A reason to celebrate
Sons of Noway Færder Lodge #109 in Brooklyn, N.Y. celebrates its centennial in 2011
By Frank Bolstad
President of Færder Lodge
On Jan. 6, 2011, Sons of Norway Færder Lodge #109 of Brooklyn, N.Y., marked its centennial. Færder Lodge is the oldest Sons of Norway Lodge on the East Coast. In celebration of this historic milestone, Sons of Norway Færder Lodge will hold a gala dinner and dance on March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Rex Manor, located at 1100 60th Street in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Færder Lodge has a rich history as the first Sons of Norway Lodge on the East Coast. The first meeting was called on Thursday Dec. 8, 1910, at Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, N.Y. Seventeen members signed up the same night. At the next meeting on December 29th, nine more members signed up. On Jan. 6th, 1911, Færder Lodge #109 was instituted in Prospect Hall with 26 charter members.
The lodge was named Færder after the lighthouse in the Oslo fjord; and like Færder Fyr (lighthouse) 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.
The lodge has had its ups and downs. During the Depression, it initiated a “resting membership,” so that the lodge could keep their members even if they were unable to pay their dues. During this time, the lodge lost all its monies. The Building Fund in the Norsemen Assembly also was lost.
From then on there was only one way to go – forward. The lodge grew to over 800 members at one time. Færder members have held offices on the Sons of Norway Third District and the International Board; and have also been very active delegates to the Sons of Norway international conventions through the years.
The first issue of “Færder Glimt,” the lodge newsletter, came out June 7, 1937. The price was 2 cents and a booster cost $1 a year.
Færder Lodge has been very active in the Norwegian-American community 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 World War II: 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.
On April 11, 1940, Færder Lodge was the first Sons of Norway Lodge to donate $700 to “Norgeshjelpen” (help for Norway). Together with Daughters of Norway Urd Lodge, they donated a completely furnished room to the Norwegian Children’s Home in Brooklyn and a “Færder Hybel” (room) at the Norske Sjømenns Hvilehjem Eidsvold in Katonah, N.Y.
Through the years, the lodge arranged many events where well-known persons from Norway gave lectures; and after awhile Færder Forum was started. At these meetings lively discussions followed after each lecture. Færder Lodge was also a member of the Norske Nasjonal Forbund. Norwegian Parliament President C.J. Hambro was an honorary member of Færder Lodge.
On Oct. 3, 1943, a Junior Lodge was instituted. The membership reached over 200 at one time. It was organized by Carl W. Refsland and was in existence for many years. The Færder Drill team was organized in 1956. The first performance was for the installation of officers of Færder Lodge in January 1957. The Drill Team were busy during Installation time every year and did a lot of traveling around N.Y., N.J., Mass. and Conn. They also installed the new officers of the Third District at the Convention in New York in 1968. The drill team was dissolved in 1984.
In November 1972, a dream was finally realized when Færder House was purchased. We had our own home in which we took great pride. The members put a lot of work into keeping this home in a good condition. In November of 1992, the lodge was able to “burn the mortgage” and own the building free and clear.
Færder Singers were organized in the fall of 1975. The singers were active for about ten years in the community singing in various churches, hospitals, nursing homes and other local events. The choir was supported by a very active Ladies Auxiliary.
In order to take advantage of the booming real estate market in Brooklyn, Færder House was sold in 1997. The lodge is currently meeting at the Danish Club, Where members can enjoy great fellowship.
Unfortunately, the lodge membership has become smaller, due to several reasons. Being the oldest lodge in the Third District, our membership was old in years, so a large number is now deceased. Also a factor is the minimal number of immigrants coming into our area and the move to suburbia by some former members. The lodge is working hard to generate interest for Sons of Norway in the second and third generation descendants of our forefathers, and we do hope that some of our younger members will be interested enough to take over and continue to preserve our Norwegian heritage and culture, so that it will live on for years to come and Færder Lodge can face the future with hope.
This article was originally published in the Jan. 14, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email email@example.com.