1897 – Back in the days before the local use of cars, trucks and chainsaws the people meeting in homes for their church services decided they would build a church for their worship. Most of these worshipers were of Swedish descent. Thus, the Swedish Mission Society began with a half-acre of land. Cutting trees with cross-cut saws, hauling the cut trees to a sawmill by horse and wagon and yet again hauling to the building site on Pepin Hill they built their church. The visiting Pastor worked alongside the worshipers sharing their vision of this building. The intent was to share the Word of God with all who entered the doors, and the Word changed many souls. The building was one room similar to what is portrayed on Little House on the Prairie TV series. In fact, Laura Ingalls was born in rural Pepin (there is a replica log cabin at the site she was born, County Rd CC).
At some point this Church became a part of the Evangelical Free Church and the name was changed to the Pepin Hill Evangelical Free Church. Another half-acre of land was purchased form Howard and Sandy Larson. In the early 1960’s the congregation met and decided to expand the building by adding a basement to it. To raise funds to pay for the basement the local farmers attending the church offered to share some of their crop profits on a designated field to pay for it. The Lord blessed the crops and a basement was built …… the building was moved upon the basement. Chemical toilets were installed and that is the first that the outhouse was no longer needed. Later, a well was drilled and a septic system installed providing regular toilets and running water for the little kitchen in the basement.
In the early 1990’s a donation that had been given the Pepin Hill church was used as a starter for another addition. Letters were sent to all the former attendees of the Pepin Hill church seeking donations, along with the current attendees. The Dorwins’, formerchurch members and distributors of Wisconsin Homes, made a generous offer to sell the addition to the church at cost and no Dorwin labor for setting the building. You will now see this as the area with the nice kitchen, handicap accessible bath, dining area and the basement under it.
2017 – As attendance continued to decline at Pepin Hill the very hard decision was made to close the church. No longer a farming community with large families, the young people went in all directions to find their jobs. As in all walks of life, the elderly were no longer around or able to attend. All that had attended Pepin Hill over the years were asked back one more time, this time to formally reminisce and say goodbye. Approximately 120 were in attendance with a wonderful meal following the final service. The oldest attendee, Lila Manor (93 years of age) went to Pepin Hill as a child. She is my mother (Pat Wodele, owner of this event center)
2018 – The basement finished, patio, flag sails, composite deck & rail and pergola were added. The church building closed its doors but the Church lives on through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Memories – *When one room, a table sat in the back corner with a hot plate used to make coffee. Coffee was made in a large, granite coffee pot with boiling water and an egg stirred into the grounds to clarify the coffee. Also, the ‘Stage’ area had a curtain to pull across to help divide Sunday School Classes with the others grouping chairs and teachers competing for their student’s attention.
- Kids going outdoors and playing in the yard while the adults visited inside, Captain May I, Red Red Rover, tag and hide and seek were some of the games played.
- Sunday School classes moving to the ‘new’ basement’ with bedsheets on wires to divide the ‘rooms’.
- Some families picked up children from other homes to bring them to Sunday school and church. They would not have had the opportunity to attend a church otherwise.
- Christmas programs and plays being performed on the stage. Often the area churches would try to attend one another’s programs.
- Sunday night services and services with ‘Guest Speakers’ that would fill the entire building.
- Life long friendships both young and old.
- Heating went from wood stove, oil burner and finally a furnace as years passed by. Now also, central air.
- And through it all, there’ lunch is served’!