The Edgewater Baptist Church was built in 1910 in what was called the Edgewater District of Chicago. The group began with a Sunday School in a rented hall at 5455 N. Clark in 1906. In 1909, the Edgewater Swedish Baptist Church was organized with 34 members. Originally, a Congregational Church on Rosehill Drive was rented for local services. However, by December 11, the enterprising people of this new spiritual venture dedicated their own sanctuary of property which had been purchased at the corner of Glenwood and Hollywood Avenues. At the time of the dedication, the membership had grown to 51.
The original parsonage was a 50 year old building which was cut in half and moved in sections from Berwyn and Glenwood. This was done in 1921. It housed the pastors and served as the Sunday School Annex until its demolition in 1952.
The church published a newspaper called the Edgewater Herald, which was in Swedish in the early years. The fact that the church began to minister to peoples of all national backgrounds led to the dropping of the word “Swedish” from the Church name in 1941.
The Music Department of the church was very active over the years with choirs and a band. The band was organized through the efforts of Henry Carlson and Hank Fabian. They sought out other musicians from the Salvation Army - among them were Stan Lindberg, Everette Kalman and Art Sundquist. The first rehearsals were held in an apartment at 1772 W. Olive. The brass instruments they played included trumpet, euphonium, trombones, various saxophones and drums. One Sunday morning, they all came to church to find that Henry Carlson had ripped out rows of seats on the right hand side of the sanctuary to create a bandstand.
This active church has had many ministries and activities. There was always a youth ministry and participation by young people in the choir and other activities. Stan Carlson was the choir director for years. In 1976, the senior organization, the Hilltoppers, was founded.
But even back in the 1930s, this church worked with other churches to hold tent meetings at Ashland and Foster and later at Catalpa, Ashland and Gregory, where the Jewel Food Store stands now. This was the site of the Mann family farm and greenhouses.
The sanctuary was further remodeled in the 1950s, with a design from Elof Lundstrom. What is in place today is further improvement of that design. In 1954, the modern Bible School Building and Youth Center was erected at a cost of over $100,000.
The current pastor, James Shedd, and his wife Jan, have been leaders of this congregation since 1989. Jim was ordained in 1990. The many activities of the church members are too numerous to list. In 1999, the church celebrated 90 years with a production of a book of oral history interviews. This was called “So Far By Faith” and was coordinated by Dorothy Dahlman. We thank the members of Edgewater Baptist Church who have made so many contributions to the history of our community and have hosted our tour today.