A once popular tourist attraction featuring this area's rich Norwegian heritage is up for sale.More >>
A once popular tourist attraction featuring this area's rich Norwegian heritage is up for sale. More >>
Blue Mounds (WKOW)-- Back in September, 27 News first told you that longtime historic destination Little Norway in Blue Mounds was closing its doors for good.
The owners are now working to find new homes for thousands of Norwegian artifacts on the property. After seeing a 27 News story, word spread quickly spread in Norway and a group of Norwegians became interested in one artifact in particular. The group wanted to purchase Little Norway's main attraction, a wooden stave church that was built in Norway more than 100 years ago.
"It's quite exciting. We don't sleep," Norwegian delegate Arne Asphjell chuckles.
The group of four delegates traveled to Little Norway this week to get a better look at the building. The group represents the Orkdal community in Norway that is interested turning the building into a historic destination.
"The building was made in our city 122 years ago. A lot of our families worked on this building," Asphjell explains.
The delegates were given an all-access tour by Little Norway owner Scott Winner, who says it will be tough to see the building go, but if it must, he's glad it's going back home.
"I said what a romantic idea, to have it here in America, have a tour here in America for 122 years and then see it go back home to where it was built," Winner says.
The building has been preserved by Winner's family for nearly 80 years. It first came to Blue Mounds back in 1935. Before that it was owned by the Wrigley family for several years.
Before that, the building was used as Norway's feature display in the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Delegates say the building was specifically created to show the rest of the world a prime example of Norwegian's unique architecture and their impressive building skills.
"If it can't be here, what a wonderful thing to have it go back to Norway," Winner says.
Some of the Norwegian delegates actually have direct ancestral ties to the building. One of the members who had to stay home, his grandfather actually carved the ornate markings on the building's front door.
"It means a lot to us and our history. The community back home is following our trip and they're really interested in what we find out," Asphjell says.
The only problem is finding a way to take apart this massive building, ship it overseas and reassemble it back in Norway. Luckily, many of the delegates have experience transporting buildings overseas. One of the delegates actually specializes in construction and has already shipped five buildings across the ocean.
The project is being funded by the Orkdal community in Norway and is expected to cost nearly 4.5 million kroner. In American money that's $800,000. At the end of the week the delegates will go back home and report their findings to the city council.
On May 22nd, the council is expected to finalize their decision to fund the project and bring the building back to Norway. If everything goes as planned the delegates are hoping to come back to Blue Mounds in July and spend several weeks packing up the stave church before shipping it back to Norway.
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