Nearly a decade ago, a group of Minnesotans with Norwegian backgrounds decided there needed to be a place for them and others of their ancestry to gather and celebrate their Scandinavian heritage.
The result of their efforts is the nonprofit Norway House, which this week found its first permanent space to call home. On Friday, Norway House announced it is acquiring the Wings Financial building next to Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, and one of the only congregations in the country that still holds services in Norwegian.
The building will serve as headquarters for the group, which aims to help Norwegian-American cultural organizations.
Norway House, which is buying the building for nearly $1 million, intends to renovate the structure, according to Karen Owen Tuzcu, president and CEO of Norway House. The first floor will serve as an exhibit space for Norwegian-themed events. The second floor will be available to nonprofit Norwegian organizations, she said.
Norway House has a $10 million capital campaign underway and also intends to purchase surrounding property to establish a conference center for special events, said Owen Tuzcu.
Norway House was conceived in 2004 by Norwegian Consul General Thor Johansen, who led the group of like-minded individuals in finding a permanent home for Norway House. More than 865,000 Minnesotans claim Norwegian ancestry and Minneapolis has the largest number of Norwegians outside of Norway at 42,400.
Owen Tuzcu said the group looked at several sites but decided on the Wings Financial building namely because of its proximity to the church.
“It really has stayed connected to that Norwegian [immigrant] story,” Owen Tuzcu said. “It just felt like, ‘Wow, we have this church here. Why are we not connecting with Mindekirken? This is our home. We should be here.’ It just felt perfect when we connected back with them. ”