“Points of Interest in WI”
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Washington Island, harbors a real, almost hidden historical treasure: the Stavkirke (Church of Staves) based on drawings of one built in Borgund, Norway in 1150 AD. This was a home-grown project where skilled local craftsmen, under the direction of head carpenters, John Herschberger, Dale Bjarnarson, and a half-dozen volunteers, came together whenever time permitted, mostly in summer. John began laying the foundation of mortared beach stone and cement in 1992, then covered it all with a shed, which made it possible for the men to work on the building a few mornings each week, even in winter. David Ranney carved the dragon heads, based on the style of the old Stavkirke.
Washington Island ferry captain and author, Richard Purinton did the carved roof boards while Gary Hendrickson carved the panels in the altar, and his wife painted the faux marble supports on the altar. The beautiful model of the Mackinac schooner that hangs from the knave was built by head carpenter, John Herschberger.
The project was completed and dedicated the summer of 1995. Landscaping and the bell tower followed in time. Seven years later, by 1999, everything was in place.
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