Nineteen families met on February 12, 1903 and formed
DEUTSCH EVANGELISCHE ST. PAULUS de von MANNHEIM
ST. PAUL’S GERMAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF MANNHEIM.
They were organized March 12, 1903 and chartered April 11, 1903, with Francis Stoehlke acting as chairman. The charter members were:
Edgar H. Boesenberg
August D. Schmidt
Charles Popp,George Herbst,William Siemers
Henry Kirschoff, William Blume, Fred Heller, William Boesenberg, Fred Siemers, John Hansen Heinrich Freie, Charles H. Martins, Francis Stohlke, William Hartwig and William F. Walter
The first Church Council consisted of:
On March 12, 1903 Charles Popp, George Herbst and William Siemers are elected as trustees of: Deutsche Evangelische St. Paulus Gemeinde von Mannheim which was located in Mannheim, County of Cook, Illinois
The original church was a white frame building with a steeple housing the bell. It consisted of a sanctuary upstairs with a seating capacity of 200 and a basement downstairs.
The first floor was a large room with a high ceiling lighted with hanging kerosene lamps. The aisle ran at an angle from the door to the altar. About 75 metal frame chairs with wooden backs and folding seats filled the sanctuary. The front of the church, in front of the raised chancel, was decorated with wire frames which were covered with garlands for Easter, Christmas and other special occasions. The pulpit, pump organ and altar were on the raised chancel. The altar was plain wood with a decorative carving on the front. It held bouquets of flowers and the Bible. Directly above was the hymnal number board. In 1907 the hymnal number board was moved to one side, and a large mural of Christ Knocking at the Door was put in its place. Two Bible verses in German, one on either side of the mural, covered a large portion of the wall behind the altar. The front of the church had a large stained glass window.
The basement housed a large open room with a coal room and a kitchen (with no running water) off to one side. The kitchen contained a big cookstove on which many fine meals were prepared, and which was also used to heat water in wash tubs for washing dishes.
A huge grating was in the aisle over the furnace which the first janitor, Father Kropp, used to start at 3:00 a.m. in an effort to take the chill off the building in winter. His salary was $25.00 annually and he was exempt from Church assessments. Later his salary was raised to $30.00 annually.
All the services were held in German, and German classes, as well as religion were taught on Saturdays. German school was conducted during the summer months for the children. The pastor received 75 cents per child per month to offset the expenses of the school.
On April 16, 1903, a group of women met at the home of Mrs. Henry Bosenberg to organize a Frauen-Verein (Women’s Guild) of the German Evangelical St. Paul’s Church in Mannheim.
In 1906, Mr. Kirchhoff donated two more lots and a parsonage was built to the south of the church. This was a large, two story structure. Sheds were built for horses and 25 post for tying the horses were installed. The barn was raised in 1906.
In 1909 St. Paul’s became affiliated with the Evangelical Orphans and Old People’s Home organization in Bensenville (now known as the Bensenville Home).
In 1928 St. Paul’s Constitution was translated into English and council meetings begin to be recorded in English.
In January 1939, there was a balance of $3.58 with $75.77 in past due bills. In the spring of 1939, the church was advised by the State of Illinois that a portion of their land (up to the front of the church!) would be condemned in order to build a bridge over the Milwaukee Railroad tracks. The Church was given $14,500.00 by the State for this property The County also desired a piece of their property on the north for the extension of Franklin Avenue along the Milwaukee tracks, and paid $680.96 for the land.
On April 29, 1940 a large portion of the church burned. (Pictures from the library give the date of the fire as May 15, 1940.). A brush fire in the field behind the building, aided by the wind, was the cause.
The new church is dedicated on May 25, 1941, at a cost of $26,000.00 with a $10,000.00 mortgage held by the Extension Fund Board, Evangelical Synod of North America, to be paid off in ten years, interest of 3%. The church’s official name was then changed to St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church of Franklin Park. This new church was built of stone block, leaded glass windows, exposed timber trusses and housed the sanctuary, parish hall, kitchen and an upstairs apartment for the minister. The bell in the bell-cote of the new building was one of the many items salvaged from the old church.
In 1952 the church began to plan for the expansion of its facilities. The titles to the four fifty-foot lots to the west of the church (to which it had previously been given quit-claim deeds) were cleared.
At the annual meeting of the congregation in January of 1953, the preliminary blueprints for a proposed addition to the church were discussed.
In June 1953 the parsonage at 3344 Gustav Street was purchased, making the pastor’s apartment above the parish hall available for additional Sunday School space. Our Sunday School has an enrollment of over 300 children.
Membership on January 1, 1956 was 540. Also, in 1956, the addition to the south of the original building was underway. That addition provided a larger parish hall, expanded kitchen facilities, and more classrooms.
On September 8, 1957 ground was broken for an educational wing, with the cornerstone laid in November of 1957. The educational wing holds a large multi-meeting room, offices and washrooms downstairs, and eight Sunday School rooms upstairs.
In 1966 the parsonage on Gustave Street was sold and a new four bedroom, two story parsonage was built on one of the four vacant lots west of the church. On April 21, 1968 the new parsonage was dedicated. At the time of its dedication a time capsule was buried along the outside south wall of the garage. It contains items of the 1960’s put there by the upper grade classes of the 1968 Vacation Bible School.
During its first century, St. Paul’s has baptized over 1,516 persons and over 1,228 persons confirmed