Daughters of Norway Valkyrien No. 1 celebrates a birthday
Historic Seattle lodge marks 115 years of history and heritage
The Valkyrien Lodge Daughters of Norway story began in Seattle in 1905, when four Norwegian women found 26 others who wanted to become charter members of their lodge. A group of men had organized Seattle Sons of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge No.1, just two and a half years earlier. When these women wanted to organize, the Sons president took their pledge of unity, led their election, and installed their new officers. Thus the Order of the Daughters of Norway on the Pacific Coast was born on Oct. 19, 1905. At that time, the U.S. President was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
Minutes from a meeting on Nov. 15, 1905, state: “A motion was made and carried that the lodge be given a name, and the following names were suggested: Valkyrien and Freya.” Valkyrien was chosen. Valkyrien then became Valkyrien No.1, when Embla No. 2 of Tacoma and Freya No. 3 of Spokane were instituted in 1907. The three groups decided it was time to unify the lodges, and on Feb. 20, 1908, the Grand Lodge Daughters of Norway was officially organized.
In those early years, both Leif Erikson Lodge and Valkyrien Lodge met in various places, but they could see the need for a hall they could call their own. Valkyrien records show that in December 1908, they contributed $1,000 toward the purchase of a property on Boren Avenue, just north of downtown Seattle. A beautiful joint meeting place was built, and it was named Norway Hall. The hall was a replica of Norwegian country manor houses, and inside, the walls were decorated with massive murals of Norwegian legends.
During the Norway Hall years, Leif Erikson and Valkyrien held many events together, such as picnics, bazaars, dances, and other social gatherings. One grand event took place in 1936, when Leif Erikson hosted the Supreme Lodge Sons of Norway Convention simultaneously with Valkyrien’s hosting of the Grand Lodge Daughters of Norway Convention. Festivities were held in Norway Hall and at the elegant Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.
But with time, the Sons and Daughters organizations outgrew their beautiful hall. After many joint meetings, it was determined that expanding it was not feasible. They found a new site near Seattle’s Denny and Elliott Avenues, and this was to become Norway Center. The shareholders were Leif Erikson, Valkyrien, the Norwegian Male Chorus, and Knute Rockne Lodge No. 12. Over the years, their members enjoyed many joint and individual events there, and the Norselander Restaurant upstairs was popular for socializing and dancing. Valkyrien held their first “Norwegian Exhibit” in 1952, then annually for 31 years. The Sons and Daughters held another Grand Convention there in 1954.
When Norway Center was built in 1951, the murals were moved to this new building. Many years later, when Norway Center was sold, the murals were divided up between the Leif Erikson and Valkyrien lodges. More recently, Valkyrien gave their murals to Leif Erikson Lodge, so that once again they would be displayed together in the Sons of Norway lodge in Ballard. Many years later, on May 2, 1979, the Norwegian community was very pleased when their original meeting place, Norway Hall (now the Raisbeck Performance Hall of Cornish College of the Arts), was designated a Seattle landmark.
Thinking back, the sisters of Valkyrien Lodge know they have much to be grateful for. Those first 30 women who banded together in 1905 were willing workers dedicated to their Norwegian-American cause, a cause that has been carried on for well over a century, just as meaningful today as it was 115 years ago.
In the early years, there were two Daughters of Norway (D of N) organizations. The Midwest Daughters of Norway was established as a mutual benefit association in Minneapolis in 1897. They provided life insurance and sick benefits for their members and aimed to preserve the Norwegian language and traditions.
The first lodges of Daughters of Norway on the Pacific Coast organized were: Valkyrien No. 1 in Seattle in 1905; Embla No. 2, in Tacoma, Wash., in 1907; and Freya No. 3 in Spokane, Wash., in 1907.
It became apparent to the members of these newly formed lodges that an independent governing body would be necessary, so the Grand Lodge Daughters of Norway of the Pacific Coast was incorporated on Feb. 20, 1908. There was no insurance connected with membership, but the objectives were similar to the Midwest D of N. The two D of N organizations were never affiliated, they never met together, they had separate conventions, and even though there were attempts at a merger, they were never united.
Over the years, there were attempts at mergers between the two D of N organizations and the Sons of Norway, but there were too many changes needed. In 1949, the Midwest D of N was refused permission to underwrite more insurance in Wisconsin. The state of Minnesota threatened similar actions, and the state examiner sent a letter stating that it would be in their interest to merge with a stronger and more active fraternal society, and the D of N came to the Sons of Norway with a merger proposal. The two orders started negotiations, and in December 1950, the Midwest Daughters of Norway merged with the Sons of Norway.
The Sons of Norway presented the proposed merger to the D of N of the Pacific Coast, but it was refused. The D of N order could see no gain, fearing they would lose their independence. On July 20, 1956, at the Daughters of Norway of the Pacific Coast Convention they changed their name to “Daughters of Norway.” Amended articles of incorporation were filed with the state of Washington on Aug. 29, 1956. Freya No. 3 merged with the local Sons of Norway of the Pacific Coast (SNPC) in 1923 after SNPC began admitting women. This was an individual lodge decision.
Thelma No. 26 was founded May 8, 1908, in the Midwest Daughters of Norway. Since they were located in Everett, they petitioned for entry into DNPC in 1931.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.