Minot invests to preserve Gol Stave Church

Investment will renew, preserve Gol Stave Church

Jill Schramm/MDN Kev Davick, vice president of the Scandinavian Heritage Association Board, points out the handiwork Tuesday in church woodwork, stripped of old coatings in preparation for staining.

The ongoing work to add new polish to the Scandinavian Heritage Park’s landmark Gol Stave Church is preserving more than just the building. It’s preserving a vision that inspired the Scandinavian Heritage Association to erect the church 20 years ago.

Kev Davick, vice president of the association board, said the association hopes the work being done in staining and sealing the church’s exterior and vestibule becomes a catalyst that sparks the next generation’s interest in keeping the vision going.

“It’s an iconic element,” Davick said. “There’s an opportunity to help support it, and to come and enjoy it.”

The association is asking people to check out its website at scandinavianheritage.org or the Scandinavian Heritage Park’s Facebook page to find out how they can join the effort. The association is not just looking for donors but for people who want to make an investment and feel a sense of ownership when they walk through the park.

The association is inviting community members to claim a vested interest by helping raise $15,000 through contributing through a Go Fund Me account, Facebook or PayPal charitable contribution links or directly to the association at its park headquarters.

Jill Schramm/MDN The upper exterior of the Gol Stave Church takes on a sheen with new stain designed to brighten and preserve the landmark building.

It is an investment because the latest refinishing stain is different from the non-preservative product applied a few times over the previous years. Painters are applying a particularly high quality, long-lasting, UV-protectant stain, expected to still look great in 10 years.

“This would be my choice of product,” said Vannett Painting crew member Bob Gampp, who estimated around 100 gallons of the special stain will be needed. Currently in its third week, the project has at least a week or two left.

Also being stained are the pavilion, two small shelters and the roof of the restrooms. Cost of the entire project will approach $40,000.

“It kind of is the people’s park, not only just our community but across the state and beyond,” Davick said of the Scandinavian Heritage Park. “I know the public holds the setting in high esteem.”

According to Visit Minot, visitors from 46 states have been to the park this summer.

Submitted Photo The Scandinavian Gol Stave Church gets a coating of stain last week as part of the process of preserving the structure.

The church is a centerpiece of the park but it is showing its age.

“We’re crossing that threshold where we can’t just let the wood set, or it’s not going to last the decades and decades,” Davick said.

The association enlisted Mike Trowbridge from Hirshfield’s Paints and Coatings in Minot, who did the research and sample tests on the wood to find just the right product. Vannett Painting of Minot has taken on the laborious tasks of powerwashing the exterior and sanding and hand-prepping the interior as well as applying the two coats of stain. Davick said it was important to bring in local contractors.

“It’s our community taking care of our community, doing the best we can,” he said. “SHA is just a small nonprofit that’s been charged and tasked with the responsibility to upkeep these buildings, and to make them presentable, and to sustain them for future generations to come.”

The iconic Stave church is a full-size replica of a church moved from Gol, Hallingdal, in Norway to the Folk Museum in Oslo about 100 years ago. Minot’s church was dedicated Oct. 10, 2000. The unique and beautiful structure is only one of seven in the United States. It stands as a tribute to Scandinavian pioneer immigrants.

Davick suggests Rolf Stang, a past inductee into the association’s Scandinavian Hall of Fame who is known for preservation of Nordic culture, said it best in describing the long-term effect of a few but mighty people as “Scandinavian resonance.”

Davick said the Gol Stave Church project is part of recognizing and maintaining that lasting imprint.

“We have a responsibility and accountability,” he said. “It all takes doing, but what fun. What joy to watch people come and sit or come and walk. If we don’t maintain the structures, then we don’t have the rest of it.”


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