Fabulous Færder Lodge turns 105

Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket Illustration of Færder lighthouse from the book Nordiska taflor of unknown author and published by Albert Bonnier in 1868. Brooklyn’s oldest Sons of Norway is named for this beacon.

Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket
Illustration of Færder lighthouse from the book Nordiska taflor of unknown author and published by Albert Bonnier in 1868. Brooklyn’s oldest Sons of Norway is named for this beacon.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

April is a wonderful month for renewal. And that is just what Færder Lodge Sons of Norway will do on the 23rd, by celebrating their 105th birthday at the Bay Ridge Manor.

Lois Hedlund, president of the lodge, shared some highlights from its illustrious history. I began by asking her to speak a little about how and why Færder was created.

She responded, “A Penny postcard from deceased Brother G.A. Røberg to the newspaper Skandinaven in Chicago forwarded to Lauritz Stavnhelm, secretary at the Home Office in Minneapolis, about Sons of Norway’s work and goals was the start of organizing the first Sons of Norway Lodge in the eastern part of the United States. The lodge was named Færder after the lighthouse in Oslofjord; like Færder Fyr is a guiding light on the Norwegian coast so has Færder Lodge been a guiding light for Sons of Norway lodges on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

“The first meeting was called on Thursday, December 8, 1910, at Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, New York. Seventeen members signed up the same night. At the next meeting on December 29, nine more members signed up. On January 6, 1911, Færder Lodge #109 was instituted in Prospect Hall with 26 charter members. One of them, Brother O.C. Christopher, celebrated his 100th birthday on March 10, 1985. He is also known as the Father of the Third District. Brother G.A. Røberg was the first president of the lodge.”

Sons of Norway organizations are very mission oriented. I asked Hedlund if she could tell our readers a little about some highlights from this part of Faerder’s history.

“Færder Lodge has been very active in the Norwegian Colony in Brooklyn and supported numerous charities such as the Norwegian Children’s Home, the Norwegian Christian Home, Eger Home, Camp Norge, and the Norwegian Seamen’s Church, and during the Second World War: Red Cross, President Roosevelt’s Fund, War Fund and American Relief for Norway, Little Norway, and Norske Sjømenn’s Gave Fond. In the later years, the lodge also has supported BRAVO (a local volunteer ambulance service), Sons of Norway Foundation, Ski for Light, Vinland Center, and Third District Charitable Trust Fund. Many of the lodge members donated monies to Land of the Vikings when it was purchased. Færder members put in many hours of labor at LOV remodeling two rooms with adjoining bathrooms and also supplying furniture and decor.”

One wonders how in the world this organization has been able to maintain its longevity through the many political and social changes that have occurred over the last century plus, not to mention the ever-changing face of immigration in Brooklyn. These factors do not seem to be letting up. So I asked Hedlund, “What do you envision for Færder’s future?”

She answered with practical buoyancy: “Although the Norwegian community in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has dwindled since the 1950s when it was at its peak, Færder Lodge is still active, holding monthly meetings at the Danish Club or at Sporting Club Gjøa, participating in Zone One activities, and sending delegates to the District Convention held every two years. We also have representatives on the 17 May Parade Committee of Greater New York, which plans the annual parade in Bay Ridge, and we march in that parade. We look forward to the future with optimism.”

And so they should. I had a chance to ask Sylvia Odegard Reich, Færder Lodge vice president and one of their newer members, how she became interested in joining the lodge. She explained, “A few years ago, I had a great desire to reconnect with my Norwegian heritage and decided to join a Sons of Norway lodge. I chose Færder Lodge, Brooklyn, N.Y., and right away I felt connected to my fellow landsmen. It is meaningful to know that you are part of a fraternal organization whose goal is to preserve our Norwegian heritage. Joining Færder has led to new friendships and introduction to other Norwegian activities.”

That’s why Færder Lodge—at 105—remains fabulous, fantastic, phenomenal!

This article originally appeared in the April 22, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.