Friends of Cordelia

The Cordelia Congregation stopped holding regular services in 1918. The church has been rescued many times by the Swedish Lutheran community and other Friends of Cordelia. In 1938 the church was sold for $75 for destruction, but members of the First Lutheran in Moscow (Victor Ramstedt, C.B. Green, Frank Gustafson, Gust Anderson and others) saved the church and funded needed repairs.

Mrs Frances Olson Graham VonThadden

A complete restoration was funded in 1941 by the daughter of Andrew S. Olson, Mrs. Frances Olson Graham. Andrew donated the original one-acre building site in 1883. During the 1941 restoration two pews were added where the stove should have been, all four windows were replaced and shutters added to protect the windows, the lower half of the siding on the west side was replaced, the interior was repainted and the wallpaper was repaired. Documentation of the restoration does not mention the his and hers pit toilets behind the church, but the hinges and signs in English are consistent with 1940-era carpentry. The cemetery stones were set upright. The restoration was completed in 1948. Care for the church fell on members of First Lutheran Church in Moscow, Idaho

Care for the church shifted from First Lutheran to Troy Lutheran in about 1960. Members of Troy Lutheran replaced the roof and painted the church. Sometime in the 70's the metal rod was added to the church for more wall support and to reduce the impact of the settling foundation. The church was regularly cleaned by members of Troy Lutheran Church who also held picnics at the church. In 1979, members of Troy Lutheran Church noticed the church was not really built on the one acre given by Olson. The small land swap happened in 1982 to prevent the need to move the church 20 feet to the east. In the late 1980's there was another attempt to purchase and move the church to Elk River.

Michael Houser

Michael Houser, a student at the University of Idaho, came to the church’s rescue with a senior project about the historic church (Cordelia Lutheran Church, A case study for historic preservation). Michael was instrumental in transferring the deed for Cordelia from ELCA Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. In 1992, the stone footings to the building were replaced with concrete pilings and the lower half of the west side was resided. The outside of the church was painted. Michael’s project stimulated the formation of Friends of Cordelia and a trust fund was established for restoration and maintenance.

Stone Footings replaced with Concrete Pilings in 1992

Crew working on footings. Pictured Duane LeTourneau, Doug Pals?, Rudy Olsen, and Larry Lass

Beverly Walker Innocenti

Mrs. Beverly Innocenti came to the latest rescue of the Cordelia Church in 1993. Beverly provided funds to purchase 35 acres (south and west) of the church (currently farm ground) and provided seed funds for a building and well. Her vision for the property involved adult education and recreation facilities.

In 1994, Friends of Cordelia and Emmanuel Lutheran signed a management agreement. Friends of Cordelia has authority over the following items:

  1. All restoration, maintenance and rental/use of the Cordelia Lutheran Church.

  2. Administering rental of the 35 acres farm ground including property taxes.

  3. Use, without congregational or council approval of funds donated to Friends of Cordelia, the income on the 35 acre parcel and from the rental/use of Cordelia Lutheran Church as long as those funds are used to enhance Cordelia Lutheran Church or preserve its history.

  4. Converse with Beverly Innocenti over development of modest facilities at Cordelia and be consulted concerning any future development of the 35 acres not initiated by Friends of Cordelia. Accounting for such funds in Emmanuel's annual report or at any request of the church council, would be provided.

Steps to the church were added in 1994 and the roof was replaced.

New roof on west side

New roof on east side

The well to the west of the Church was drilled in 1995, but was found insufficient (5 gallon/ minute) for a major building project.

In 1996, the trusts (cross supports) in the roof were strengthened with more cross braces to prevent further sagging of the roof and bowing of the walls.

Picture of Tom Brandt working on bracing rafters.

The organ was busted up by vandals in 1997 and was reassembled. Also in 1997, a fire in the church damaged a bible and small wooden stand on the pulpit.

In 2001, the west side of the church was again repainted and glass was replace in the southwest window.

In the spring of 2002, Alben Person’s tomb stone reappeared. The stone was present for the August 2000 Cemetery Census, but gone in 2001.

In 2002, a guest registry was added to the church for visitors to sign, and this information pamphlet was published to help visitors understand the history of the church. Picnic tables were also added, buildings painted, and graves tended.

Preparing to paint in 2002

Niklaas Dumroese showing his scraping technique.

Steve Fountain in Road Grader.

In 2003, the inside window and door frames were repainted and headstone for Charles was reset on the pedestal. In 2004, a parking lot was added.


Friends of Cordelia Lutheran Church Inc officially Incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) organization on January 24, 2007 and granted tax exempt status on November 3, 2007.

In 2007, the shutter on the southwest window was modified to prevent birds from nesting in the window. A functional pump organ was donated to Cordelia on April 7, 2007 by John Elwood and Sally Burkhart. The organ was built by Clough and Warren Company of Detroit Michigan in about 1883. The disassembled organ was found in the basement of a Goodwill Store near Bellingham, Washington by their son who restored the instrument. The organ dedication concert was held on September 23, 2007.

In 2008, the church was painted and a hand pump was added to the well. Thank you to Neil Martin, Michael Riley, Jack Kelley, Dave Mundy, Doug Pals, Jerry Swensen Tom Stroschein, and Larry Lass

In 2009, the wallpaper was replaced with reproduction paper matching the same color and pattern of 1883 church.

Special thank you to Nancy Ruth Peterson, Linda Edwards, Steve Fountain, Neil Martin, Loreca Stauber, Cam Johnston, Carol Lass, and Larry Lass for their long hours working on the wall paper project. Thank you to Wil Smiley for hanging the paper and the high quality of workmanship on the project.

A Northern Flicker pecked 23 holes in the west and south side of the church in the spring of 2012. New siding was made to match original ship lap siding and installed. Additional bird drumming boxes were added in an attempt to focus the flicker on the box instead of the siding.

An updated MOU defining Cordelia Church and properties as a Lutheran Heritage Site was signed by Emmanuel Lutheran and Friends of Cordelia on June 9, 2013. The MOU defined the roles of Friends of Cordelia and Emmanuel Lutheran, Moscow, ID.

In the fall of 2014, the south and west sides of the church were re-painted.

The rotten wood found in the front entryway was replaced in 2015.

The floor of the outhouse was replaced in 2017.

In 2018, Emmanuel Lutheran agreed to sell Cordelia and land gifted to Cordelia to Friends of Cordelia. We were excited it was unanimous and without discussion. The sale price for Cordelia was $90,000. Funds for purchase came from interest and dividends on investments and farm income. It was a clean break from Emmanuel. The purchase insured gifts given for preservation of Cordelia would remain at Cordelia.

Friday April 20, 2018, Friends of Cordelia officially purchased historic Cordelia and associated land. In 2019, Friends of Cordelia strengthened our partnership with Latah County Historical Society and designated them as our successor organization.

Carol and Larry Lass receiving Esto Perpetua Award from Teresa Little with Earl Bennet watching.

Friends of Cordelia was selected for the 2019 class of Esto Perpetua Award winners, presented by the Idaho State Historical Society for “people and organizations who have preserved and promoted Idaho’s history through professional accomplishments, public service or volunteerism, and philanthropy.

In the fall of 2020 the west side and step were scraped and prepped for painting. Areas where paint has been scraped offed on the west side of church was painted in September. Rotten wood found on the steps was replaced and painted in October.

Repaired and painted steps. (October 1, 2020)

Join Friends of Cordelia by becoming a member. A newsletter is published in the spring and fall with articles focused on church history, activities and upcoming restoration events. We meet four times a year (third week of January; Saturday before Easter; third weekend in May; and second week in October). Contact us for exact times and locations.

We are always looking for historic photos of Cordelia and people involved with Cordelia.