The Swedish Heritage Center came into being through the dreams of some Oakland area citizens when the First Covenant Church closed it’s doors in 1985. These area people met together and formed some plans to turn this historic building into a Swedish museum. In 1989, a Board was formed and a Curator, Elsie Sebberson, transformed the place into a beautiful building. Ten years passed and, sadly, we lost Elsie. With no curator, several years went by with limited accessibility before a retired florist, Tom Wallerstedt, moved back to his hometown, went through the building and declared “this place has to be revitalized!”. The entire “sanctuary” was renewed, displays rebuilt, and it was transformed to a place of beauty!
In 2014, with a Friends Of Oakland Foundation grant and monies given by the Donald Nielsen Foundation, the lower level was completely remodeled from a dingy basement to a modern meeting room area with a new large kitchen and handicapped restrooms. Brunches, showers, reunions, meetings of all types are held in the basement of the building now.
The building features Swedish memorabilia from families in the area, a room dedicated to displaying wedding dresses from days gone by, one area built to feature what Swedish rooms looked like in “the old days”, and a large collection of Oakland keepsakes and history. The large room, which was the sanctuary, hosts many special programs, from school choirs performing, Nebraska Department of Humanities speakers, Santa Lucia programs at Christmas time, and programs all through the year. (We even had a funeral in the building last year!). Please stop by and say hello, look through the displays, and enjoy a cup of coffee with Curator Tom.