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History of the Swedish Heritage Center
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.
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 (FOOF) has awarded us grants including air conditioning, irrigation system, lower level replacement windows, Sankta Lucia costumes, outside marquee, projector, screen and scanner and other important equipment. Our Oakland Lions Club paid for part of the Viking ship landscaping. The City of Oakland Keno funds paid for replacing the sidewalks, while our Oakland-Craig School’s Intro to Skilled Trades class planned the entire job, including bidding and installing the concrete. Families have given memorial gifts of a granite garden bench, two flag poles, china cabinets, dining room table and chairs, not to mention beautiful crystal, table linens, pots & pans and various kitchen equipment, and the list goes on.