Solvang Centennial

1911 - 2011

Historical Photos of Solvang

Join the Danish Village of Solvang California, as we explore the historical cultural heritage of our quaint European Village. Be inspired by our old world charm mixed with fresh ideas as we pursue creative new directions.

Elverhoj Museum
of History & Art

Olde Mission
Santa Inés

Taste of Solvang logo

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September 1, 2011)

Solvang Sweet Treats Trail

Hungry for some sweets you'll find delicious Danish pastries, aebleskive, hand dipped chocolates, hand made fudge, European and American candies and more in Solvang! Just check out the NEW .

Located approximately 35 miles from the Santa Barbara, CA, Pacific Ocean south-facing beach and about 35 miles from the Vandenberg Air Force Base Pacific Ocean west-facing beach. Solvang enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine each year.

Solvang's Centennial

SOLVANG Heritage Trail Project

The Solvang Heritage Trail Project is coordinated by the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art and the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau. Dedication ceremonies will take place throughout the Village of Solvang on the Third Wednesday of each month at 2:30pm during the Centennial year of 2011. There will be more than two dozen sites along the Heritage Trail when
it is fully developed. Elverhoj Museum of History & Art collects preserves and exhibits the history and Danish culture of Solvang and promotes the arts. Solvang Conference &Visitors Bureau positively impacts the economic well-being of the “Danish Capital of America” by marketing the region as an outstanding destination for leisure and business travel.

January Theme: History

The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang , was designated as the first stop along a new historic and walking tour of Solvang in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon, January 19, 2:30 - 3:30 PM. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits the history and Danish culture of Solvang and promotes the arts.

The museum has also opened a new exhibit, “The Spirit of Solvang: Capturing the Past in Photographs,” which tells the story of Solvang through a series of striking black and white images from the museum’s collection.

Mayor Jim Richardson gave the designation certificate for the Heritage Trail to Elverhoj board president Erik Gregersen and pinned a star on a map in front of an audience of about 30 people.

“We are proud to be the first star on the map and excited for the upcoming events associated with Solvang’s centennial. Our mission here at the Elverhoj is to preserve our history, customs and culture from Denmark,” Gregerson said.

Wednesday’s ceremony was the first of 12 monthly events in Solvang’s centennial year that will dedicate historical sites and other points of interest along the route.

February Theme: Education

More than 50 people, many of them former Solvang School students and Bethania Lutheran Church members joined in honoring Solvang's cultural heritage by attending the second of twelve themed monthly ceremonies that will dedicate historical sites and points of interest along Solvang's emerging Heritage Trail.

Mayor Jim Richardson presented certificates to representatives of the three institutions and marked a The Solvang Heritage map with three new stars one for Bethania Lutheran Church, another for Solvang School and another for Atterdag Village were added to Solvang’s emerging Heritage Trail, February 16.

Bethania Lutheran Church, founded by the early Danish settlers, continues an emphasis on education by hosting the annual Farstrup-Mortensen Lectures.

Solvang School has been educating local children for since the 1920s, and the present site of Atterdag Village was the original site of Atterdag College, which was founded by the area’s Danish immigrants as a folk school to preserve Danish customs and culture.

The site of Atterdag College, which was founded by the area’s original Danish immigrants as a folk school to preserve Danish customs and culture, is now the site of the Solvang Lutheran Home, which recently changed its name to the Atterdag Village of Solvang.

Each February, Bethania Lutheran Church hosts the Farstrup-Mortensen Lectures, with guest speakers who continue the legacy of two Danish-American pastors and educators who advocated the development of one’s humanity, including the intellect, to its fullest in order to be more receptive to the word of God.

March Theme: Culinary

March Centennial theme was Culinary, and at 2:30 p.m. during the March 16th, “Third Wednesday” event, 1588 Mission Drive, was dedicated as another site on the new Heritage Trail.

The ceremony honored Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, the Danish Mill Bakery, Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery & Coffee Shop, and the Solvang Bakery.

Since 1993, the Taste of Solvang has featured cuisine, locally grown foods, wines and live entertainment throughout town.

Check out the new “” map, listing the dozens of confectionery delights. You'll find authentic Danish pastries, including kringles, marzipan, almond rings, cakes, cookies, tarts and breads as well as handmade chocolates and fudge. More than a dozen of Danish restaurants and bakeries provide eats and sweets galore in the Village of Solvang. Examples include frikadeller (meatballs), medisterpolse (Danish sausage), rodkaal (red cabbage), the Smorgaasbord (buffet) and, the aebleskiver (Danish pancake balls served with fresh raspberry jam and powdered sugar). Yummy! Local fruits, veggies and flowers are found every Wednesday afternoon year-round at the Farmers’ Market on First Street, and local restaurants also feature California wine country cuisine,Italian, Japanese, Chinese, German and Mexican fare.

APRIL – JUNE 2011 (pdf)

April Theme: Cultural Arts

On Wednesday, April 20th, the Veterans Memorial Building, Solvang Library, and Hans Christian Andersen Museum became the latest “stars” added to the Solvang Heritage Trail — a tour through downtown Solvang honoring institutions, attractions, industries and points of interest symbolizing the cultural heritage of the “Danish Capital of America.”

Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr presided over the dedication ceremony outside the Veterans Memorial Building to add all three “living, breathing, dynamic institutions” to the trail. The centennial theme for April is cultural arts, and each of the three locations holds a special place in Solvang’s history, Farr told an audience of about 15 people.

Since it opened in the early 1930s at 1745 Mission Drive, the Veterans Memorial Building has been a hub for community gatherings of many kinds. Cornerstone ceremonies were held on Flag Day in 1936.

After accepting the official recognition certificate from Farr, American Legion Post 160 Commander Jerry Lunde asked attendees to keep those missing in action and those who have died in service to the U.S. in their minds and to keep those serving today in their prayers.

Peder P. Hornsyld, one of Solvang’s founders, established the town’s first “library” in 1911 in a small room at the entrance of the Solvang Hotel.

In June 1912, the Solvang branch of the Santa Barbara County Free Library opened. The current library, a branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library System, has been located in a county building adjacent to the Veterans Memorial Building since April 1960.

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum, above the Book Loft bookstore at 1680 Mission Drive, formally opened to the public in 1990 on what would have been the 185th birthday of “The Little Mermaid” author. Founded by Gary and Kathy Mullins, the museum specializes in Andersen’s books and memorabilia.

May Theme: Hospitality

The latest monthly ceremony in creating an educational walking tour of Solvang added the community’s symbolic windmills to the Heritage Trail map on May 18.

In keeping with the Centennial Committee’s hospitality theme for May, the Wednesday afternoon ceremony acknowledged Solvang’s long traditions of hospitality and the significance of tourism by honoring the community symbols.

“Windmills with their graceful vanes have come to be recognized as the spirit of welcome to Solvang — and they create lasting images for thousands of visitors every year,” said Executive Director Tracy Farhad of the Solvang Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The dedication took place in the windmill at 1547 Mission Drive, now the home of Solvang Brewing Company, but other structures honored included the windmills on Alisal Road near Copenhagen Drive and in Hamlet Square at Copenhagen Drive and Second Street, as well as the Solvang Visitor Information Center, 1639 Copenhagen Drive, that is operated by the Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau.

The visitors bureau is celebrating 25 years of service as the city’s tourism marketing agency this year.

June Theme: Sports & Recreation

Solvang Park has been added to the community’s new “Heritage Trail” to mark the importance that the town’s first Danish settlers placed on fitness, sports and recreation.

The park was once the backyard of the Rev. Jens M. Gregersen, one of the town’s three founders; the land was donated to the community on June 6, 1936, after his widow’s death.

Erik Gregersen, one of their grandsons, helped with the June 15 ceremony adding the park to the Heritage Trail.

“It makes me proud because every time I go by the park, people are using it. You don’t always see that with small parks,” he said.

Mayor Jim Richardson read the names of the city’s volunteer Parks and Recreation Commission members and Parks and Recreation Department employees and thanked them for their efforts in preserving and improving the community’s recreational opportunities.

July Theme: Denmark Links

To celebrate one of Solvang’s most artistic and tangible links to Denmark, the beautiful “Little Mermaid” statue on the corner of Mission Drive and Alisal Road was the next site to be dedicated on the emerging Solvang Heritage Trail.

Solvang’s statue was installed in July 1976 by Earl Petersen, owner of Denmarket Square, who learned of this replica’s existence and bought it sight unseen with a phone call to the artist’s family in Copenhagen.

Petersen had the fountain built as a special showcase for the statue.

This July marks the statue’s 35th anniversary in Solvang and the 26th anniversary of the statue being used as Solvang’s official city logo.

Local use of the statue was fully authorized by heirs of sculptor Edvard Eriksen (1876-1959), who created the original “Den Lille Havfrue” in 1913.

The original was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, part of the Carlsberg Brewery family, who was fascinated by a ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale that was performed in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre.

The statue’s head is said to be modeled after prima ballerina Ellen Price and the lithe body after the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen. The original is only about 50 inches tall, but it has gained an international reputation as it sits at the edge of Copenhagen Harbor.

August Theme: Cultural Diversity

August theme established by the Solvang Centennial Committee, to honor “the tapestry of native Chumash, Spanish, American and Danish cultures woven into the city’s heritage.”

To that end, the month includes a celebration of the Solvang Festival Theater’s history as well as the American premier of “My Fairytale,” a musical whose central character is Hans Christian Andersen, perhaps the most famous and beloved figure in Danish literature.

September Theme:

The next star to be added to the city’s emerging Heritage Trail, a walking tour highlighting the community’s history and culture, will be the site of Solvang’s first folk school, now the Bit O’ Denmark Restaurant 473 Alisal Road.

The public is invited to join community leaders at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in dedicating the historical site with a festive program and complimentary refreshments.

The folk school is a unique Danish institution that immigrants to America brought along with them.

Solvang’s three founders came to the West Coast for the express purpose of establishing a Danish folk school as the heart and soul of the new “colony” where cultural traditions would thrive.

The first folk school in Solvang opened its doors on Nov. 15, 1911, with 21 male and female students. Officially it was called “Ungdomsskolen i Solvang” (Young People’s School in Solvang), but the early residents called it “hojskolen” (the high school).

Before moving to Atterdag College, the school was temporarily located in a two-story building on present-day Alisal Road near Mission Santa Ines. The building, brand new in 1911, has been renovated and refurbished and since 1963 has been the home of the popular Bit O’Denmark Restaurant, now owned by the Sorensen family.

October Theme: Agriculture

Mission Santa Ines and the nearby “mission mills” were honored Wednesday, Oct. 19, as the next stop on Solvang’s Heritage Trail walking tour.

Mission Santa Inés, founded in 1804 by Spanish missionaries, was the center of a highly successful agriculture community with plentiful harvests and livestock numbering in the thousands.

In the 1820s, the mission added a grist mill for processing corn and wheat, and a fulling mill for cleaning and processing wool cloth.

Both the mission and the nearby mills, now under separate ownership and being restored for a new state historical park, will be honored at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in a ceremony at the mission.

Harvest and agriculture are the theme for October chosen by the Solvang Centennial Committee.

Development of the Solvang Heritage Trail is being coordinated by the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art and the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation will also receive certificates for their contributions in preserving the area’s heritage.

The historic trust has been instrumental in purchasing and preserving the mills property, which it sold to the state Parks Department as part of a deal that makes the trust responsible for developing the land and buildings into a state historical park.

November Theme:


More Centennial events