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St. John Ukrainian Orthodox Chapel

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1885; 1957 additions. Adelaide St., just north of 2nd St.
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)

Located in the south section of the city, between the Red and Pembina rivers, this church was built by settlers from Iceland who established a colony in the area. In 1885, Sigurdur Myrdal, Olaf Thorsteinson, and Jon Johnson called a meeting for the purpose of organizing a congregation. A site was purchased and the Icelandic Lutheran Church of Pembina was erected that same year. In the following years, the number of Icelandic families diminished, and in 1937, the church was sold to the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of St. John, the third such church established in North Dakota. In 1957, the Byzantine dome was added and the interior redecorated.

In anticipating the record-setting flood in 1997, a former congregant, John Bordeniuk, and his son, Ronald, managed to get to the church just ahead of the floodwaters and saved almost all of the contents. They raised the church’s ornate altar onto concrete blocks so that only the bottom of the altar was touched by the floodwaters that were more than eight feet deep. The building sustained extensive damage, but has been restored. Visitors to this chapel will be struck by its fragility in a vulnerable setting, perhaps metaphor for the fragility of cultural heritage.

Writing Credits

Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay


What's Nearby


Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "St. John Ukrainian Orthodox Chapel", [Pembina, North Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of North Dakota

Buildings of North Dakota, Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 97-97.

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