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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Stave church moves back home

A 122-year-old copy of a Norwegian stave church that was moved to the US from where it was built in Orkanger, outside Trondheim, is being dismantled once again and moved back home. The private museum in Wisconsin where it most recently has been located went out of business, and now some Orkdal patriots have mounted an effort to take it over.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the church originally was built for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 by industrialist Christian Thams, founder of the large Norwegian company Orkla. When the fair ended and it was no longer needed as Norway’s pavilion, the stave church was bought by chewing gum and newspaper baron William Wrigley Jr, who later sold it to the Norwegian-American Winner family, who operated a Norwegian museum in Wisconsin for around 90 years.

When visitor numbers declined, the “Little Norway” museum eventually closed, with most of its items auctioned off. The church was put up for sale with some Chinese buyers expressing interest. When a group of people from the Orkanger area read about that in DN last year, they moved quickly to raise both public and private backing to buy the church for USD 100,000, dismantle it, move it back to Norway and set it up again, for a total cost estimated at NOK 5 million.

“This will be a tourist magnet in Orkanger,” Olav Sigurd Kvaale of the group told DN. Scott Winner said it was “bittersweet” for the family to sell the church, but said it was the right thing to do. Plans call for the church to reopen on a new site in Orkanger next summer. staff



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