Rural church reflects Danish influences

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 10:23 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2023 at 10:37 AM CDT
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MARQUETTE, Neb. (KOLN) - A few miles east of Marquette in Hamilton County, you’ll find the Kronborg Church. It’s a beautiful rural building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We visited with Deryl Nissen, who is a church member at St. John’s Lutheran Church, which is better known locally as the Kronborg Church.

“Kronborg is an unincorporated little village,” Nissen said. “The village is basically this church. We sit out in the country here, and the first Danish immigrants came here in 1870. Through the next 10 years, the community grew big enough that the immigrants thought they wanted a church. So, they built this one. This is not the first church that was here. The first church was blown down by a tornado in 1899, and this one replaced it. The second church opened its doors in 1902. It’s been here ever since with few changes.”

Of course, there has been some cosmetic changes.

“It used to have cedar siding, and a cedar roof,” Nissen said. “Now it has steel siding and a plastic roof, but it still has the white walls, the red roof, and the unstained natural wood on the inside like it did when they built it in 1902.”

“The church was built by the locals,” Nissen said. “They had committees. The committee decided on this architecture. The red and white on the roof and walls outside serve as a reminder of the Danish flag that is red and white. The inside natural wood has a simple look. It is wainscoting, and it’s attractive. If you look up, the ceiling is supposed to look like a ship, and feel as though you are looking down into the hold of a ship. They rebuilt this church in 1902 for only $4,000 after the tornado.”

Another unique feature of the church is the boat hanging from the ceiling in the sanctuary.

“A lot of Danish churches have boats within them,” Nissen said. “Part of the reasoning is Denmark has a close kinship to the sea. Our replica is a ship called “The Heritage”. It was donated to the church, and was built in Demark, Kansas. It’s hung up here for a lot of years, and we consider it a hope offering that will continue to be here for many years.”