The Norwegian Lutheran Church Historical Society of Calumet

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Sons of Norway Local Lodge

History of the Calumet Norwegian Lutheran Church

as printed in 1946 for Church's 75 Anniversary Celebrations:
(click on image to read it)

page 1

page 2

page 3
Church Boards
page 4
Anniversary Program
page 5
Youth Luther League
page 6
Honor Roll
& Bethesda Girls Society

page 7
Ladies Aid & Sunday School

page 8
Church Music

Norwegian Lutheran Church in Calumet History
By Susan Rokicki and Lynn Bjorkman.
Adapted from information in the Society's archives.

The First Norwegian Lutheran Church of Calumet was established as a congregation in 1871 to serve an immigrant population from Norway. Attracted by work in the area's copper mines, Norwegians from Alten, in northern Norway, first settled in Calumet in 1865. Soon after, the Rev. A.C. Fredericksen arrived to conduct mission work among the immigrants, leading to the official organization of the congregation and the calling of its first pastor, the Rev. Hans Christian Rornas in 1871. Since Rornas, a native of Norway, also spoke Finnish, the church's early membership included Finns, along with a smaller number of Swedes.

The newly formed congregation built its first church on Pine Street in 1872. The Pastor lived on the first floor and the congregation met on the second floor.
One year later, in 1873, a new church was built on Mine Street. Also in 1873, the church was incorporated as the Calumet Evangelical Lutheran Church. At that time the church had 243 members, 60 of whom were Finns, 15 Swedes, and 168 Norwegians. In 1878, the Swedish members withdrew, and eventually, the Finns also left to form their own congregations.

The Mine Street Church

Edward Ulseth,
Church Contactor

In 1897, the congregation secured a lot at Elm and Seventh Streets from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company. Edward Ulseth, a prominent local contractor and civic leader, was instrumental in both the organization of the church and the construction of the new building. The building committee was composed of the following: Edward Ulseth, Hans Sivertsen, Sivert Olson, Martin Gundersen, Peter Ericksen, the Rev. Simon Romsdahl, and Anders Ulseth.

The wooden church with an attached parsonage and pastor's study was built by the local contracting firm, Bajari-Ulseth. The construction foreman was Nels Ulseth. The cornerstone for the structure was laid on July 17, 1898.

Nels Ulseth,
Church Foreman


The church design shows a strong Norwegian influence and is said to be an exact replica of a church in Kristiansund, Norway, birthplace of Edward Ulseth.


Map showing Kristiansund on West Coast of Norway:

(click here to see interactive map)

Picture of church in Kristiansund, Norway that the Ulseth family attended.

It was built in 1878 but burned down during the war in 1940.

  The auditorium was finished about a year after the start of construction; the church was dedicated on May 28, 1899, by the Rev. M. Falk Gjertsen. The first pastor of the new church was the Rev. Simon Romsdahl who served the congregation from 1899 to 1903.

The church remained a dynamic, functioning institution through the 1940s, until the copper mines declined and the area's population dropped. Church services were held on a sporadic basis from the 1950s through the early 1980s, at which time only a few descendants of the congregation's original membership remained. Because of the declining membership, maintenance of the structure was suspended.

By the mid 1980s, the historic structure, in great need of repair, had become a target for vandals and was being considered for demolition by the Calumet Village Council in order to allow for the expansion of a nearby business.

However, the small group of remaining members of the congregation, led by Miss Mollie Ulseth, whose father Nels, had helped to build the church, initiated an attempt to purchase the property in order to save the structure. Through a determined effort, the group succeeded in acquiring the property and preventing its demolition. Through further volunteer efforts, stabilization and repairs to the structure began in earnest in 1991. Restoration of the exterior began in 1997 and continues to the present. Future plans include restoration of the stained glass windows, and eventually, a complete restoration of the interior.

In 2000 The Norwegian Lutheran Church Historical Society was founded to maintain, restore, and facilitate future use of the historic church building.

Pastors who served the church from 1871-1961:

A missionary from Oslo, Norway named Rev. A. C. Fredricksen served the Norse worshipers of Calumet from 1866 to 1871



Norwegian Lutheran Church
Historical Society
608 Elm Street
Calumet, Michigan 49913
(906) 337-3731 for further information or email webmaster

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