The path to founding Luther College began on October 10, 1857, when the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC) decided to create a college to supply
ministers for Norwegian congregations in the Upper Midwest. Until the
college was completed, students would study at Concordia
Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. On October 14, 1859 the Rev. Laur. A. Larsen was
appointed professor to the Norwegian students at Concordia by the NELC.Upon the closing of the seminary in April 1861, the NELC decided to open their own college that fall in an unused parsonage at
Halfway Creek, Wisconsin, just north of La Crosse, Wisconsin and close to present day Holmen, Wisconsin. On September 1, 1861, classes officially began with an enrollement of 16. The following year classes moved to
Decorah, Iowa, with NELC Pastor Ulrik Vilhelm (U.V.) Koren responsible
for arrainging this move.It didn't take long for Luther to build an exceptional music program. In 1905, Carlo A.
Sperati, an 1888 graduate of Luther, became the music director of the college and worked to
develop the Luther College Concert Band, which was originally founded in 1876. Under
Sperati, the band took many tours of Europe, their first in 1914 while earning
international acclaim for their musical talent. Sperati remained on the faculty until 1945.In 1932 Luther College dropped its mandatory study of the classics. The 1930s also
marked another milestone in the college's history, the decision to become coeducational, which happened in 1936 due primarily to financial reasons. During the 1960s Luther again experienced significant change with the
construction of several new buildings on campus and the adoption of a 4-1-4 semester schedule.