The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Nordkap 378
Farmington Hills, Michigan

Nordkap Lodge 378 is the oldest Sons of Norway lodge in Michigan and is part of the organization’s Fifth District. It is named for Nordkapp (North Cape), a thousand-foot-high cliff at the top of Norway.

Nordkap Lodge began on August 10, 1929, when a group of about 35 Norwegians met at the Danish Brotherhood Hall in Detroit with a representative from the Sons of Norway in Minneapolis to organize a Detroit chapter. Those present were accepted as members, an election was held, a committee to draft bylaws chosen, and three names were presented as possible names for the new chapter: Roald, Nordkap, and Torghatten. As there was already a Roald Lodge in the Fifth District, the members decided to vote on the other two, and Nordkap won.

In September, the new lodge met at the Strathmor Masonic Temple and planned a Leif Ericson Fest. Norwegian films were shown, a Halloween party and basket social were planned, and the lodge was off to a good start. However, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression intervened, and interest waned. The lodge suspended meetings in 1931, but membership was at 54.

The lodge was reorganized in 1935 at the Odd Fellows Hall on Fenkell Avenue in Detroit and retained the Nordkap name. Only five of the original members were in attendance, but 22 others joined.

Beginning in 1940, the meetings were conducted in English rather than Norwegian. During the war years of 1940-1945, Nordkap worked hard for the cause of Norway during its occupation by the Germans. In 1944, the meetings were held in the basement of Kaleva Hall at Montville Place in Detroit.

For approximately the last 30 years, monthly meetings have been held at the Swedish Club in Farmington Hills. Through the years, the lodge has sponsored countless dinners and dances; participated in numerous ethnic festivals and bazaars; arranged exhibits at museums, schools, and libraries; and supported many international and charitable organizations. It currently offers a very active college scholarship program, supported through various fund-raisers and the generosity of its members.  

Monthly meetings include social and cultural programs. There are often speakers, videos, presentations, games, craft and cookie-baking workshops, and “show and tell” to help members honor and learn more about their Norwegian heritage. A lending library offers an extensive collection of books and tapes on a variety of Norwegian subjects, with rentals free to members.

The lodge marches as a unit with the Swedish Club each July in the Farmington Founders Festival parade. Nordkap also hosts special celebrations at Christmas, midsummer, and the 17th of May (Syttende Mai), Norwegian Constitution Day.  

Lodge programs are planned to interest all, but they are specifically targeted to attract and engage young people. Membership in Nordkap Lodge is open to all who are interested in the preservation of Norwegian culture and heritage. For more information, see Nordkap’s Web site at DetroitNorwegians.com.