Norwegian Language Blog

Norway in Houston Posted by on Mar 4, 2009 in Culture, Norway and the world

I was in Houston, TX over the weekend to visit my brother.  We didn’t do any of the touristy things because it was more important to me to just hang out.  My brother works for a construction company that follows storms and then contracts roofing work out.  One of the homeowners that he built a roof for was Norwegian.  I happened to be along for the ride when we stopped at this man’s house.  I never found out what line of work he was in, but it got me wondering about what kind of Norwegian culture is in Houston, TX.

I did a little research and found out that there are actually about 5,000 Norwegians living in the Houston area.  There has been a consulate general (kind of a branch of the Norwegian Embassy) in Houston since 1977, before which it was in New Orleans.  A Norwegian named Lasse Sigurd Seim is Consul General of Norway in Houston.  As many of you know, one of the primary missions of embassies and consulates is to facilitate commerce between the home country and the country in which the facility resides.  In Houston and the surrounding suburbs there are about 100 Norwegian firms, most of which are in the petroleum and maritime industry (not surprisingly!).

At the Consulate resides the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce-Southwest chapter.  This chapter was formed in 1973.  The majority of the Norwegian and American companies that comprise the organization are from the following industries: shipping and transportation, offshore engineering, oil and gas exploration and production, electronics and electrical equipment, information technology, banking, financial consulting, accounting, and law (from 

In addition to a church, Chamber of Commerce, and Consulate general, there is an organization that just Norwegian-Americans organized-the Norwegian Society of Texas.  Many of you may know about the Norwegian-American organization called Sons of Norway that has ‘lodges’ all over the US.  The NST is completely separate from this organization.  The Norwegian Society of Texas was established in 1975 and has 8 local chapters around Texas.  The mission is to ‘enjoy, preserve, and promote’ Norwegian heritage. 

As in most Norwegian towns along the coast, there is a sjømannskirke (Seamen’s church) in a suburb of Houston called Pasadena.  Like all traditional sjømannskirker, the church gets lots of visitors from Norwegian sjømenn (seamen) that travel the waters around the Houston area.  The church receives packages from Norway every week.  I’m sure they contain lots of Norwegian goodies including brunost!  Norwegian school is offered at the church for the little ones and services are in Norwegian.  I attended a sjømannskirke once when I lived in Oslo.  They are neat places.  Unfortunately, the church in Houston was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike-the reason my brother is there in the first place…

Norwegian immigration to Texas began in 1845 with a man named Johan Reinert Reierson who founded the Norwegian settlement of Normandy in 1845 and Prairieville in 1847.  Both settlements are SE of Dallas.

Now that I know all of this about Norwegian culture in Texas, I wish I would have been more proactive and experienced some of it.  There is always a next time.  Texas is huge and I only saw Houston, so I imagine I’ll be back before long. 


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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!