Finnish-American and Nordic Attractions in the U.S.

Click the name of each location for a link to more information on that attraction. 

CALIFORNIA

Pasadena Museum of History
P1030350The Fenyes Mansion, which was the home of Consul Y.A. “George” Paloheimo and his wife Leonora Curtin was the birthplace of Finlandia Foundation National in 1953. It is now a part of the Pasadena history museum complex. Visitors may take a Fenyes mansion guided tour of the gracious 1906 Beaux Arts-style home, which was in Leonora’s family. The tour includes the Finnish Folk Art Museum (shown) housed in the sauna tupa, which Yrjö had constructed using a rustic building he had moved onto the grounds. 

The mansion has been used as a film location since 1912, when it was a setting for D.W. Griffith’s When Kings were the Law (aka The Necklace).

You’ll catch glimpses of the house in several other productions including the movies Being There and The Social Network, television’s The West Wing, and the Beyonce music video “Formation.”

DELAWARE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKalmar Nyckel 
The tall ship Kalmar Nyckel is a replica of the vessel that brought immigrants from Sweden and Finland to North America in 1638. These settlers established the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. The full-scale recreation was built in 1997.

She sails on a variety of cruises open to the public from April-October out of her home port at Wilmington, Delaware and other East Coast ports. Deck tours are often available.

New Sweden Centre
A “museum without walls” represents the history of the colonial settlement through exhibits at several location in the Wilmington area as well as through the annual Colonists’ Day, with costumed interpreters, each April.

 

FLORIDA

Suomi Talo – Finland House
The current gathering place in Lantana has a long history that dates to the 1930s when Florida began attracting “snowbirds” with Finnish roots who wanted a place to socialize during their wintertime visits. Called the Finnish Tourist Club in the 1940s, the group raised funds to help war widows and orphans in Finland. The post-war efforts of dedicated supporters and volunteers led to construction of a hall in 1948. By 1992 the name was changed to Finland House, and the building on Finlandia Avenue is still a gathering place for visitors as well as residents who attend social programs, events and activities, mostly between October and April. The library and Price of Freedom museum are on the second floor. Click here for more Suomi Talo history and information

 

INDIANA

Miller House and Garden
Considered one of the finest examples of mid-century modern home design, the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana was created by the team of Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard and Dan Kiley. Commissioned in 1953, the Miller House was occupied until 2009 when it was bequeathed to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The home is open and tours are available year-round. Columbus is about 50 miles south of Indianapolis. Click here for Vintage Shots of Eero Saarinen’s Masterful Miller House. 

 

MAINE

Finnish Congregational Church and Parsonage
The church was built in 1921 and the parsonage (now the Finnish Heritage House) in 1925 by Finnish community in Thomaston, Maine. They are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finnish-American Heritage Society of Main
The museum in West Paris displays photos and artifacts related to the Finnish community including the churches and Co-Op. It is housed in a boarding house where many immigrant Finnish men stayed when they arrived in America. The building has an import shop.

Finnish Heritage House
Visitors are welcome to view special exhibits and attend events and activities at this center in South Thomaston. It is also a home for Finnish genealogical research. It was built as the parsonage for the Finnish Congregational Church.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

Fitchburg Historical Society
A new (Spring 2016) brochure of a self-guided walking tour of Fitchburg includes the historically Finnish neighborhood and views of the granite hill where many Finnish immigrants worked in the quarries. 

The Scandinavian Library
Open on Saturdays in West Newton, the library has over 6,000 books by Nordic authors, including children’s books, by authors from and about the countries and cultures of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Kaffestugan coffee shop is open during library hours, and the website has an online catalog.

 

 

 

MICHIGAN

Finnish American Heritage Center
A part of Finlandia University in Hancock, this cultural center has an art gallery and hosts exhibits and programs open to the public. Its archive houses about 20,000 items, the largest collection of Finnish-American materials in the world.

Finlandia University
Founded in 1896 as Suomi College, this private, liberal arts school in Hancock was founded by Finns and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. More than 540 students from six countries attend Finlandia.

Hanka Homestead
This remote 40-acre farm near Baraga and the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula was home to the immigrant Finnish Hanka family for 70 years, from 1896-1966. They built the farmhouse, barns, sauna and other outbuildings of hand-hewn logs. The farm is preserved as it was in 1920; little changed from that era through 1966 when Jalmer, a son who lived on the farm, died.

Kaleva 
This farming community in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, 10 miles from Lake Michigan, was settled by Finnish immigrants in 1900. Many of the street names were taken from Finland’s epic poem, “The Kalevala.” An interesting (seasonal) attraction is the Bottle House, built by John Makinen for his family home, incorporating 60,000 glass pop bottles. Now a museum, exhibits include information about the local Finnish culture. A giant metal grasshopper sculpture is a salute to the story of St. Urho, a legendary figure who saved Finland’s grape crop by chasing the insects out of the country.

 

MINNESOTA

Cokato Museum & Akerlund Studio
This history museum tells the story of the first Finnish immigrants to Minnesota.

Esko Historical Museum 
A schoolhouse, grist mill, riihi (grain drying shed), savu sauna, and 1898 log farm house tell the story of this Finnish community. A monument, inscribed in English and Finnish, honors the pioneers who arrived in 1872.

Finland Minnesota Heritage Site
A collection of buildings related to Finnish-American experience, including a sauna, blacksmith shop, 1890 homestead, 1917 schoolhouse, visitor center and Heritage Museum.

Finn Creek Open Air Museum
An 18-acre site near New York Mills includes a 1900 farmstead, savu smoke sauna and more. The Finn Creek Festival takes place each August. The first Finnish settlers arrived in New York Mills in 1874.

Hjemkomst Center
The multi-purpose civic hall in Moorhead is home of the Viking ship Hjemkomst, http://www.hcscconline.org/current-exhibits/hjemkomst-viking-ship/ modeled after a burial ship from 800 AD. There is a replica of a Norwegian Stave Church, and the annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festival. http://www.hcscconline.org/midwest-viking-festival/

St. Urho Statuest-urho_Minnesota_8244
This tower sculpture in Menahga honors St. Urho, the Legendary Patron Saint of Finland. St. Urho is credited with chasing the grasshoppers out of Finland and saving the grape crop and wine industry. Unheralded in Finland, he is celebrated every March 16 in various communities in the U.S.

Virginia Heritage Museum
Olcott Park is the setting for a traditional Finnish log house and a museum with exhibits that feature the area’s logging and lumbering history and life of the Iron Range.

 

 

NEW JERSEY

The Nothnagle Cabin
Finnish settlers built this log cabin between 1638-1643. It is believed to be the oldest log cabin in the U.S. Now a private home, the residents open their doors to interested parties on an informal basis. Click here for a news article about the cabin. 

 

OHIO

Finnish Heritage Museum
Dedicated to preserving Finnish and Finnish-North American heritage and culture, the museum in Fairport displays collections and offers programs open to the public. 

 

PENNSYLVANIA

American Swedish Historical Museum
The museum, in South Philadelphia, resembles a Swedish manor house and is on land that was part of a land grant from Queen Christina of Sweden to Sven Skute, a 17th century colonist. Exhibits include galleries dedicated to the New Sweden Colony established in 1638 in the Delaware Valley. Open year round.

 

 WASHINGTON

Nordic Heritage Museum SeattleNordic Heritage Museum
This Seattle institution is designed to “honor the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, FInland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.” In addition to its permanent collection the museum hosts special exhibits and events year round.