West of Moorhead in Monona County on county blacktop E54 is a small church that seems like it could be plucked right out of a Hollywood movie set. Nestled in the Loess Hills, the more than 135 year old (built in 1884) Ingemann Danish Lutheran Church will catch your eye with its magnificent steeple, architectural features, and bright white exterior.
It is quite a treat to come upon as you weave in and out of the world famous hills. With it's accompanying graveyard festooned with beautiful plants and flowers, the parcel of land in total only occupies about 2.5 acres.
According to research I found online, "The church was built in 1884 on 200 acres of land donated by John H. Johnson. An argument in 1895, caused a split, so that an Upper Danish Church was built on a hill. Ingemann Church was usually called Lower Danish Church. In later years Upper Danish Church bldg (sic). was torn down and Bethesda Lutheran Church in Moorhead was built. This Ingemann Church served many of the Danish families who lived in the nearby hills." The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012 and if you are interested in a more detailed history and description of the church, the application to get placed on the registry is 33 pages long and full of fascinating information. You can also find a briefer synopsis on its Wikipedia page.
The church has been lovingly preserved and there is an imposing black fence around the entire property. Unfortunately, that became necessary after vandals caused significant damage to this historic structure a number of years ago. Money was raised from all over to get things back into shape. It's a shame that there are people in this world who would target such a place.
The gate is unlocked for 15 hours per day and you can wander the grounds, visit graves, and even go into the church. Of course, I took the opportunity to do so during my visit.
An old bell sits on a platform outside the front door.
From the front steps of the church, you can enjoy some beautiful views of the graveyard and the surrounding Loess Hills.
The graveyard has over 300 entries on FindAGrave.com but I'm not sure how many people are actually buried here.
The first thing I did upon entering the church was look up. There is a hole where you can see up into the steeple a bit.
Of course, the church is not all that large. There are several rows of pews but they are relatively primitive in their construction. The flooring is hard wood planks.
There are a few elements of decor, including some window treatments and and a picture of Jesus above the door.
I'm not sure what this would be called or used for, but there is some art work on it.
The front of the church, where the Pastor would preach from, contains a few more ornate details.
It is wonderful that this church has been preserved and protected. There are still a number of old country churches that are in use on a regular basis, although that is becoming less common. Driving around rural Iowa, you can also still see a fair number of old country churches that most likely were built not long after the area was settled. However, many do not have the same level of care that this particular church has. I hope it can continue to be a place to appreciate for decades to come.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Monona County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.