Little White Church on Water St Sparta, Wisconsin

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The Benrud Family Church committee was re-organized and has held two meetings since the successful move and remodel of the Norwegian Evangelical Church, known as the Little White Church on Water Street in Sparta, Wisconsin, to Norskedalen. The Benrud family worked with Morrow Homes of Sparta, owner of the former church, who donated it to the Benrud family, who in turn has donated it to Norskedalen.

Following the successful move of the former church in July to the Norskedalen grounds, the church was put back together, and the remodeling is complete, except for the painting of the new cedar siding, which will happen in the spring.

The committee, consisting of representatives of Norskedalen and representatives of the Benrud family, has met twice to oversee the completion of the project. Due to the continued generosity of the Benrud family, there was enough funds beyond the initial $152,000 required for the move and remodel, and the $80,000 endowment given to Norskedalen for the perpetual care of the building, to add furnishings to the inside of the chapel. At the first meeting in September, a pulpit and pastor’s chair was donated by a Benrud family member. Further work has resulted in the donation of at least one pulpit. The chapel remodeler, Alan Arnold, donated a simple wooden altar back and the committee is overseeing the completion of an altar that will be a close replica of the original. Pictures and descriptions of the inside and outside of the original Little White Church have allowed the committee and the Benrud family to restore the appearance of the original to the extent possible. The Trinity Lutheran Church (the church that began with the Little White Church in Sparta) had preserved some of the original pews – they have donated these pews and others are being built as replicas for the chapel. Trinity has also generously donated the original pump organ.

The committee has finalized the name and presented it to the Norskedalen board who has accepted it: it will be known as the Benrud Little White Chapel. Donations that were made to specific projects as part of the 19 year Benrud family quest to build a church at Norskedalen will be designated with plaques on the appropriate item, e.g. windows, steeple, door, display units, etc. Even though the estimated costs may have differed from the previous fundraising campaign, the donors will be recognized for their generosity if they donated the full designated amount. Many of the final actual costs, e.g. windows, were actually higher because the Benrud family chose to create replicas of the original.

Our committee will work with the property committee to complete the landscaping and to add other furnishings as donations make this possible. The chapel windows and doors were decorated by co-chair, Ruth Amundson, for Christmas and the chapel will be available by early spring for visitors. Committee member, David Amundson, has been photographing this incredible project throughout the process – the committee is very indebted to him for his ongoing work. A very special thank you goes to Curt Benrud for his hundreds of hours and miles in making this project happen. Curt is currently working on coordinating the reconstruction of pews and with fulfilling the Norskedalen decision to use wood heat rather than the original proposed and funded gas heat and air conditioning. We also with to thank committee member, Tip Bagstad, who has continued to work on the final Benrud Little White Chapel, as well as to support the efforts of the Benrud family in their quest of the past 19 years.

Finally, all are invited to the dedication of the Benrud Little White Chapel that will take place on Sunday morning, August 1. Questions, please e-mail me at jewelsdi@yahoo.com or call 414-745-4362.