(May 2021) As I was driving towards Fevik this past week, I came across a wonderful Swiss-Empire style church located on the outer limits of the village of Nedenes. The Engene kirke (church) appears firmly planted in the farmland of what is now the Arendal municipality, but upon investigation one finds it took the church some time to take root at this exact spot.
The original 1849 structure was suitably called the Grimstad Kirke because of its location on a hill with views of the harbor in the town of Grimstad. Grimstad quickly outgrew the small church, so the original structure was dismantled and moved to its current location - a distance of approximately no 13 km. In 1881, the booming town of Grimstad went on to build a new larger church fittingly also called the Grimstad Kirke which still stands today.
The original plans for the now Engene kirke had been drawn up by the Norwegian architect Wilhelm Hanstein not to be confused with the German chess player/writer of the same name. Hanstein’s professional headquarters had been in Drammen: a town where a handful of his buildings including Svelvik kirke (church) and the Konnerud gamel kirke (old church) still stand. Interesting to note that Hanstein spent time in Trondheim after the 1842 fire helping to restore the famed cathedral and additionally made drawings for the cathedral in Bergen, but his legacy will be mainly remembered for his small white wooden churches scattered throughout that south of Norway.