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East Koshkonong Lutheran Church

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1893, Ole Gunnulson. 454 E. Church Rd.
  • (Photograph by Jeff Dean, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

The late 1830s and 1840s witnessed an exodus of emigrants from Norway, mostly to southern Wisconsin, and one of their earliest settlements was Koshkonong. Anxious to keep the emigrants in its fold, the state church of Norway sent Johannes Wilhelm Christian Dietrichson to America to establish a church. Dietrichson founded the Norwegian Synod in Koshkonong, an area of eastern Dane County that had grown into the largest Norwegian settlement in America. He established two parishes, east and west, located several miles apart. In 1852 and 1858, both parishes erected new buildings. In the 1880s, a schism developed. Those who believed in the doctrine of election, or predestination, broke away from both congregations. In 1893, the believers in predestination within the eastern parish built this church only a few yards west of its parish rival. In 1961, the churches reunited, and this redundant building became a museum.

Ole Gunnulson, the son of a pioneer settler, designed the polychromatic church. Among its attractive details are the arcades of round-arched windows outlined with a continuous band of red brick, elaborate gable ends covered by wooden shingles in a rich variety of patterns, and large semi-elliptical windows in the gable ends with lace-like tracery, leaded glass, and a pronounced corbeled sill. At the junction of two wings rises an angled four-stage tower with narrow arches, patterned shingles, a round-arched belfry, and an octagonal spire.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "East Koshkonong Lutheran Church", [Cambridge, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 474-474.

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