The Thams Pavilion – history

May 1892 – The Norwegian Government decided to participate in The 1893 World`s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in order to present Norway and Norwegian products.

July 1892 The Norway Building

In order to present the best of Norwegian architecture and crafts, the Norwegian Committee decided that The Norway Building should be modeled like the style of the traditional stave churches of Norway. Architect Waldemar Hansteen, who was familiar with this architecture, was assigned to draw the building.

November 1892 – The company M. Thams & Co is contracted to produce the building

The company`s production unit Strandheim Brug at Orkanger was one of the first factories specializing in prefab housing, and within three months the prefabricated building kit was produced. Price NOK 6000. The director at the modern Strandheim Brug plant with 300 workers was 25 years old Christian Thams, architect, entrepreneur and internationalist. He had experience from The 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, where he also delivered buildings.

May – October 1893 – The World`s Columbian Exposition

The Norway Building was one of about 150 buildings at the Chicago World`s Fair, which was visited by 27 million people. Christian Thams attends the fair and could see the breakthrough developments in hydropower and electrical machines at first hand.

17th of May 1893 – Norway`s day in Chicago

Norway was honored by the exhibition management and the city of Chicago by dedicating 17th of May, Norway`s Independence Day, to Norway. It was celebrated in the Norwegian tradition with Norwegian flags, costumes and treats. A parade started 10 a.m. at Scandia Hall on Milwaukee Avenue and Ohio Street, and marched through the streets of Chicago to the exhibition area. Thousands of people Norwegian descent went by The Norway Building and 7000 gathered in The Festival Hall.

1893 to 1934 – In private ownership

After the fair, most of the buildings were auctioned off. The Norway Building was bought by billionaire C. K. G. Billings for USD 1500, and moved to his estate at Lake Geneva, 74 miles northwest of Chicago. The last owner in this location was chewing gum magnate William Wrigley. He used the building as a movie theatre.

1935 to 2015 – Centerpiece of attraction at the immigrant museum Little Norway

Isak Dahle, a successful Chicago businessman of Norwegian descent, bought The Norway Building and moved it 93 miles west to his property at Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Here he was in the process of establishing the open-air museum Little Norway, with buildings and artifacts from Norwegian immigrants to the USA. The two last kings of Norway, Olav and Harald, have both visited Little Norway while they were crown princes. By 2012 museum attendance had dwindled, and then present owner Scott Winner and family, decided to close it down and put the property up for sale. Total attendance during these years was 2 million.

November 2014 – Project Heimatt was established to buy, move and rebuild the Norway Building at Orkanger.

September 2015 – The Norway building returned home to Norway

In June, The Norway Building was purchased by the municipality of Orkdal, and during 4 weeks in September a workforce of 14 deconstructed the building and loaded it into three 40-ft containers. The dismantled building arrived at Orkanger in November and was renamed The Thams Pavilion.

March 2016 – April 2017 – The pavilion parts are restored, replaced and prepared for reerection. The roof, dragons and lower parts of the pavilion had some rot and needed replacement. Almost 50 people, mostly retirees, took part in this effort.

May 2017 – September 2017 – Re-erection of The Thams Pavilion

close to the town hall and Bårdshaug Herregård, the mansion of Christian Thams.

September 9, 2017 – Grand Opening of The Thams Pavilion, exactly 150 years after Christian Thams was born.