By Katherine Kasckow
May 17, 2017
With the introduction of the railroad, homes were necessary for the surge of workers and families in the region. This led the way for the construction of businesses and social organizations such as churches. The West Side neighborhood in Laramie, Wyoming is a good example of how a typical Wyoming town grew around the railroad. The West Side became a hub for working class immigrants from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. These populations created The First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church on August 13th, 1884, conducting services in Scandinavian languages. Newly arriving immigrants who were experiencing the same cultural changes were able to support each other in the shared space of the church.
The modest Gothic Revival church can be seen crossing over the foot bridge to the West Side, partly thanks to the belfry that stands prominently over the entrance of the church. The building itself is only one-story, providing limited space to the once small congregation. The church has a rectangular footprint with a gabled roof. The façade of the building faces to the west and still retains good historic integrity.
After the turn of the 20th century, the church community began to further integrate into the rest of Laramie. In 1906, services transitioned from Scandinavian languages to English. This integration and transition led to the expansion of the congregation. In 1925, the congregation moved to a new location on 7th Street between Ivinson and University Avenues to provide better access for their larger congregation. The church on 7th Street had physical improvements done to the structure in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, with the final image showing how the building looks today. The church was later renamed Trinity Lutheran Church.
The original building that was established by the first immigrants still remains as a memento of the West Side’s ethnic history.
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