[Jenny Lind Chapel - Pioneer Church at Andover

Jenny Lind Chapel
Pioneer Church at Andover

Pamphlet by Erwin Weber
Augustana College Library, Rock Island, Illinois 1975

Jenny Lind Chapel was my first booklet at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. It was published in 1975 by the Augustana College Library. At that time I expressed special thanks to Dr. Conrad Bergendoff, president emeritus of Augustana College, and Ernest Espelie, editor of the Augustana Library Publication. In addition, I received valuable aid and assistance from the Augustana College Library, the Augustana Campus Church, the Augustana Lutheran Church at Andover, the Henry County Office of Deeds, the Cambridge Chronicle, the Quad City Times, and the Andover Historical Society.

On March 18, 1975, a year-long celebration in observance of the founding of the "Mother Church" of the Augustana Synod - the Jenny Lind Chapel - was launched. The church was organized in Andover under the leadership of the Reverend Lars Paul Esbjörn on March March 18, 1850. Ten charter members, including the Reverend and Mrs. Lars Paul Esbjörn, placed their names on a slip of paper in Esbjörn's home, and five days later, another thirty-one names were added to the charter roll of the church.

Although work on the chapel was started in 1851, the structure was not completed until 1854, a cholera epidemic having delayed the work for two years. For many years, the chapel was used for social gatherings only, but on June 13, 1948, after remodeling, it was dedicated as a shrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod. The following day, a plaque was unveiled by Prince Bertil which reads in part, "Chapel and adjoining old cemetery were dedicated as a synodical shrine at special Centennial services, Sunday, June 13, 1948." The state of Illinois has also affixed a plaque to the front of the chapel designating the structure as an historical site and it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, visitors are able to view an appropriate historical display in the basement of the chapel, which in the early days served as a hospital and immigrant home for those who came to Andover. It is hoped that the chapel with its museum will serve as a reminder and monument to the industry, frugality, and perseverance of its builders and their faith in God.

Erwin Weber

May, 1997