Valley Grove Churches

Nerstrand, MN

The Valley Grove churches are two historic Norwegian places of worship which overlook the prairie and oak savanna of Big Woods State Park. Both churches were constructed in the late 19th century– one constructed of local limestone, the other of white clapboard. The sites’ current steward, the Valley Grove Preservation Society, was founded in 1974 to protect and communicate the historic legacies and landscape associated with Valley Grove.

As a part of their mission, The Valley Grove Preservation Society (VGPS) has continued to work on the restoration of the stone church since 2007. With a grant of $6,150 through the Nordic Heritage Churches program, VGPS was able to raise matching funds to undertake the restoration of interior lighting fixtures. Using cast replicas of the original sconces, the new lighting fixtures were able to use LED lighting while closely matching the appearance of the historic oil lamps.

Additionally, the Valley Grove Preservation Society participated in Phase 2 of the program and commissioned four tapestries to hang beneath the lighted sconces. Artist Robbie La Fleur of Minneapolis was selected to design and create the tapestries in the Norwegian billedvev style, a textile tradition which flourished in Norway between 1550 and 1850. The four tapestries illustrate the history of Valley Grove and the continued modern-day celebrations, including the annual Christmas Eve service.

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