Icelandic church added to US National Register of Historic Places

iceland dakota churchAn Icelandic church in North Dakota has been added to the official US National Register of Historical Places.

The Vikur Lutheran Church, which the State Historical Society claims is the oldest Icelandic church in the US, is located in the town of Mountain. Construction on the building, which has an Icelandic flag stained-glass window, started in 1884 on land handed over by Reverend Paul Thorlaksson, who played a major role in establishing the Icelandic-American community in the region that is still in place today.

The white church is used during Mountain’s Deuce of August Icelandic festival, which has been taking place for more than 100 years and even attracts visitors from Iceland. This year current Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was among those that attended the event.

Church member Loretta Bernhoft, who helped campaign for the church to be listed on the National Register, said busloads of Icelanders arrive each summer for the festival. She noted that when they see the building they say it is just like the churches back in Iceland.

The National Register is the US government’s list of places it considers worthy of preservation and recognition. Other recent additions in North Dakota include Whitestone Hill near Kulm and an auditorium built by the World Progress Administration in Edinburg in 1938.


Photo: Flickr account of the National Register of Historic Places