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100 Year old church restored near Rugby

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 8:01 PM CDT
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RUGBY, N.D. – An old church near Rugby was on its last legs, but some passionate patrons are giving the prairie landmark a facelift.

The church now looks the way it did more than 100 years ago thanks to the restoration. Head of the project , Terry Jelsing, said he remembers attending services here as a child.

“I would be in one of these pews with my father about six o’clock in the morning for some sunrise service, and be not a lot of heat in here especially in April. The thing that kept you kind of glued to this place was the smell of pancakes and coffee coming up through the grates in the back here, " said Terry.

The white steeple on the prairie is a classic of rural America fading away in today’s age. “If we didn’t save them... There’s nothing there to prove it was actually here. So this is real, reality is there is a church here, and it looks a lot like it did 100 years ago, " said Cathy Jelsing, Tunbridge Lutheran Church Preservation Society.

The organization started work in 2020 to open the building for the community’s festivities and events.

“The style of a church is very very common throughout the Midwest and the northern plains and so I think everyone’s gonna remember a family photo or a wedding picture, " said Cathy.

They’ve finished the outside, and will work on the inside next. “It’s a way of honoring them and it’s also a way of thinking of the structure as an adaptive reuse structure something to share with the community, " said Terry.

They said they hope to raise enough money hosting events to pay for maintenance of the building and cemetery going forward.

They have an open house May 28 from 11 a.m. through the afternoon, for people to check out the progress and donate to the cause.

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