Ah, I’m sure many of you are thinking that the grammarian has slipped up.  Norway doors, indeed!  It should be Norwegian doors.  But I’ve mislead you by a continent.  These churches and their doors are found in Norway, Illinois, a small town we passed through last year on an anniversary drive to Starved Rock State Park.

According to the Norwegian National League site:

Norway, Illinois is the first permanent Norwegian settlement in North America, settled in 1835 by the Sloopers, led by Cleng Peerson. The Sloopers were immigrants who came to America on the sloop Restaurasjonen, arriving in New York in 1825 and later coming to Illinois.

The museum began in 1978 in the oldest Norwegian Lutheran Church in America The museum is dedicated to Norwegian culture and strives to honor and preserve the memory of the Norwegian forefathers who settled in the area. The museum continues to provide a link to the past and its continued preservation into the future. The museum features household items, spinning wheels, rosemaling, bunads, a Viking display, immigrant’s trunks, early farm tools and so much more.

The building is an excellent example of carpentry by pioneer Norwegian craftsmen. All the structural beams in the attic were hand hewn from soft pine and fastened with wooden (hard wood) pegs rather than nails. The ends of some of the beams in the attic still bear various craftsmen’s symbols stamped into the wood. Material for the building was hauled 70 miles from Chicago to Norway (IL) by wagon and oxen. It was dedicated as a house of worship in 1848 replacing a log cabin church built in 1838 and was decommissioned as a church in 1918.


Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we visited.  But here are some photos of the church and its doors as well as those of another church just around the corner, a church that’s still functioning as a church, not as a museum.

copyright janet m. webb

coyyright janet m. webb

© janet m. webb

And around the corner…

© janet m. webb

© janet m. webb

© janet m. webb

In case you’re wondering, Wikipedia enlightens us:

Rosemåling is a style of Norwegian decorative painting on wood that uses stylized flower ornamentation, predominantly primary and secondary colors,scrollwork, lining and geometric elements, often in flowing patterns.

To see some bunads, traditional Norwegian women’s costumes, check out this post by My Little Norway.

  1. dweezer19 says:

    That’s a very lovely church. And doors. 😀

  2. slfinnell says:

    Sounds like a good future trip 🙂 Look forward to more pics!

  3. Ally Bean says:

    I like the blue doors. Refined and inviting, if you ask me. Interesting history here. Good photos.

  4. scr4pl80 says:

    I like the blue doors best. The wooden ones almost seem out of place, but maybe that’s just me.

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    Love the simple lines of this style of building. A highlights very different mentality towards their religion: humility, modesty, and functionality instead of grand gestures and overt opulence.

  6. prior.. says:

    enjoyed the doors and history…

    and like learning more about our country – and did not know about the “Norwegian forefathers who settled in the area”
    also, there is a little church in Morrison, CO that looks very much like the Norsk Museum –

  7. JT Twissel says:

    I found this really interesting because my great grandfather was born in Voss Norway.

  8. Thanks for the interesting history of the church.

  9. jesh stg says:

    Since you like to travel, it would have fine! But it’s always interesting how in history another country came to the USA. I love Scandinavian houses and their knitting work has gorgeous patterns. Like the square tower of this church. As a matter of interest (not one you have to research), I wonder if the church originally had siding on the outside walls. too. Great find, Janet:)

  10. Suzanne says:

    Church doors always get my attention. It is hard to choose a favorite from these, but… that shade of blue is pretty perfect.

  11. Handsome architecture, doors, and stained glass windows plus I enjoyed the background info. Nice find, Janet.

  12. Allan G. Smorra says:

    A fascinating post, Janet. I would love to visit here and see some of the craftsmen’s marks in the attic.

  13. Dan Antion says:

    These are two beautiful buildings (and wonderful doors). I love the cross detail in the entrance roof structure as well as the stained glass window behind it. The little roof jutting out around the entrance tower in the museum is a very interesting detail. I enjoyed studying these photos very much. Thanks!

  14. Su Leslie says:

    Beautiful church. I misread the sign “Hauge” as “huge” and thought that was an odd, and slightly boastful, thing to have on a church sign. 🙂

  15. Leya says:

    Simple and serene – beautiful. And what: I thought you had been to Norway without visiting me………..then I realized those doors would not be the ones posted from a Norwegian trip.

  16. I love those blue doors, and the tower, and the stained glass window in the second church.
    Lovely finds both, and neat history too!

  17. Forestwood says:

    It is a shame you didn’t get to see inside. I am a Rosemaler myself so I would have loved to see if the interior was decorated.

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