Ny arkitektur for nordmenn i Iowa. Arkitekt C.H. Griese, Luther College og kirker i 1860-årene


  • Jens Christian Eldal UiT The Arctic University of Norway




C.H. Griese, Luther College, norsk-amerikanske kirker, lutherske kirker, Den norske Synode, nygotikk, rundbogenstil, college-arkitektur, 1860–1870, kirker i USA


The Norwegian Evangelical-Lutheran Church in America decided in 1861 to build their first college close to the western frontier of The Upper Midwest. The site chosen was a bluff above Upper Iowa River, highly visible from Decorah, a small town founded only 12 years earlier, few years after the first settlers arrived. The college building became a relatively vast structure erected between 1862 and 1865, completed to its originally planned symmetrical composition in 1874. The building style and its composition were common among American colleges and universities further east in the US. It is also demonstrated how the Luther College building façade in composition and detailing shows clear influences from a specific German building. This particular building has been designated as especially typical of the German Rundbogenstil (Style of the Rounded Arch) with its great mix of various stylistic elements.

The architect was known as C. H. Griese from Cleveland, Ohio. He is identified as Charles Henry Griese (1821–1909), who immigrated from Germany about 1850 and was known as a mason and contractor, from now on also as an architect. In 1869, Griese also designed the three Norwegian Lutheran churches of Washington Prairie, Stavanger and Glenwood in rural Decorah. They represented a Neo Gothic style which was new to the area, and had an evident architectural character contrasting the more ordinary vernacular churches in the area. They signify a change of style and, like the college building, they demonstrate architectural ambitions new to these Norwegians, giving insight also into the general architectural and vernacular development in the area.

Author Biography

Jens Christian Eldal, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

(f. 1948) er dr. philos. og seniorforsker i Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning (NIKU). Eldal har publisert arkitekturhistoriske bøker og artikler om bl.a. sveitserstil, byggeskikk og kirker i Norge, Europa og det norske Amerika.




How to Cite

Eldal, Jens Christian. 2015. “Ny arkitektur for nordmenn i Iowa. Arkitekt C.H. Griese, Luther College og kirker i 1860-årene”. Nordlit, no. 36 (December):31–60. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.3696.