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Mindekirken to anchor Norway House development

In recent years, Norwegian-American groups often found themselves celebrating events such as Norway’s Constitution Day (May 17) in the basement of the American Swedish Institute. With people of Norwegian descent outnumbering Swedes by two to one in Minnesota, the irony wasn’t lost on leaders of the Norwegian-American community. They wondered if Norwegian Americans didn’t need a facility of their own.
Mindekirken (the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church), located at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and 10th Street in south Minneapolis, recently announced that it will serve as the anchor for the planned development of Norway House, which will include a Norwegian-American Cultural and Business Center in the Phillips neighborhood.

Thorbeck Architect’s rendition of the Norway House development project aligned with Mindekirken; image provided by Dewey Thorbeck

“Mindekirken is located in this neighborhood because this was the place many Norwegian immigrants lived when they first came to Minneapolis.”

“Mindekirken is working closely with Norway House in developing a Norway Center in the Phillips neighborhood,” Pastor Kristin Sundt of Mindekirken told Metro Lutheran. “Mindekirken is located in this neighborhood because this was the place many Norwegian immigrants lived when they first came to Minneapolis.
“We at Mindekirken welcome the efforts of Norway House to strengthen the ties between the many Norwegian American organizations in the Twin Cities,” added Sundt. “As a spiritual and cultural center with a 90-year history in Minneapolis we are excited to join together with Norway House to establish a center which can reach more people in the Norwegian-American Community and beyond. This will create new opportunities to learn about and connect with Norway past and present.”

Raising money for the new venture

A capital campaign for the Norway House project now underway aims to raise $10 million. Norway House organization is acquiring the credit union building on the same block as the church. The purchase involves a lease-back that allows the credit union use of the building for two years. After that time, the credit union building will be renovated and available for lease/rental; it is anticipated that Norwegian cultural organizations will be occupants of the two-story and basement structure.
The Norway House organization’s announcement of the capital campaign and building project explained, “Imagine a place in Minnesota where all things Norwegian are located, embraced, and cultivated. That dream began to materialize in 2004 when a group of inspired Norwegian Americans perceived such a need and founded Norway House with a mission to partner with individuals, other organizations, and businesses in the Norwegian-American community. Norway House would serve as a convener calling others together for a common goal, as a collaborator helping others achieve success, and as a platform, a multi-purpose building to serve as a place to conduct Norwegian-American activities.
“Since its inception, Norway House has been a bridge between Norway and the United States through programs that preserve and promote an appreciation and understanding of the Norwegian- American experience and its relationship to modern Norway: Norway House Minnesota Peace Initiative is a program that serves as a global facilitator for dialogue and development of a road map for peace in the 21st century and features prominent speakers working for world peace; Edvard Grieg Society promotes the music of Edvard Grieg, as well as other Nordic composers, by presenting concerts featuring international and local artists; Midtsommer Celebration is an annual tradition celebrating the ‘Going Viking’ spirit by honoring individuals of Norwegian heritage who have distinguished themselves by their service to others.
“Now a Norway House center will be built, and where better to locate than next door to Den Norske Lutherske Mindekirke — known as Mindekirken, which for 90 years has served as a spiritual center for the Scandinavian American Community, worshiping in both Norwegian and English and providing a rich cultural experience through language, music, arts and food. Mindekirken is honored to have His Majesty King Harald V as its patron. Norway House and Mindekirken will work together as neighbors and partners to provide cultural, educational, research, commercial and global activities.”
The concept for the Norway House project includes new construction that would join the existing structures and include an event hall with kitchen for dinners and special gatherings. Mindekirken’s excellent acoustics make it an attractive venue for concerts and other events that will be associated with the new cultural center.
For additional information, or to make a donation, visit www.norway, or call Jon Pederson, capital campaign chair, at 612/325-3669 or Rebecca Jorgenson Sundquist, director of development, at 952/221-3400.

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