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Red Wing Seminary

Red Wing, Minnesota



I came to Red Wing from Columbia, MO.  Once I left I-35 at Owatonna, my Tom Tom send me cross country on four state roads and four county roads to Red Wing.   I made the obligatory purchase of a Red Wing stoneware crock before heading to the Goodhue County History Museum.  Material on the school soon began arriving at my table—each piece more valuable than its predecessor.  The 1926 Lahodewaan, the school yearbook, topped the list.


Red Wing Seminary was created by the Hauge Synod of the Lutheran Church to meet the need for trained ministers.  Founded in 1879 it was the first effort by Norwegian Americans to establish a church school.


Initially it educated only males in an academy and the seminary, graduating between 2-10 from the seminary and 15-20 from the academy on a yearly basis.  A junior college established in 1904 became a four-year college in 1910.  The school became co-educational in 1914.


In the Union of 1917, three Lutheran synods—each with a seminary—merged.  Red Wing Seminary became a part of Luther Seminary  in St. Paul.


Under the auspice of the American Lutheran Church, the old Red Wing seminary continued as a normal school, a bible school, a music school, a dramatic arts school, a commercial school and a junior college until 1932.


The Lahodewaan shows a small student body of 16 Sophomores and 19 Freshmen in the college with 23 Seniors, 15 Juniors, 14 Sophomores and 14 Freshmen in the Academy.  In addition, there were four commercial students.


Even with small numbers, Red Wing offered numerous activities.  There were two literary societies—one college and one academy—for men and a matching pair for women.  In addition to a Bible and Mission Society, the school also sponsored an Edda Society and a Cadman Society for the study of Lutheran literature and music respectively.  Strong in music, the school had a chorus, a girl’s glee club and an orchestra.  Out of the  Debate and Oratory Society came a debate team that participated in the Inter-Academy Conference.


In 1932 the college was merged with St. Olaf College at Northfield, MN.

Main Building, (Edward H. Lidberg, accessed 1-30-2017

Bricks and Mortar

Red Wing Seminary occupied College Hill on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.  History of Goodhue County notes that this is the “most picturesque natural scenery of any school in the Northwest.”  The original building, referred to as “Old Building” was purchased from the Red Wing Collegiate Institute.  When the enrollment outgrew “Old Building” the school bought and completed Summer Hall in 1892. 


In 1904 Red Wing Seminary completed the signature building called Main Building.  The two older buildings became dormitories. 


None of the buildings remain.


            Colors: Red and Gold

            Teamname: Seminarians


Red Wing Seminary fielded sports teams during the 1920’s.  The 1926 Lahodewaan notes that “football has been a popular game at the Seminary for the past few years.”  The team that year played two games—both losses—to their alumni and to Red Wing High School.  The 1928 team played mostly a high school schedule, losing to powerful Shattuck School 69-0 and also to the Shattuck Seconds 14-0.  Both the 1929 and 1930 teams played and lost to Luther Seminary of St. Paul.


Despite low numbers, the 1929 and 1930 teams played against state normal schools at Winona and St. Cloud, losing 30-0 to the former and 63-0 to the latter.


Red Wing Seminary also fielded both men’s and women’s basketball teams.  The 1925-26 team won seven of eight games played, the opposition being high school and independent teams.



1925-26 Red Wing Seminary sports teams.  (Lahodewaan, Courtesy of Goodhue County History Museum)

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