Directly across the road and a few hundred years back stands the Stavkirke of Washington Island. The idea to construct a Stavkirke emerged in part because of the island's rich Scandinavian heritage. With a dream and a growing group of faithful volunteers the project began to raise funds in 1983.

The Stavkirke was envisioned as a unique setting for small worship services, gatherings, weddings and prayer and meditation.




What exactly is a Stavkirke?

Stavkirke or Stav Churches have been found throughout Europe, the greatest concentration of them are in the Scandinavian lands. The construction of Stavkirke dates back to the introduction of Christianity to Norway in the 11th Century, during the reign of St. Olav, King of Norway. Rather than using stone which many European churches used to construct their buildings, the Norwegians tapped into a strong natural resource, wood and the native artisans ability to craft it. The specialized architecture of the Stavkirke emerges out of the construction of Viking ships. With the large "stavs" or masts, the ribs of the rafters, the shipbuilding techniques of tongue and grove joinery and dragon heads at the "prows" of the gabled roofs; the wooden structure breathes and lives like a Viking ship.



In 1999 with the "topping" of the Stavkirke with its steeple the first phase of construction was complete. Literally hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours went into the construction of this place of worship.

Sitting in a small grove a beautiful prayer path leads the way to the structure. The Stavkirke has become a vital part of the ministry of Trinity Lutheran and it is used year round for special worship services and a place of quiet meditation for many as they begin their day. In addition every summer and fall thousands of people visit and spend a little time going back in time and listening for God's "still small voice" in the quiet and peacefulness that this place provides.

It has also proven to be a very popular location for weddings. Many people seek God's blessing on their marriage in this special place. For more information about the Washington Island Stavekirke, please write to:

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

1763 Townline Road

Washington Island, WI 54246

Or E-mail us at

"Topping off" late summer 1999.


Interior of the Stavkirke

Stav FAQ's

The Washington Island Stavkirke was modeled after the Borgund Stavkirke constructed in 1150 near Laerdal, Sogn. This church was chosen as it is best preserved and least altered example of this style of church architecture.

Each of the 12 , 18 foot "stavs" are all from Washington Island. 11 are Pine and one is White Fir. There are over 9,600 four inch wide shingles on the six tiered roof.