Ebenezer Lutheran Church, our host for this first West Andersonville House Tour, began as a mission of the Immanuel Lutheran Church (at Sedgwick and Hobe) in 1890 to serve the Summerdale/Edgewater area. Assisted by Rev. C.A. Evald and friends from a women’s sewing circle, eventually known as the Dorcas Society, Ebenezer was officially chartered in 1892. The name “Ebenezer” means “Thus the Lord has helped us.”
Ebenezer first occupied a storefront building, now located on Summerdale, which is a home to be shown on our tour. Among the founding families - 17 adults and 16 children - were the J.A. Anderson, J. Bengtson, C.F. Lundshan, A.W. Magnuson, S.D. Olson, J.F. Walgren, J. Johnson, A.P. Blomgren and F.J. Nelson families. In 1893, Ebenezer’s first pastor, Rev. C.F. Kydholm, was called but he stayed only a few months. In 1895, Rev. Old Strand came to lead the congregation. By the end of that year, Ebenezer began building a church on lots provided by J. Bengtson at Berwyn and Ravenswood. The new church cost $619 to build and was 48’ x 22’ and 16’ high. Pastor Strand retired due to illness and died in October of 1896.
The third pastor, Rev. T.O. Linnell, lead the group for three years. In 1897, under his leadership, the church building was moved from Berwyn to Winnemac, where it was placed on a new foundation. After a brief service of Pastor Rydberg, a young pastor, Theodore S. Johnson was called to Ebenezer in April of 1902. During his term as pastor, the church grew and became more established. In 1904, it purchased two lots at Paulina and Foster and planned the construction of the “Swedish Cathedral.” It was designed by member Andrew Norman and the cornerstone was laid on July 24, 1904. The building process took eight years and it was dedicated in 1912. Pastor Johnson continued at the church until 1915. The congregation continued to pay for the construction and a new pipe organ until 1921.
By 1928, the Parish house was constructed after $150,000 was raised. Andrew Norman was the architect. The previous parsonage, a large wooden home, was razed and construction began. The 1929 stock market crash and bank failures effected the final amount of funds raised but, fortunately, Ebenezer was able to renegotiate its loans and complete the building.
The design of the church is American Gothic with a symmetrical façade and large bell-tower. The stone is limestone. The interior is a wide open space with Gothic decoration including the subdivision of the central arched space into three arches across the altar area. The church interior has been refurbished recently to show the beauty of the large open space.