The usually reserved Swedes are making quite a splash this month with the
opening of their spectacularly modernistic embassy and cultural complex in
Washington, D.C. But for travelers who want to celebrate the
Swedish-American experience, there are plenty of other options.
Alan H. Winquist and Jessica Rousselow-Winquist, authors of
Touring Swedish-America: Where to Go and What to See (Minnesota
Historical Society, $24.95), offer suggestions to Ron Schoolmeester
for USA TODAY.
By Steve Woit
Gustavus Adolphus College
Founded by immigrants in the 1860s at St. Peter, Minn.
St. Peter, Minn.
The hilltop campus
of Gustavus Adolphus College, founded by Swedish immigrants in the
1860s, overlooks the town of St. Peter in south-central Minnesota. "A
number of buildings and markers underscore the school's Swedish
heritage," says Jessica. "Old Main is on the National Register of
Historic Places. The Jussi Björling Recital Hall, Nobel Hall of Science
and Linnaeus Arboretum also bear Swedish names."
American Swedish Institute: Originally the Minneapolis manse of a
American Swedish Institute
Indiana-limestone mansion was built for newspaper owner Swan J. Turnblad
at the turn of the 20th century. After the death of his wife, he
established what would become the American Swedish Institute and endowed
his home to the organization. "The richly decorated two-story grand hall
and several spectacular ceramic-tiled kakelugn (stoves) are among
its most imposing features," Alan Winquist says. 612-871-4907;
During the past 20
years, the center "has become one of the three largest museums in the
United States focusing on the Swedish immigration experience (the others
are the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia and the
American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis)," Alan Winquist says. A
highlight: "From Vikings to Visionaries," an interactive exhibit for
(Old Swedes) Church
originally settled by Swedes arriving in 1638 at what is today
Wilmington. "In 1697, three Church of Sweden missionaries arrived, and
shortly Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church was built," Alan Winquist says.
"The sanctuary contains significant features dating from the early
1700s." Nearby is Hendrickson House, built in 1690 by a Swedish settler.
Sandzén immigrated to Lindsborg in 1894, joined the faculty of Bethany
College and, over six decades, produced hundreds of oil and watercolor
paintings. He is noted for his landscapes of Kansas and Colorado, many
of which can be seen in the gallery. "My personal favorite Sandzén work
is the ethereal Ascension found in the Trinity United Methodist
Church," Jessica Winquist says. 785-227-2220;
Bishop Hill, Ill.
Bishop Hill began
as a religious commune in 1846 on the northwestern plains of Illinois.
Twenty large commercial buildings were erected, many in classical style,
and some 15,000 acres of land were farmed. The colonists excelled in
producing linen, furniture, wagons, brooms and farm products. "A number
of the original buildings are open to the public, including the
impressive Colony Church, the Steeple Building and the Bjorklund Hotel,"
Alan Winquist says. 309-927-3345;
"One of the
loveliest Swedish-American sites in Minnesota is the complex of six
pioneer structures called Gammelgĺrden, or the Old Farm," Alan Winquist
says. Among the buildings: the oldest existing Swedish Lutheran Church
and parsonage in the state. Nearby is a monument honoring Swedish
Ullberg's wildlife sculptures can be found throughout the USA, but
Jessica's favorite is his monumental fountain installation depicting 58
Canada geese taking off from a pond, flying through the air, circling an
intersection and ending in the glass-enclosed atrium of the First
National Bank in downtown Omaha. "The geese dramatically transition from
bronze to stainless steel to symbolize the evolution from the open range
to the modern cityscape," Jessica Winquist says.
From 1931 to 1951,
the internationally acclaimed Carl Milles was the resident sculptor at
Cranbrook. "A number of his works are housed in the (academy's) gallery,
but there are also several Milles fountains on the grounds," Jessica
Winquist says. Her favorite Milles work, however, is elsewhere: The
Fountain of the Muses at Brookgreen Gardens near Georgetown, S.C.
and Landing, Big Delta State Historical Park
Rika Wallen, born
in Sweden, emigrated to Minnesota in 1891 and eventually made her way to
Alaska, where she managed a roadhouse on the Tanana River during the
gold rush. She was a natural farmer who understood the cold Alaskan
climate. "She designed and supervised the construction of a
Swedish-style barn with a unique ventilation system making it possible
to winter cows, sheep, oxen, mules and poultry," Jessica Winquist says.
"The Roadhouse is the oldest non-refurbished building in Alaska, and
Rika's barn is now a museum." 907-895-4201;