Winner June 6, 2010: Historic Churches of the World challenge, Historic Places group
Location: Hauge Log Church; County Highway Z; Town of Perry; Daleyville, WI
After getting lost twice (not my fault; bad map and poor signage), almost running out of gas and nearly peeing my pants, I finally found the Hauge Log Church. This building was the center controversy in the February trial of which I was a member of the jury. The trial was eminent domain; the Town condemned and acquired a parcel of farmland adjacent to the church to create an historic district and park. The owner felt the land was worth over $1 million. The Town disagreed. The controversy is not over. The former land owner is now suing the Town for legal fees. Now that I have seen the property and know information that was not allowed in the trial, I think we made a big mistake awarding the landowner the amount we did.
The Hauge Log Church was built in the winter of 1851-52. Arne Ruste (born in 1808 in Valdres Norway, died in 1852) cut the first log used in building the church. The first service held on May 27, 1852. The Hauge Log Church was the first Norwegian Lutheran Church constructed in western Wisconsin. Adjacent to the 20 by 20 foot church is a small cemetery where members of the first congregation are buried, including Arne Ruste. All the old stones are in Norwegian and many are so weather worn they are unreadable; the oldest I could read was dated 1876. Some families remaining in the area have placed new stones on the graves. The congregation remained in the original log church until 1887 when a new larger building was constructed approximately two miles east. (That second Hauge Church was razed during the 1960’s.) The old log church and cemetery was abandoned and neglected for 39 years. In 1926 the Town of Perry opposed a campaign to move the log church to a museum at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and funds were raised to restore the old church on site. Today, it hosts weddings, baptisms, and other special occasions. It is open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week year-round. Dane County Historic Marker, 1963; Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory Registry, 1989; National Register of Historic Places in 1974;