Portal into the future

Photos: Richard Londgren Above: Torsten Olsson securing the 10-foot portal to Cal Lutheran’s Scandinavian Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Below: Woodcarver Phillip Odden made two plate rails for SACHF.


“Old Norse” becomes “New Nordic” at Cal Lutheran University’s Scandinavian Center

By Richard Londgren

Director of the CLU Scandinavian Center

Thousand Oaks, Calif.

When the Scandinavian Center’s  “new” but “old” ornate church portal went on outdoor display at the annual Scandinavian Festival in April, it generated lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from the visitors at the California Lutheran University campus event in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

After that temporary exposure, the portal went on to a more permanent location in the CLU Scandinavian Center. Check out the 10-foot-tall portal in the photo showing ScanCenter craftsman Torsten Olsson securing it to the wall inside the Center.

Sandra Grunewald arranged for carver Phillip Odden of Norsk Woodworks in Wisconsin to create the portal and deliver it to the CLU campus.

Besides teaching accounting at CLU, she serves as treasurer of the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation (which includes the Scandinavian Center as one of its functions). She also directs the Scandinavian Festival.

Besides initiating the creation of the portal, she commissioned for SACHF two new carved plate rails created by Phillip. (See the closeup photo of the end of one of the plate rails).

SACHF’s investment of approximately $40,000 for the carvings is expected to stimulate interest in and donations for a new permanent Scandinavian facility on the CLU campus.

During the Scandinavian Worship Service that was part of the Scandinavian Festival, the offering was designated for use by the new Scandinavian Student Club at CLU. (In a related photo from the worship service, the Rev. Line Kvalvaag of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro, Calif., thanks Sarah Peterson and Jared Berman for their leadership of the new Scandinavian Student Club.)

Just a few days earlier, the CU student body senate had approved for the first time the establishment of a Scandinavian Student Club at CLU. The club sponsor is Michael Hart, a Norwegian-American of the faculty of the CLU music department. Meanwhile, club members had helped at the Scandinavian Festival and are assisting at the Scandinavian Center.

For more information about the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Assocation, visit scandinaviancenter.org.

This article originally appeared in the May 18, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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