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Arlington House (now Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum)

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now Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
1876. 520 W. Water St.
  • Arlington House (now Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum) (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)

The three-story Arlington house was built in 1876 as a luxury hotel, but because the railroad station was built blocks away it did not prove economically successful. In the early 1880s it became a dormitory for students at the Decorah Institute, and then it was remodeled into the publication house of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod. It is now a museum open to the public. The building is of brick with stone detailing. Metal balconies project from portions of the second and third floors, and the building terminates in an elaborate wide overhanging bracketed cornice. The design of the cornice, the round-headed windows, and the balconies loosely place its design within the Italianate.

Between the museum and the City Stone Mill is located one of America's earliest outdoor museums (modeled after earlier Swedish examples). This open-air museum consists of a group of buildings that were brought to the site and then reconstructed. There is a c. 1850 log blacksmith's shop (from Houston, Minnesota); the nineteenth-century EggeKern log cabin; a Lutheran schoolhouse of 1879; and a small wood building (some 200 years old) which came from Vang, Valdres Province, Norway.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Arlington House (now Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum)", [Decorah, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 377-378.

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