Just west of downtown Hartland on Capitol Drive, a church, surrounded by a cemetery, rests atop a hill. Founded in 1868, what was once St. Martin’s Church is known today as Lake Country Congregational Church.
In the 1870s, Wisconsin had the largest number of Danish residents of all states, with significant communities established in Racine and Hartland.
When St. Martin’s Church was formed, it had two congregations, one Danish and one German, each with its own pastors and own services held in the people’s native language.
In 1910, the Danish congregation purchased the German congregation’s half of the property and demolished the building. They constructed a new church, which was dedicated in 1911 and seen in this photo from 1921. The Germans built their own church, today known as Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, across the street.
Architect Nels Lund from Menomonee Falls designed and built the Danish church in the Gothic Revival style using concrete blocks. A 40-foot tower above the entrance was the most notable feature of the one-story building, which continued to preach half of its services in Danish until 1931.
Lake Country Congregational Church moved into the building in 1975, and vestiges of the building’s early history remain. Original stained-glass windows still line the sanctuary, and, above the main wooden doors, a carved panel reads “Dansk Evang. Luth. Kirke.” The Village of Hartland now owns and operates the cemetery.