The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Nordland 544
Janesville, Wisconsin

Nordland Lodge 544, Sons of Norway, was organized on November 10, 1974. There were 187 charter members, with 92 charter members still with the lodge. Our membership is now a little over 300.

The name for our lodge was chosen in a contest, with "Nordland" (north land) being selected.

The lodge has met in several places through the years: Odd Fellows Hall, Salvation Army, Moose Lodge, Rock School, and where we now meet - Hillcrest School west of Janesville.

Hundreds of school children have enjoyed the Heritage Programs put on by members of our lodge, and have tasted Norwegian goodies prepared while they watch. The Nordland Kor sings at nursing homes, church meetings, at schools and other functions, sometimes combined with a Bunad Show.

Norwegian language classes have been held, as have cooking classes and sewing instruction in making bunads. Our lodge has sponsored Heritage Days in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin, inviting participants from northern Illinois as well as southern Wisconsin.

Nordland has been active in sending children to the Heritage Camp and officers to seminars. One of the first seminars was hosted by our lodge. Each summer we participate in several parades in southern Wisconsin with a float designed and decorated by lodge members.

Other community participation has included booths at the Rock County 4-H Fair and the Beloit Saderfest to promote our heritage. Each fall we have a Smørgasbord open to the public, with a raffle as part of the festivities. For several years a group of women have worked together to make a quilt for the main prize.

Card parties are held regularly every month, with euchre a favorite. Nordland members participate in a euchre tournament with other area lodges. In 1980 we worked with Idun, Mandt, and Vennelag to host the International Convention in Madison.

John Stokke of Nordland was the first Cultural Director on the Fifth District Board. Since then Earl Atlderson and Hjalmer Hanson have served as directors.

Our lodge is active and growing. We will continue to do what we can to learn about and preserve the Norwegian culture.

                                 Nordland Lodge 5-544 History (Continued) submitted by Olga Fast

In 1991 Nordland Lodge purchased the building at 418 W Milwaukee St, Janesville, WI to be our lodge home. With owning our building we were able to add new activities as well as continuing others.
Heritage programs for school children in area schools continued for several more years after moving into our own building.
The Nordland Kor, which was formed in 1978, continued until 2001. During that time we presented programs for churches, service clubs, nursing homes, high school reunions and other Sons of Norway lodges, sometimes travelling several miles. Often we spent a weekend singing at several venues in those areas. In 1994 several area Lutheran Churches celebrated 150th anniversaries with Norwegian worship services. The Kor led the congregations in the liturgy, hymns and provided special music for them.
In 1994 we started serving an annual lutefisk dinner for a fund raiser instead of the smorgasbord as before. That continued until 2013. After discontinuing the lutefisk dinner, we had a Norwegian bake sale instead, selling only Norwegian food items. This was a very successful fund-raising event.
Another activity that has continued for many years is the Hardanger group, dubbed “The Hardanger Honeys”. This group, of various numbers, meets weekly learning the stitches and creating many beautiful items for gifts as well as fund raiser items. People earned Cultural Skills pins in Hardanger and other skills. This group still meets weekly and often set up displays at libraries to educate and inform the public of these crafts. We invite non Sons of Norway people to join our group too.
Nordland Lodge has hosted District 5 Conventions. The most recent one was in 2014 along with two neighboring lodges. Nordland also hosted Zone 3 officer training seminars several times.
A community service Nordland has provided since owning its own building was to serve a continental breakfast every week to the Golden K-Kiwanis Club in Janesville.
In 2009 Nordland Lodge celebrated its 35th anniversary with a smorgasboard luncheon. Special guests included District 5 officers and an International Director. We also honored charter members and past presidents. A video, “35 Years in Review”, was presented and the event ended with dessert, coffee and reminiscing with those in attendance.
As time goes on, demographics change and membership changes. We continue to make changes in our lodge accordingly. As of December, 2018, Nordland Lodge sold and vacated the building that had been our home for 28 years. A new chapter in the life of Nordland Lodge 5-544 has begun!