In 1985, the First Covenant Church closed it's doors, and the building stood empty for several years. With it's beautiful architecture and stained glass windows, something had to be done to protect it. A group of community members formed a board and decided to transform the building into a museum --- the Swedish Heritage Center.
On June 1, 1989, the revisions were finished and we opened the doors to the public. A curator was hired, Mrs. Elsie Sebberson, who greeted guests in her Swedish outfit and welcomed them in Swedish, and always had the coffee on. Sadly, Elsie left us after ten years and the museum was virtually closed. There wasn't anyone stepping up to keep the museum open and presentable, until an Oakland native came to visit his relatives in Oakland and got a key to look at the place. It was love at first site! Tom Wallerstedt decided that he was moving back to his hometown of Oakland, and he was going to do what needed to be done to revitalize the building and exhibits. Five years has gone by, and the Heritage Center has never looked better.
In 2015, a grant was written to the Nielsen Foundation to help pay for remodeling the basement, from top to bottom. The kitchen was completely redone, as well as both handicapped bathrooms. In 2022, another grant was written (and granted) to replace the outside material covering the stained glass windows. Our local Friends of Oakland Foundation has given us several grants, for projectors, scanners, repairs and maintenance. Many donations have been received from generous people who love the Heritage Center - anything from Swedish treasures, pots & pans, dishes, furniture, outdoor seating, and the list goes on and on.
We have two areas dedicated for gift shops. One area carries Oakland memorabilia and items like t-shirts, cups, hand-made craft items, paper roses made out of old Swedish books, and the upstairs area contains items from Sweden - dala horses, books, candles, glassware, and kitchen items.