Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ryssby Church

Ryssby Church is located in unincorporated Boulder County between Longmont and Niwot, CO. It sits on N. 63rd St., just south of Nelson Rd. The church was declared a Historical Site by the State Historical Society of Colorado, and was designated a National Historic Site in 1984.

Ryssby Church, est. 1882.
In 1862 a large number of Swedes left their home village of Ryssby and settled in the Boulder Valley. The primary reason for their move was the Homestead Act, a collection of three federal laws that were signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. The Homestead Act gave free, undeveloped farm land to any applicant who was willing to establish a "homestead" on what was then federally owned land west of the Mississippi. The only requirements were the filing of an application, and that the land owner be over 21, tat they had not taken up arms against the lawful government of the United States, and that they remain resident for five years and show evidence of having improved the land. These plots, typically around 160 acres, was an expression of the "Free Soil" policy of the Democratic Party of the time. The goal was to empower individual land owners with land and resources and thus stem the development of slave ownership and plantation culture in the western half of the United States.

This community of settlers quickly established a community life that mirrored what they had left behind in Ryssby, Sweden. During the first years of the community the only framed building in the area, the home of Sven J. Johnson, was used as a church, community center, and schoolhouse. In 1875 a separate schoolhouse was built and church services moved to the new building. In 1877 the Rev. Frederick Lagerman arrived in the community and organized the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Ryssby, Boulder County Colorado. On October 31st, 1881, the cornerstone of the new community church was laid.

The newly constructed church, built on donated land and constructed of sandstone cut from a local quarry and donated by a church member, was designed to reflect the church that the settlers had left behind in their hometown of Ryssby. The church was officially dedicated in 1882 and began serving the spiritual needs of the community shortly thereafter.

Over the next 20 years the Ryssby community continued to prosper and, over time, many of the original settlers left the area to settle on larger and more productive farms closer to Longmont. In 1914 the Elim Congregation invited the Ryssby Congregation to join with them, and the Ryssby church, deprived of a local community, was left empty. The church was effectively abandoned until 1924 when a pastor of the Elim Congregation undertook to begin offering Midsummer and Christmas services in the historic building, a tradition which continues today.

Getting There By Bike...
The church is located on 63rd St., north of Boulder and immediately west of Niwot.  The most straight forward way to get there would be to take 61st St. north from Valmont and continue on that street as it becomes 63rd. If a shorter ride is needed you can park in Niwot and follow Niwot Rd. west to 63rd. Make a right and head north for approximately two and a half miles. The church is on the right as you are headed north.

1 comment:

  1. The Rysby church is passed by hundreds of cyclists every week and 63rd street is one of the most frequently used roads for Boulder area special cycling events. In the 70s and early 80s the Boulder Velo Club sponsored a weeknight Time Trial series that used 63rd, 73rd, Nelson Rd and Monarch Rds. This popular 12 mile race series was shut down by the Boulder County Sheriff when a Cat 2 rider was hit by a car at the intersection of Niwot Rd and 63rd, and it was discovered that the BVC had no race permit. "Permit - we don't need no stinking permit!"