“A beautiful reproduction of a Norwegian wooden church”
How did it come about that there is a stave church in the Black Hills of South Dakota, thousands of miles from the land where this type of architecture and construction originated? It is the result of a dream of one man and the generous support of another... Rev. Harry R Gregerson and his WifeIn the 1960's, the originator and preacher of the Lutheran Vespers radio hour, Dr. Harry R. Gregerson, was looking to expand the scope of his popular radio ministry. As his dream took shape, Dr. Gregerson realized there was the perfect location for his facility right in his own state of South Dakota: the Black Hills. The Black Hills are a vaction destination for people from all over the world. The Chapel was to draw people to it and the Hills was the perfect setting to accomplish this goal. It was the Rev. Conrad Thompson who suggested they build a Stave Church (Stavkirke). Rev. Thompson had spent time in Norway and was familiar with Stave Churches. After careful consideration it was decided to build a Norwegian church on the edge of South Dakota. The chapel is an exact replica of the famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. The Norwegian Department of Antiquities graciously provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills. All the general construction was done by a local construction company and other contractors. The woodcarvings are the result of a combined effort by Mr. Erik Fridstrom, one of Norway's best woodcarvers, and a local rapid City resident, Mr. Helge Christiansen. Also, to serve as a visitor center and offices for Lutheran Vespers, an authentic grass-roofed "stabbur," or store house, was built in Norway, shipped to Rapid City, and reassembled on the grounds. In addition to the chapel and stabbur, two residences were constructed on the grounds, a parsonage and caretaker's cabin. Financing for the Chapel came from a generous donation by a local banker, Arndt E. Dahl. Mr. Dahl's parents were Norwegian immigrants and his father was a Lutheran pastor in the Dakotas. Mr. Dahl wanted to build a memorial to his parents and support Lutheran Vespers.The Chapel in the Hills was dedicated on July 6, 1969, and it served as the home of Lutheran Vespers until 1975 whem the radio program was moved to Minneapolis home of the American Lutheran Church at the time. At that time a non-profit corporation took over operation of the Chapel in the Hills and operates it to this day. A number of Pastors were called to the Chapel and a resident Pastor served the Chapel until 2004. At that time it was decided to hire a manager and use local Pastors serving Lutheran churches in the Rapid City area to preside over the Vesper services and weddings. Today the Chapel sees 20,000 to 25,000 visitors ayear and hosts over 100 weddings each year along with renewal of vows, baptisms, and memorial services
This place is so relaxing and so beautiful. I was really amazed when we went here. The architectural design is amazing. Lots of beautiful and breath taking scenery. The Chapel is so quiet, peaceful, relaxing, and very solemn. The grounds and the garden were maintained beautifully. The air and the weather is so refreshing. There were many things to see and to visit. There were turkeys roaming around the place and there were also other wildlife/animals to see like deer, rabbits, and etc. We also visited the gift shop and there were lots of interesting stuffs. I've seen and learned so many things here and all of that is free of charge but they do accept donations.
Another great FREE and interesting spot on our trip. Theres not a lot to look at really, but the Church is very impressive!
Interesting. Very beautiful architecture!
wonderful surprise to add to my roadtrip --- I wouldn't have known without roadtrippers and doing a stop over in Rapid City! very beautiful and neat history about the Norway Chapel. You do drive through a little subdivision type area before you come up to the entrance. Follow the signs or navigate via Roadtrippers.
Beautiful sanctuary and a truly inspiring story behind the project! Talk to the family who owns the place - it'll be well worth your time as they are very passionate!
Such a neat place. I don't think it was at all what we were expecting. Beautiful.
Gorgeous and peaceful. If you walk the paths, you'll be able to enjoy some lovely statues with inspirational plaques. The chapel itself is just stunning.
The craftsmanship truly is amazing and impressive how much like the originals I saw in Norway
There is a nice narration explaining some of the concepts in the design if you arrive a day the church is closed
We would not have known of this wonderful gem without Roadtrippers. We arrived in the early evening and our visit just happened to coincide with the start of the vesper service. Visiting pastors (ours were from Wisconsin) lead a short service of prayer, hymns, and sermon. It was wonderful. The architecture of this place is amazing. Of particular interest to me were the sliding access door which allowed the celebrant to give communion to the lepers who were not allow inside, the covered walkway completely surrounding the church where attendants could be covered from inclement, the area where weapons (also not allowed) could be left, and the symbolism of the wealth of carvings.
Be the first to add a review to the Chapel in the Hills.
Chapel in the Hills
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
Problem with this listing? Let us know.
Credit Cards Accepted
Related Trip Guides
Pay Tribute and Reflect at These US Monuments and Memorials
- 14 Places
The Ultimate Guide to Badlands National Park
- 13 Places
Road Trip Down US 83: The Road to Nowhere
- 36 Places
- 1,869 mi