Cleng Peerson Lodge - Sons of Norway
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History of Our Club

Cleng Peerson – Sons of Norway Chapter #525

35 years of history….


After several months of hard work by George Strand, organizer, Cleng Peerson Lodge was instituted on October 29, 1972. The lodge was named for the first Norwegian immigrant to America , Cleng Peerson, and at the time it was chosen, had not been used by any other lodge.

The charter president, Lester Seversike, and the first secretary, Leif Myre, spent long hours getting the lodge going, and welcomed the guidance and counsel of Mr. Strand.

The largest charter in the history of Sons of Norway (with over 1000 charter members) was received at Cleng Peerson Lodge's first Syttende Mai banquet on May 17, 1973 in Ottawa .

The lodge first met at Holiday Inn in Morris and then Ottawa , then at the Masonic Temples in these cities. We now meet in the Norway Improvement League Building in Norway , IL.

Over the years our money making projects have been baked food sales, flea markets, garage sales, and a booth in the La Salle County Arts and Crafts Shows in Ottawa .

We donate annually to many local worthy organizations and members ring the bells for Salvation Army each Christmas season.

We meet the third Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. and we welcome all lodges to come visit us. Our sister lodge is NorDeka at DeKalb and Polar Star Lodge of Aurora.




Norsk Museum


A significant extension and pride of the lodge is their Norsk Museum .  This building represents a significant portion of our Norwegian-American history.  Not only is this the oldest Norwegian Lutheran Church in North America, it was built in the oldest permanent Norwegian settlement in North America, founded in 1825 by pioneer Cleng Peerson and the Sloopers.  Cleng Peerson is known as the Father of Norwegian Immigration.  The Sloopers were Norwegian Quakers and Quaker sympathizers, who came to America in 1825. They sailed on the Restauration with 46 passengers and a crew of 6.  This museum is dedicated to Norwegian art, worship and industry. 


The church/museum is located in Norway , Illinois on highway 71, and 9 miles northeast of Ottawa , Illinois .  Cleng Peerson Lodge’s interest in this historic building is a natural outcome of working our lodge’s strategic plan to raise awareness of Sons of Norway and Cleng Peerson Lodge throughout the Chicagoland area.  The Norsk Museum allows us to promote and preserve Norwegian heritage and culture while supporting the ongoing work of this viable community organization.


The Norsk Museum is open year-round to visiting groups of students, teachers and international visitors; and is open to the public on weekends between the months of June and September, hours 1-5 p.m., being staffed solely by volunteers.


Material for the present building was hauled 70 miles from Chicago to Norway (IL) by wagon and oxen.  It was used as a house of worship from its dedication in 1848 to it’s decommissioning in 1918.  From then on, it was used by the nearby Fox River Lutheran Church as a meeting place.  In 1977, the Cleng Peerson Lodge purchased the old church for $15,000. 


The museum collection was donated by local families in honor of their ancestors, including many articles brought with emigrants from Norway .  The Thompson sisters, Eunice and Chrystal of Pontiac, IL, were the major contributors.  Since 1977, the museum collection has outgrown the original church, so the museum board built its first addition to include room to display kitchen artifacts and “indoor plumbing” bath rooms (not 1840’s authentic however).  Later, a large second wing was built to hold the expanding collection of furniture and farm tools.


The church building is a testimonial to Elling Eielsen (Hauge Synod), the Norwegian who first began Lutheran worship services in North America (in the Fox River area of Norway , Illinois ) in 1839.  In 1841, the first church built by Eielsen, a log cabin structure, burned after several years use, and the building there today took its place. Eielsen was born in Voss , Norway , 70 miles east of Bergen on September 19, 1804.  As a young man he went to Bergen to learn the trades of blacksmithing and carpentering, which was later helpful for the immigrants in America . 


His Majesty King Olav V of Norway dedicated the Cleng Peerson Memorial on October 17, 1975 as part of our 150th Anniversary of Norwegian Immigration.  During that week King Olav V also stopped to view the Norsk Museum . 


Our community building, home of the Cleng Peerson Lodge, is just across the highway from the museum, and sits on 4.5 acres which was part of the original farm owned by Cleng Peerson.  



  • 11/26/1972      Sunday, at Ottawa Women’s clubhouse, Cleng Peerson Lodge, held first membership meeting, Lester Seversike, president.  Membership at 272.
  • 1/21/1973        lodge initiated 350 new members at Ottawa inn.
  • 2/27/1973        membership 1,000, [largest SONS chapter in USA and Canada ]
  • Kumla Supper held every March from 1973-1998
  • 5/27/1973        Syttende Mai banquet at St. Francis Hall, Ottawa at 7pm, to receive charter.
  • bon fire to celebrate St. Hans Day, the longest day of the year, every July from 1973-1974
  • lodge has new song, written by Evelyn Brue Roeder, called “Norwegian Dream” on 12/1973
  • Norwegian Yule Party every December from 1973-present
  • Fish dinner in Nov 1973-74, then lutefisk-meatball dinner in October 2004-present
  • Syttende Mai banquet held every May from 1973-present
  • Aug-74            Lucille Wallem presented drawing of proposed Norwegian Center building
  • 10/17/1975      King Olav V of Norway to visit Ottawa High School for luncheon
  • 1977    The Norsk Museum at Norway , IL was an old Norwegian Lutheran Church purchased by Cleng Peerson Lodge. It has its own board elected from Sons of Norway members, chartered as a non-profit organization. The museum is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5, May through September.
  • 3/11/1978        Mervin Eastwold presented preliminary floor plans for theNorsk Museum
  • 1978    Cleng Peerson’s Dugout, a replica of the first home of Cleng Peerson was built in cooperation with the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, and is located next to our community building.
  • Nov-78            Johny Johnson working as advisor of museum interior restoration.
  • 12/1/1978        Norsk Museum adding kitchen addition.
  • 8/22/1979        restoration begins on Norsk Museum , property of the Norwegian Center, Inc. [holding corp of Cleng Peerson Lodge]
  • 10/1/1979        restoration on Norsk Museum steeple and belfry
  • 10/9/1979        Norwegian Slooper annual meeting held at Norsk Museum
  • 11/21/1979      Norsk Museum windows repaired, added security screens
  • 5/5/1980          Norsk Museum in need on $3,000 to purchase Norwegian kitchen artifacts.
  • Dec-80                        construction beings on new community building, on 4.2 acres in Norway , in Cleng Peerson Memorial Park , by Norway Improvement League.
  • 5/8/1982          State of Illinois erected historical marker highway signs, on Rt 71 [dedication]
  • 8/6/1982          Cleng Peerson Memorial Park adding second ball field.
  • 10/10/1982      dedicate newest addition to Cleng Peerson Memorial Park , Hart Rosdail Field, in Norway
  • clean-up day at Norsk Museum every April from 1979 to present
  • 2006    lodge website created, please visit


Persons of note:

  • Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius served as the first president of Norsk Museum board from 1975-1985.
  • Howard Eltrevoog served as president of Norsk Museum board from 1985-president.
  • Florence Eltrevoog serving as treasurer of Norsk Museum and Cleng Peerson lodge from 1985-present.
  • Marion Marshall, a member of Cleng Peerson, has served on the Fifth District Board for eight years, first as a director and then as Cultural Director.
  • George Strand, organizer, Cleng Peerson Lodge
  • Richard Larson, first vice president
  • Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius, past president, lodge, Norway Improvement League , Norway Center.
  • Harold Ugland provided for the museum’s future, through his estate, when he passed away in 1985.




Past Presidents  Cleng Peerson – Sons of Norway Chapter #525

1. 1973-1975 [3]

Lester Seversike (1918-1982)

2. 1976-1977 [2]

Bjarne Eltrevoog (1926-1989)

3. 1978-1979 [2]

Henry L. Barschdorf (1908-2001)

4. 1980-1984 [5]

Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)

5. 1985-1988 [4]

Edwin Farmer (1911-1990)

6. 1989-1990 [2]

Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)

7. 1991-1993 [3]

Lowell Varness (1925-2005)

8. 1994-1998 [5]

Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius

9. 1999-2002 [4]

Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)

10. 2003-2006 [4]

Orion Carlson

11. 2007-

Jerry Johnson