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New Lutheran Seminary
Hamline Minn.

Source: Decorah Republican June 29, 1899 P 4 C 3

this page was last updated on Saturday, 04 April 2020

Of the New Norwegian Ev. Lutheran Theological Seminary.


An Event that Closely Touches Local History as Connected with Luther College.

On Friday last, at Hamline, Minnesota, between the twin cities, was laid the corner stone of the new Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran theological seminary, that is to succeed the one at Robbinsdale, which was burned in 1895. A large number of the clergy who were attendants upon the synod meeting went thither from Spring Grove, and the event was made one of much importance by the church. An address of welcome was given by Prof. J. B. Frich, president of the Seminary, an oration by Rev H. Halvorson, of Westby, Wis., and historical addresses in Norwegian by Prof. J. Ylvisaker and in English by O. E. Brandt. The latter will prove interesting to many of our readers, and we give what is evidently a full summary, as it appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press of last Saturday.

The first Norwegian settlement in this country was in Kendall, near Rochester N. Y., in 1825, by the so-called “Sluppefolk,” who had previously come to America. In 1831 a number of these began to leave Kendall for Fox River, Ill. After 1836 a great Increase in the emigration from Norway set in, and two years later the Norwegian Immigration to Wisconsin began. In 1844 Rev. W. Dietrichsen, a minister from Norway, came to Koshkonong, Wis. He was followed in a few years by Rev. H A. Stub and Rev. A. C. Preus, who were the first Norwegian ministers in the west. It was not until 1830 that the Norwegians began to settle in Iowa and Minnesota.

Preliminary measures toward organizing the Norwegian synod were taken In 1852 In the following year a complete organization was affected At this time the synod had seven ministers, twenty congregations and 12.000 members. In 1857 it was resolved to appoint a Norwegian professor to a position In the German Lutheran Concordia College at St. Louis, and two years later Rev. L. Larson, a pastor in Rush River, was elected to the position. In 1861 a Norwegian Lutheran educational Institution was founded at Decorah. Iowa, where it remains. At this time the synod had thirteen ministers in Wisconsin, five In Iowa and five in Minnesota,

In October, 1865, this Decorah college was dedicated, but It never became, as was the original Intention, a theological seminary. It was not until 1876 that the synod, founded its own theological seminary at Madison, Wis., and to this two years later was added a theoretical department. Prof. Smidt and Prof. O. Asperheim were the first instructors, and Rev H. G Stub the first president. Soon after Rev John Ylvisaker was elected an instructor.

in 1881, on account of a difference among the professors over the question of grace, which resulted rather disastrously. The synod decided to change the location of the school to Minneapolis. Ground was purchased at Robbinsdale and a building costing $35,000 was erected. The same year Rev. J, B. Frich of LaCrosse was made president and Rev. O. P. Vangsness assistant Instructor in English homiletics. From this time the prosperity of the college was assured. The number of students Increased and therefore the faculty. Rev. J. Halvorson was called to a professorship in 1890 and Rev. W. M. Peterson in 1894. Rev. H. G. Stub was also an Instructor.

But the seminary was destroyed by fire In January, 1895, and since then temporary quarters have been occupied.

About this time there was serious talk of moving the Institution to another state. James J. Hill generously helped out the difficulty by donating four acres of land In Hamline for the site of a new college. He also gave $20,000, conditionally, and as these conditions were fulfilled the work of constructing a new college was at once considered Plans were prepared by Architects Buchner & Jacobsen, of St. Paul, and the contract was let to H. Olson, of Stillwater, who expects to have the building ready for occupancy by the opening of the next school year

The college is on Capitol avenue, between Sheldon and Hamline avenues, and the structure is rapidly advancing toward completion. The walls are already up to the second story and show the outlines of a very fine building. There will be three stories and abasement, with three wings running to the rear. The front will measure 150 feet and two of the wings will be 100 feet deep and the center wing 157 feet. The entire cost of the building, including the furnishings, will be about $70,000.

The ceremony of laying the corner stone was most Impressive It was conducted by Rev O. E. Halvorson, assisted by several of the clergy and professors. In a Strong box were placed a history of the church and college, copies of the addresses, etc. After the stone was in place Prof. Gausewitz, of Concordia college, delivered an address, aid several short speeches were made by professors of the Lutheran college at Decorah, Iowa.

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