Solvang Lutheran Home Opens

Sunday April 19, 1953

Solvang Lutheran Home (foreground) in 1953.
The retirement home w
as initially incorporated into the Atterdag College campus.  

The retirement facility known today as Atterdag Village of Solvang, was dedicated and put into operation as the non-profit and non-denominational Solvang Lutheran Home on April 19, 1953.

The idea was first brought up five years earlier at Bethania Lutheran Church. Pastor Møller led the formation of a committee and the church gave six acres of the campus for the creation of the new senior facility. Although the Atterdag building still stood on the land, college activities had diminished over the years.

Initially there were three residents plus the manager and his wife in the new six-room unit. By the end of 1954, there were three buildings housing 17 residents.

The stately Atterdag College (1914-1951) overlooks town.

Atterdag College, an educational and Danish cultural institution, opened in 1914. Classes and activities encouraged intellectual pursuits, innovation and imagination in the young adult students.  Although college classes ceased in 1937, the facility remained a bustling center of activity, serving many purposes for the community.

From 1938-1951, Viggo and Cora Tarnow ran a popular children’s camp each summer. Fall through spring, it served as a much-needed hotel for visitors, filling a critical void. The gymnasium was regularly used for community events – weddings, parties, conferences, church activities and local meetings. But perhaps the gym is now best remembered by the many students who attended weekly gymnastics classes, stretching on the bars and vaulting over the “horses” until its closing in 1970.

As the retirement home grew, Atterdag College’s main building was ultimately left vacant. Disuse led to disrepair and by 1970 the tough decision was made to demolish the structure and make room for growth of the Solvang Lutheran Home.

Danish folk dancers at Atterdag College.

In 2009, the Solvang Lutheran Home – now a full-scale continuing care retirement facility – changed its name to Atterdag Village of Solvang, paying homage to its iconic predecessor. Over the decades, many former college and gymnastics students returned to the site of their youthful experiences to live in the retirement community.

A plaque marks the college’s former location and reads “…dedicated to the art of making living itself an art.” This seems to ring true for all of Solvang and its development over the years.

Presently, the entrance to Atterdag Village is closed to visitors – like senior care facilities around the world. If you are in the area on Thursday April 23 at 3pm, Solvang Parks and Rec invites the community to participate in a car parade through the facility grounds to wave and send love to our isolated seniors. RSVPs appreciated: jennym@cityofsolvang.com.

Persistence, cooperation and imagination will carry us forward just as it has done throughout Solvang's history.

Stay safe,

The Elverhøj Team

Want to learn more about the history of Solvang?
The Spirit of Solvang book is available for shipping or curbside pick-up. Call 805-686-1211 or email info@elverhoj.org to place an order.

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+ $7.95 for shipping

ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art

1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463


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