Solvang Centennial

1911 - 2011

Historical Photos of Solvang

Solvang Centennial Committee Members: Esther Jacobsen Bates, Elverhoj Museum of History & Art; Curt Cragg; Tracy Farhad, Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau; Dr. Kenneth Harwood; Linda Jackson, Solvang Chamber of Commerce; Linda Johansen, King Frederik Inn; Lisa Grosshart Lonell, Solvang School; Kathy Mullins, Hans Christian Andersen Museum; Erik Pedersen, Rebild Society /Danish Brotherhood;
Aaron Petersen; David Rasmussen; Ed Skytt, former Solvang City Council Member; Rev. Jarmo Tarkki, Bethania
Lutheran Church
; Brad Vidro, Solvang City Manager and Marie Jaeger, Danish Sisterhood.

History of Solvang, California

Historical Photos of Solvang

Solvang, founded in 1911, began as a dream of three Danish immigrants, who were educators and pastors. They planned to raise money to buy a large tract of land on the West Coast  and subdivide it into plots for farms, homes, and a town. Profits from the sale of land would be used for building a folk school.

In January, 1911 the Danish-American Colony corporation bought almost 10,000 acres of prime land in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. The new colony was named “Solvang” (sunny field) and glowing advertisements were placed in Danish-language newspapers. Early buyers, almost all Danish, came from California, the Midwest, and Denmark. Three men were instrumental in founding the new Danish colony of Solvang in 1911: The Reverend Benedict Nordentoft, Reverend Jens M. Gregersen, and Peder Pedersen Hornsyld.

True to its founders’ plan, Solvang built a folk school in 1911. Designed for young adults as a “school for life,” it offered a broad range of courses, from Danish arts and crafts, singing, folk dancing, and gymnastics, to bookkeeping, history, English and Danish language classes, and more. In 1914, the folk school moved to its new home, an imposing white structure on a hill overlooking the town, and took a new name, Atterdag College. For years Atterdag was the heart and soul of Solvang. It was used as a folk school, a community meeting hall, a performing arts venue, a gymnastics center, a summer school, and a boarding house.

Elverhoj Museum in Solvang, CAFor more information about the History of Solvang, visit the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art. in Danish