A One-Room Church Building

First One-Room Building

1844 - One-room church building, constructed by the men of the congregation, is completed in February.

In 1843, Mayor William Ogden and his friend Walter Newberry donated a piece of land to the new German American congregation, with the stipulation that construction of a church building must begin immediately. The land was at the Southwest corner of LaSalle and Ohio streets.

Thomas R. Henry writes:

By the time the congregation received this promised land, Chicago was heading into winter. It seemed foolish to begin building. However, they did not want to lose the land, and so they built their church. The land had to be cleared, and the lumber had to be carried from the lumberyard, located just east of the Jackson Street bridge. It was carried on the shoulders of the men of the congregation along a footpath, a distance equal to 12 city blocks, to the edge of the river. Then it was ferried across and carried again for five more blocks to the building site. We can only imagine how hard the work was or how the site looked. Mud was nearly knee-deep in places and could be appreciated only by the pigs that had been recently banned from the Chicago Streets south of the river. The only other public building near the new church was a grocery store at Clark and Ohio streets. By February 1844, the St. Pauls congregation had a building. It was a one-room structure with a few rough nine-inch wide benches as pews. Its lectern, altar and pews were all hand-built by the craftsmen in the congregation. In the center of the sanctuary was a coal stove. At the dedication service, a brand-new Heilege Schrift (German Bible) was placed on the altar and a picture of Jesus hung on the wall above it. There also appeared, from an unknown contributor, one old German hymnal just like those the congregation had sung from in their native land.

Thomas R. Henry, Making a Joyful Sound in the City, The History of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois.