Norwegian treasures in central Pennsylvania
You’ll come for the stabbur but stay for a tour of this unique Norwegian collection
Christine Foster Meloni
In 1994 Norwegian-American Dr. J. J. Henry converted his parents’ southern colonial home into an elegant Bed and Breakfast, the Inn at Solvang. In 1989 he built a stabbur, which has been made available to the B&B guests since 2014.
The crown jewel of the property, however, is The Shed, a splendid showcase for the Henry family’s impressive collection of Norwegian art. Originally a shed that housed a tractor, it was renovated and expanded and now contains a spacious dining room, living room, and kitchen.
The Shed is truly a treasure trove of things Norwegian, some of which are highlighted below.
Vintage Doll Collection
Dr. Henry has an extensive collection of vintage Hilde Ege dolls. Ege was the most famous doll maker in Norway from the early- to mid-20th century. She specialized in dolls dressed in regional and traditional costumes. Her factory was in Oslo where, it is said, she sheltered Resistance fighters during WWII.
Plates and Mugs
Dr. Henry has a collection of Vassfaret plates and mugs that were originally commissioned to be used as a fundraiser for a charity in Nes i Ådal. Vassfaret refers to a valley located northeast of Nes.
Several lovely paintings of Norwegian landscapes adorn the walls of The Shed. The one most worthy of note is “Trollfjord” by Berndt Balchen, the illustrious polar aviator whose hobby was watercolor painting. This is one of the few of his paintings that depicts a Norwegian scene, as most of his paintings are of the North and South Polar regions.
The carved picture of the sailboat by Kaaland is particularly special because Dr. Henry’s grandfather purchased it from the artist himself.
Many doors, cupboards, and pieces of furniture in The Shed have been embellished with Norwegian scenes or motifs. For example, the kitchen (kjøkken) door features a small boy dressed as a fisherman, admiring a large fish, while the door to the living room (storstua) is decorated with lovely flowers. One can also see an exquisitely painted grandfather clock and corner cupboard. There is a traditional chest painted by the aforementioned Hilde Ege during one of her many visits to Huntingdon.
Solvang is a slice of Norway in the heart of Pennsylvania. If you are interested in staying in either the Inn at Solvang or the Norwegian Stabbur, go to the website at www.huntingdonbedandbreakfast.com or contact Stephanie the innkeeper at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The Shed is not open to the general public but you may ask the innkeeper for a private tour with Dr. Henry, who is a most knowledgeable guide.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 18, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.