on the grounds. Water from the building’s roof is channeled to collecting points. In addition to adding beauty to the grounds, these rain gardens have resulted in a reduction of more than $400 per month in the facility’s water/sewer bill from the city of Minneapolis. That reduction is related to city incentives for reducing the amount of drainage (from building roofs and hard surface areas) that goes into the city sewer system.

All the remodeling and upgrading is aimed at retaining the character of the original building, which dates to 1924. An addition built around 1950 includes elevator access to all four levels. Hallways feature art collected and donated over the years.

Guest rooms on the second level are named for cities or locations in Denmark. Furnishings range from traditional to “Ikea modern.” Board member and volunteer Suzanne Jebe notes with a twinkle in her eye, “The smallest room is named for Copenhagen, Denmark’s largest city.”
Said Jebe, “We’re a work in progress and rely on volunteers.”

Some of the events currently held at Danebo include wedding anniversaries, groom’s dinners, rehearsal dinners and more. But, it’s important to keep the feel of the place. Jebe said, “The first time I ate here, it felt like I was eating in my grandmother’s house again.”

A plus for the facility is that in addition to street parking and its own lots with 30 parking stalls, it has excellent relations with adjacent Minnehaha Academy. The school’s hundreds of parking spots are available when there’s no special event at the private school.

For additional information about Danebo, call 612/729-3800 or check the Web site: www.danebo.org.