On April 2, 1832, Springfield, Illinois was incorporated as a town. It was on September 19, 1841, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Springfield was organized in the home of Reverend Francis Springer on the southeast corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets. This home is directly across the street to the south of the Lincoln Home in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. During its first few years, the congregation met in various locations for its meetings. From 1851 until 1859, the parish worshiped in a church at Third and Washington Streets.
Reverend Francis Springer's House at the southeast corner of Eighth and Jackson streets.
The Old Church at the northwest corner of Sixth and Madison streets. Built between 1857 and 1859, the congregation had service here until December 30, 1892.
The Rev. Francis Springer, one of the first Lutheran ministers in Springfield, moved into the home in 1839. A few years later, an up and coming lawyer named Abraham Lincoln purchased a home across the street. Rev. Springer supported Mr. Lincoln’s successful campaign for President. President Lincoln wrote to Edward M. Stanton, his secretary of war, on April 13, 1863, “Francis Springer…is one of my best friends, and than whom there is no more reliable man”.
Rev. Springer was a teacher and provided instruction to Mr. Lincoln’s sons in their early education. A record book on display at Grace lists Abraham Lincoln’s name among donations for a new church building. On October 23, 1855, Mr. Lincoln pledged $20 for the construction of the first church building. Mr. Lincoln’s $20 in 1855 is worth $600 today.
Reverend Francis Springer
Church Ledger showing Abraham Lincoln's 20 dollar pledge for construction of the first church building.
In 1854, the English and German speaking members chose to organize into two separate congregations. At that time, the English speaking members became the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of the City of Springfield. Although it took four years, the first church building was constructed in 1859 at the corner of Sixth and Madison Streets. In 1891, the congregation adopted the name of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the cornerstone of the present church was laid a year later. On March 19, 1893, the congregation dedicated the new building on the corner of 7th and Capitol Streets.
Cornerstone of Grace Lutheran Church located in the northwest corner of the building at 7th and Capitol streets.
Earliest picture of the church taken back in 1903.
Updates to the current building began taking place in 1912, the church was re-frescoed, an oak floor was laid in the auditorium, and electric lights were installed. The parish education building was added to the original structure in 1926. The sanctuary, which originally faced south, was turned, the chancel was relocated to the east, and the ceiling was vaulted exposing its massive beams in 1942.
Original sanctuary facing south from 1893 to 1941.
Parish education building added in 1926.
New sanctuary facing east with vaulted ceilings finished in 1942.
The most recent renovations to the building include the addition of an outdoor ramp into the sanctuary in 1981. Accessibility to the communion rail for the physically challenged was completed in 1984.
Renovated sanctuary with a new coat of paint, better accessibility to the communion rail and an outdoor ramp leading to the north doors of the church, completed in 1984.