History

In August , 1888 Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Logan Square resolved to open a branch of its Lutheran grade school in a building at California and Barry Avenues, where many of its members had their homes or farms. Mrs. Sophie Bauermeister provided the building rent free. The Pastor of Christ Logan Square also conducted Divine services every other week in the same building. On June 29, 1891 six former members of Christ Logan Square met in the same building to organize Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church. Throughout its entire history Concordia has been affiliated with the Luther Church - Missouri Synod.

On July 22, 1891 Concordia resolved to accept Mrs. Bauermeister's offer of 2 lots at California and Barry Avenues, including the school building, for construction of a house of worship. Five months later, in December, 1891, it was apparent that the original location was too small to construct a church large enough to accommodate the rapidly growing membership. Mrs. Bauermeister offered to exchange the 2 lots at California and Barry Avenues, including the school building, for 3 lots at Belmont Avenue and Washtenaw Avenue. She also sold an adjacent fourth lot to the congregation for construction of a Parsonage.

The renowned architect, Fred Ahlschlager prepared the building plans, and the construction of the present church edifice and the Parsonage was begun in 1892 and completed in 1893. During construction in 1892, the framework for the parsonage was toppled like a "house of cards" by a windstorm, which increased the costs for the parsonage by an extra one-third. The dedication service to open the church was on April 23, 1893. The original organ was purchased from the Jackson Organ Company for $2,400.00. The City of Chicago had to extend its water lines to the church site so that water would be available to the new building.

Our church building is considered to be a Neo-Gothic structure, and the two large stained glass windows are known as Rose Windows, which typically only face east and west to take advantage of the rising and setting sun. Our church edifice is considered to be an architectural showplace because the numerous massive pillars drop support the roof and ceiling, even though the pillars do not extend down to and are not secured to the floor. Our church became a highly visible landmark in eastern Avondale because the bell steeple is over 150 feet high and it can be seen for a long distance east or west bound on Belmont Avenue. Such a high elevated steeple was not typically associated with a Neo-Gothic church. Furthermore, the interior of the church was, for a short time, lit by gas light in the early years, until electric service became available. Incidentally, the new electric lights were attached to the bottoms of the pillar-drops, and a large chandelier was mounted in the center of the ceiling. An elevated balcony which served as the organ and choir loft was located in the rear of the church.

The altar was recessed in the Sanctuary, front of the church, and the pastor delivered his sermon from an elevated pulpit on the left side of the altar. The main floor and balcony accommodated over 600 worshipers. In 1928 a new Moeller 3 manual organ was purchased for $20,000.00 and the original organ was sold for $1,000.00. In 1937 a new brick Parsonage replaced the old frame structure.

In the beginning all church services were conducted in the German language. In the early 1900s separate church services began to be conducted in English and German. This practice continued until 2007. Since then only English services are offered. Our largest baptized membership of 1,775 was recorded in 1913, and the highest number of communicant members , 1,315, was realized in 1920.

In the 1950s several remodeling projects costing $13,000.00 were completed. A glass partition was constructed in line with the front edge of the balcony to enlarge the Narthex, which reduced the seating capacity of the main sanctuary to 500 worshipers. A new interior stairway to the church basement was constructed from the Narthex. A new lighter colored altar was built and moved slightly forward allowing for an enlarged Sacristy, plus new matching ommunion rails, lectern and lowered pulpit.

During the summer of 1893 the grade school physically moved two blocks from California and Barry Avenues to 2640 W Fletcher Street and an addition was also constructed on the three lot site purchased by the congregation. In 1914 the entire outside of the school building was brick-veneered. The German language was used for all classroom instruction for the first several years until replaced by English. The grade school enrollment reached its peak of 277 students in 1906. The grade school was closed in 1960 because of insufficient enrollment and the cost of complying with new City of Chicago safety requirements to replace the wooden stairways and install a sprinkler system in the classrooms.

Throughout our first 100 years , and until the mid 1990s, we offered religious instruction for children at our Sunday morning Sunday School classes. These classes were held in our former grade school building for 90 years, until it was demolished in 1982, even though grade school classes had been discontinued in the building in 1960. Sunday School was then conducted in the church basement from 1982 until the mid 1990s. In 1940 we began a "branch" Sunday School and kindergarten in a "store-front" building at 3013 N Clybourn Avenue, which lasted throughout most of the 1940s. In fact, we reached our highest Sunday School total enrollment of 196 in 1942 at our 2 campuses.

We were served by seven full-time pastors from 1891 to 2007, until the death of our last full-time pastor, Reverend Arnold Windish-Graetz, who led us for 40 years. Since then we have continued to conduct divine services with part-time clergymen. Two pastors have officiated in that capacity to allow our congregation to maintain its mission to spread the gospel of salvation on Belmont Avenue in Avondale for the 21st century.