Mount Angel Abbey

March 2000

In March of 2000, on an unusually sunny weekend, I headed down I-5 past Woodburn, and then on less-traveled roads to Mount Angel.

The area was first settled in 1852, but in 1881, a Swiss Benedictine named Friar Adelheim Odermatt began ministering in the area, as large numbers of German and Swiss immigrants began to arrive.  The Mount Angel Abbey was moved to nearby Lone Butte in 1884, and the city of Mount Angel was incorporated in 1893.  The monastery has been entirely rebuilt twice after two disastrous fires, one in 1892, the other in 1926.

The library, completed in 1970, was designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.  It is one of only two Aalto buildings in the United States, the other being the Baker Dormitory at MIT.  (A third work, the Finnish Pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, was dismantled.)  The library at Mount Angel was the last significant work of Aalto’s career, and he died six years later.  Like most of his buildings, the exterior is unassuming, but the interior is bathed in natural light.  Not that you can tell from the photographs I took but… oh well.  The library also contains one of the largest collections of Aalto furniture in North America.

June 2003

Made another trip to Mount Angel, with my friend Nate.  This time, we went inside the sanctuary.