Chicago Lutheran History: St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Montrose- 1875
In 1896, the Lutheran churches of Chicago published Geschichte der Gründung und Ausbreitung der zur Synode von Missouri, Ohio und Andern Staaten gehörenden Evangelisch-Lutherischen Gemeinden U. A. C. zu Chicago, Illinois, a history of their growth in the city beginning with First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, now located on LaSalle and Goethe streets in Chicago. As far as I know, there is no English translation, so I offer this to share the history with you. Follow me to get updates about the rest of this work.
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was once in the city of Jefferson, before the City of Chicago annexed the suburb in 1889. St. John’s school is one of the few remaining Lutheran schools after so many have closed. Their school building grew from the two basement classrooms in this article to a large building, complete with a gymnasium and a 3-D printing lab.
St. John’s neighborhood, Jefferson Park, reveals a trend unique to Chicago. City workers aren’t allowed to live outside the city limits, so many of them move to the far edges of the city to find more space and less expensive homes. City police, firefighters, and teachers raise their families there, so the population doesn’t church as quickly as it does in most other neighborhoods.
Evangelical Lutheran St. John Congregation (Jefferson)
In the summer of the year 1874, Pastor Adam Detzer, Sr, from Desplaines, Illinois, visited the Lutherans living in the town of Jefferson, and he served them with word and sacrament. In the spring of 1875, the Evangelical Lutheran St. John Congregation organized themselves with 11 members. On the 14th of October 1876, the first church was built on Montrose Boulevard near Milwaukee Avenue. It was a frame building 30 feet by 50 feet, with a tower and bells and a brick foundation in which the school and the pastor’s apartment were built. From that time on, the congregation was served by Pastor A. Reinke and the candidate F. Brunn.
On the 24th Sunday after Trinity, 1877, Candidate Brunn was installed as the pastor of the congregation. In December of 1881, the same followed a call to Straßburg, Illinois. Pastor Joh. Heyer, from Colehour, IL stepped into his office. He was installed on the first Sunday after Epiphany, 1882. In October 1886, he moved to Wheaton IL. Pastor Paul Lücke, from Merrill, WI, was installed as Pastor Heyer’s successor on the 21st Sunday after Trinity. In early summer 1887, a parsonage was erected and the school rooms under the church were enlarged.
Until Easter 1887, classes were taught by the pastors. In 1888 and 1889, the school was taught by students from the Addison teachers college. In February 1889, the second school class was erected, a female teacher was appointed and a male teacher was called for the first class.
In September of the same year, the congregation’s first teacher, candidate W. Battermann of Addison, was installed. Since, over the course of time, the church and school had become too small, the congregation felt it necessary to support an addition. A cross-shaped building, 40 by 60 feet, was added with the balcony of the old church, and they could furnish new school classrooms in the basement. On the 14th of September 1890, the dedication of the enlarged and renovated church occurred. The church cost $11,350.00. The whole congregational property was worth $16,350.00.
The teachers who lead the school are Teacher W. Battermann and the old, former teacher of St. John Congregation, Christian Lücke, who came to Jefferson from Troy, Illinois and was installed into his office in October 1892.
The current situation of the congregation is: 110 voting members and 600 communicant members. The two-classroom school is attended by 100 children.