Filed Under Whitefish

Scandinavian Methodist Church

Having raised $350 to begin construction, the Scandinavian Methodists laid the cornerstone of their new church on December 20, 1895. The city had donated the lot, and farmer Robert Nordtome served as architect and lead carpenter. The design included a steeple in the northwest corner (since removed); narrow, pointed windows with wooden tracery; and an attached one-and-one-half-story residence. Contractor Lars Johnson and other Scandinavian farmers, carpenters, and tradesmen donated their labor. The congregation formally dedicated the church in 1905, though they began meeting here much earlier. Until 1910, wood stoves provided heat and oil lamps illuminated the interior. Not everyone supported the church’s construction. A letter to the editor of The Interlake asserted in 1896 that the Methodists were taking needed resources from the Scandinavian Lutheran church. “Most Scandinavians are Lutheran … [and] there were hardly enough people to build one church, to say nothing of two,” according to the letter writer. He particularly objected to the fact that congregation leaders were fundraising as “the Scandinavian church … when they positively know that it is not, and never will be, a church for the majority of the Scandinavian people.” Despite the letter writer’s fears, both churches—constructed within two blocks of each other—served Kalispell’s Scandinavian community for decades. As one of four Montana churches built by the Methodist’s Norwegian-Danish Conference, the church offered services in Norwegian for over forty years. Originally a gathering spot to preserve culture and language as well as to share faith, it became the English-speaking Westside Methodist Church in 1939.

Images

Scandinavian Methodist Church
Scandinavian Methodist Church View of facade Source: M., Ben. "Scandinavian Methodist Church." Clio: Your Guide to History. May 25, 2020. Accessed July 4, 2024. https://theclio.com/entry/104675
Scandinavian Methodist Church
Scandinavian Methodist Church Front view of facade Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination file. On file at Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena. Creator: Kathy McKay, photographer Date: 1992
Scandinavian Methodist Church
Scandinavian Methodist Church Side view Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination file. On file at Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena. Creator: Kathy McKay, photographer Date: 1992

Location

203 5th Avenue West, Kalispell | Public

Metadata

Montana Historical Society, “Scandinavian Methodist Church,” Historic Montana, accessed July 13, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/3569.