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Prior to 1913, Mr. Gust Rosberg, a master tailor in Indianapolis, had tried to form a Swedish club, without success. For of his 65th birthday in 1913, he rented a hall and ran an ad in the local newspaper, inviting all the Swedes in Indianapolis to his birthday party.

Prior to 1913, Mr. Gust Rosberg, a master tailor in Indianapolis, had tried to form a Swedish club, without success. For of his 65th birthday in 1913, he rented a hall and ran an ad in the local newspaper, inviting all the Swedes in Indianapolis to his birthday party.

Around the same time, two members of the Vasa Order came to live in Indianapolis. Marcus Furstenberg and Oscar Zetterlof were both members of Skanson Lodge No. 99 of Waltham, Massachusetts They were interested in forming a Vasa Lodge in the Swedish community in Indianapolis. They attended Mr. Rosberg's birthday party, gave a presentation on the Vasa Order, and proposed a date for a meeting.

Founding - May 29, 1913

SVEA Lodge #253 was chartered on May 29, 1913 in Indianapolis. Lodge health benefits were significant to its early members, along with the social and fraternal support of the membership as a whole.

The 1920s saw a peak in membership and lodge activities. The lodge had few, if any, second-generation members (American-born.)

December 18, 1928

Gustav Roseberg, Cofounder of SVEA Lodge #253 dies.

The depression of the 1930s curtailed lodge growth, and along with social security and the introduction of employer-sponsored group health insurance plans, a decline in membership set in. The lodge continued with meetings in members homes, membership declining gradually.


At the Grand Lodge Convention, the name of the of the order was changed from Vasa Order of the United States to Vasa Order of America.


Lodge rituals officially changed from Swedish to English.

50th Anniversary - 1963

SVEA 253 celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1963. An anniversary dinner was held at the Sirloin Inn with 18 members and three guests attending.

By 1978, membership had declined to a dozen or less. It was then decided to affiliate with the International Center of Indianapolis and to use the news media to give the Lodge greater visibility to the Scandinavians of the community in order to attract new membership.

In 1981, Swan Swanson, Chairman of SVEA Lodge #253, became Master of the District, the first member of our lodge to achieve that office. By the end of 1982, membership had reached 104 members.

By the end of 1979, membership had increased to forty. The new members were anxious to share the Scandinavian heritage, willingly accepted office in the lodge, cooperated in the development of cultural programs, with emphasis on Scandinavian ethnic customs, foods, crafts, publications and Swedish language classes.

70th Anniversary - 1983

In 1983 the lodge hosted the District Annual Convention for the first time in our history, at the Indianapolis Airport Hilton. This was the celebration of the District's 75th Diamond Jubilee.

SVEA by-laws were revised to expand membership to Scandinavian descendants, spouses of members, and widows and widowers of persons of Scandinavia origin.


Active in the Nationalities Council of Indiana since 1980, SVEA was the Grand Prize Winner at the 1987 International Festival.

90th Anniversary - 2003

In 2003, our lodge celebrated its 90th anniversary with a banquet at the Fountains Banquet Center in Indianapolis.

On May 4, 2008, SVEA by-laws were updated and included the following as the last sentence in Article 3, Membership: “If the applicant does not have Nordic ancestry, then the applicant is committed to the promotion and advancement of Swedish and Nordic heritage and character.

The lodge transitioned to meeting at the Latvian Community Center in Indianapolis in 2008.


100th Anniversary - 2013

In 2013, our lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary at our annual Midsommar gathering in June at the Latvian Community Center in Indianapolis. Delicious smorgastortas were prepared by and served by Ulla Williams, Kristina Grasso, Karen Young, Eija Vesterqvist, and Faye Bevelhimer. Dessert was a Swedish strawberry cake. District Master, Bill Lundquist and wife Shelia attended. Entertainment was provided by Dans Norden and Skandilocity.

In October of 2019, member Jordan Ross represented the lodge in the Nationalities Council of Indiana's International Festival Queen competition.

Pandemic - 2020

In March of 2020, due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic, the lodge had to cancel all in-person meetings and holiday celebrations, including the District Convention. In August we regrouped and began holding virtual meetings. In December we pre-filmed a Lucia Processional and musical performances by members, which we played live to an audience of over 130 attendees from across the country and the globe on the virtual platform Zoom.


Our first official in-person gathering post-vaccines was our June 2021 Midsommar gathering. We continued to have in-person meetings throughout the fall, but after a resurgence of new variants, we decided to have another virtual Lucia in December to keep members safe.

We had our first in-person Lucia since 2019 in December of 2022.

110th Anniversary - 2023

On June 25, 2023, the lodge celebrated its 110th Anniversary at our annual Midsommar gathering. John Bevelhimer spoke about the history of the lodge and the connection to our first Midsommar celebration in June of 1913. We had a special "110" cake made to celebrate the occasion and around 100 people were in attendance.

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