A little church on the blue mounds / Columns / The Foreigner

A little church on the blue mounds. The story of the Hauge Log Church National Historic Site in the U.S. and the little town that fought to protect it. For over 160 years, the Hauge Log Church has stood alone and undisturbed, high on a hill in the Town of Perry, Wisconsin. Early Norwegian settlers built the Hauge Log Church in 1852. In 1927, over 2,000 people attended its 75th anniversary. This year is its 162nd anniversary. The building was constructed by early Norwegian settlers in search of freedom in a new land. They named it after Hans Nielsen Hauge to honor one of their spokesmen from the old land.

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A little church on the blue mounds

Published on Monday, 8th December, 2014 at 06:37 under the columns category, by Doug King.
Last Updated on 13th January 2015 at 11:58.

The story of the Hauge Log Church National Historic Site in the U.S. and the little town that fought to protect it.

The Hauge Log Church
The Hauge Log Church is located in the community of Daleyville, Wisconsin, in the town of Perry. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.The Hauge Log Church
Photo: TheCatalyst31/Wikimedia Commons


For over 160 years, the Hauge Log Church has stood alone and undisturbed, high on a hill in the Town of Perry, Wisconsin. Early Norwegian settlers built the Hauge Log Church in 1852. In 1927, over 2,000 people attended its 75th anniversary. This year is its 162nd anniversary.

The building was constructed by early Norwegian settlers in search of freedom in a new land. They named it after Hans Nielsen Hauge to honor one of their spokesmen from the old land.

Each settler was called upon to provide oak logs and help erect the structure. The logs were cut and drawn during the fall and winter of 1851, and construction of the 22-foot by 22-foot square building was completed in 1852.

It has a unique, panoramic view of the famous Blue Mounds, located in Wisconsin’s Blue Mound State Park, a geologically unique “driftless area” so named because the Continental Glacier that extended south to St. Louis Missouri did not invade the surrounding hills and valleys.

The Dane County Wisconsin Historical Society recognized the site for its historical significance, and dedicated a Historic Marker there on October 11, 1964, that is still seen at the site today. In 1974, the church property was listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

The cemetery in the National Historic Site is home to the remains of U.S. military veterans. The pews, pulpit, altar rail, and balcony are all completely original and have been preserved in excellent repair to this day.

Map of Wisconsin/GNU-FDL
Map of Wisconsin/GNU-FDL
Public Domain
The historic site is internationally recognized as a Norwegian cultural symbol, so precious and respected that for over three-quarters of a century the doors have never been locked. The guest book is filled with heartfelt memories signed by some of the over 50,000 visitors from 45 states and 22 countries. Among them are: “Priceless,” “Thank you for preserving this lovely place,” “We will be getting married here one day,” “Found peace, calm, and serenity in this beautiful House of God,” “I just lost my son a month ago. I needed to pray. Lovely spot. Thank you for preserving it,” and “We miss you Dad.”

Thirteen years ago, the Hauge Log Church National Historic Site was threatened by development proposed on land next to the site that would have blocked its scenic views and disturbed its pristine serenity. In response to these threats, town residents overwhelmingly approved a resolution to acquire 30 acres of surrounding land to create a Hauge Historic District Park that would encircle and permanently protect the historic site.

Most of the acres for the park were acquired from willing sellers, and were paid for by the town with the help of charitable donations and grants. In one instance, however, an adjacent landowner, who had previously proposed development next to the church, retained attorneys to challenge the amount of the compensation offered by the town. This set in motion more than a decade of extended and complex litigation. Although the courts upheld the town’s right to acquire the acres in question, the legal fees and judgments arising from aggressively litigated cases over what constituted “fair value” ended up costing the small Town of Perry more than $1 million.

Throughout this long legal struggle, the town received encouragement and support for their efforts from across the state, the country and, indeed, across the world.

The outhouse behind the church
The outhouse behind the church
TheCatalyst31/Wikimedia Commons
Among those supporting the town’s struggle to protect the environs of the National Historic Site were: The King of Norway; American and Norwegian ambassadors and consuls (from as far as Puerto Rico!); the Stortinget, Norwegian Parliament; the Sons of Norway; the Norwegian-American Weekly; the Oslo Times; and many more.

With encouragement like this, the town persevered. And it succeeded. Today, a Hauge Historic District Park has been established that will protect the surrounding environs of the historic site for generations to come. The extraordinary historic site and historic district park are gifts that town residents have given to the world.

But this achievement has come at a price. Although the town was fortunate to secure a supportive 20-year $1.1 million loan from the State of Wisconsin’s Commissioners of the Trust for Public Lands, the tiny community now faces the burden of making significant payments on that large loan every year over the next two decades.

It is a tall order for a small community of only 230 taxpayers; especially for those older residents on fixed incomes who can ill afford any increases in their levy. Some elderly, retired, and hard-working residents and farmers worry that they might lose their own homes and farms.

Some town residents are already stepping up and pledging annual voluntary donations to ease the burden on their less fortunate neighbors. But more help is needed from supporters and friends from far and wide who appreciate what this little community did to honor and protect an important cultural and historical treasure.

This article originally appeared in the Dec 5, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. Click here to subscribe.




Published on Monday, 8th December, 2014 at 06:37 under the columns category, by Doug King.
Last updated on 13th January 2015 at 11:58.

This post has the following tags: hauge, church, charity, us, .





  
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