We’re the first to admit that we don’t look like your typical museum – that’s why there’s one sign off the highway, one in town, and two at the front of our property, steering you in the right direction.
In fact, the easiest way to get you here, and which happens to be the way we do often give directions, is to tell you to find Kronau and then to find the church steeple. You could say that it’s steeped with history.
When Kronau’s first settlers came to the area, they largely organized themselves along religious lines: Catholic, or Lutheran. The Church had been an important part of their life before coming to North America, and it would continue to be afterward. This is why our church building, the former Bethlehem Lutheran Church, had a congregation before it even had a building. According to Pulpits of the Past: A record of Closed Lutheran Churches in Saskatchewan – Up to 2003, by Lois Knudson Munholland (which can be found at the museum), the congregation was formed in 1891 and the first minister, Heinrich Coelstin Schmieder, along with the others who followed him, led services in members’ homes. Later, these were held in the school.
In 1897, the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada appointed Kronau as a community for worship. During the winter of 1912, lumber was hauled from Vibank and soon construction of the church would begin. Later that year, on June 16th, the church was officially dedicated and boasted a congregation of eleven families. Until the middle of the century, the church remained relatively unchanged.
Then, on July 29th, 1950, the building was moved to Kronau. After an addition was built and the building was renovated, it was rededicated on October 15th.
Kronau Bethlehem Lutheran Church would remain active, although its congregation was slowly shrinking, for another four decades. In 1990, the church hosted its last service and six years later, on August 4th, a final service was conducted by Bishop A. Grundahl and Pastors A. Christianson and R. Hordern. Following the service, a meeting was held among the members of the congregation, who entrusted the building to the Kronau Bethlehem Heritage Society.
In 2003, the Kronau Heritage Museum Committee, a sub-committee of the Heritage Society, was established to create the framework for today’s museum. Two years later, on June 25th, 2005, Kronau Heritage Museum held its Grand Opening and has been in operation ever since.