408 High St




Magnus and Louise Rohne/O. J. H. and Magdalene Preus


408 High St Decorah, IA 52101

Year Built


Architectural Style

English Cottage Tudor Revival

J. Magnus Rohne (LC ‘17) was a faculty member from 1923-32 and also served as college Registrar during at least some of that time. His book Norwegian-American Lutheranism Up to 1872 (Macmillan, 1926) is described by college historian David Nelson as “a pioneer treatment of this subject in English” and “a very useful work.” A 1927 newspaper article credits “Hanson and Altfillisch” with what is called an “English Cottage” residence. At approximately the same time, Altfillisch designed a number of other Decorah houses that he called “English Cottage.” Jan Full identifies the house as Tudor Revival because of its steep roofs, its prominent central oriel window, the small round-topped windows, and the catslide entrance and roof design.

Luther College professor emeritus Wilfred Bunge passed on a story that explains the unusual design that seems to give the house two front doors. Evidently Rohne’s wife Louise had tired of greeting at their front door the many students coming to see the Registrar about various college matters. She therefore insisted that their new house have a separate entrance–the door to the building’s far left–that went directly into Rohne’s office.

The Decorah Journal reported that on Feb. 7, 1928, the Luther College faculty had a house warming party at the Rohne’s house and presented them with “a beautiful chair.” After Rohne left Luther in 1932, the college purchased the house for its new president, O. J. H. Preus, who lived there through his retirement as president in 1948 and until his death in 1951. Preus’s widow Magdalene Preus continued to live in the house until around 1970, taking in student and faculty boarders, including Weston Noble. Since that time, the house has typically been used as housing for Luther staff or visiting staff.

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