History Center

Illinois Historic Sites

Historic Churches

Addison Street, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance: A small group of Swedish Baptists organized a church in Chicago in 1854. Wiberg, Palmquist and Nilsson were all convinced that Chicago was a strategic center for work among Swedish immigrants. L.L. Frisk was an early leader. By  1859 there were still only 20 members. By 1864, it had disbanded but it was resurrected in 1866 which is the official date of organization of the church which has continued to today.

Address and Directions: The current name of this congregation is Christ’s Church in Wrigleyville. It is very close to Wrigley Field in downtown Chicago. The address is 1277 W. Addison Street. The current church was built in ??

Galesburg, IL

Historic Significance: In 1859, a church was founded in Galesburg, IL. The entire membership of this body moved to Altona. But a second church was organized in 1869. This congregation also disbanded and had to be re-organized in 1879 and again in 1888. Finally, a church was organized in 1891 which continued ministry. The current Bethel Baptist Church is the continuation of that congregation.

Address and Directions: Galesburg, IL is about 45 miles straight south from Moline, IL on Hwy I-74. The current church building is at 1196 No. Academy Street.

First Swedish Baptist Church, Rock Island, IL

Site of the First Baptism and the First Swedish Baptist Church:
On August 8, 1852, the first known baptism of Swedish Baptist believers took place in the Mississippi River at Rock Island, IL. Gustaf Palmquist, ordained only two days before in Galesburg, was the preacher. The three baptized that day, August Mankee, Petter, Soderstrom and Frederica Boberg, formed themselves into the Swedish Baptist Church of Rock Island 5 days later. This is known to be the first Swedish Baptist Church in America. They built their first meeting house in 1855 on 5th Avenue, between 20th and 21st Streets. That building no longer exists today. Groups from this mother church went out to plant the Village Creek church in Iowa and another Swedish church in Oakland, NE. In 1867, 74 members left to form the Moline, IL church. By 1930, thought they had been so instrumental in starting the work of Swedish Baptists in America, their numbers had dwindled and they disbanded, their members seeking affiliation with the American Baptist Church in Rock Island. Rock Island was the gathering site for the first meetings of delegates from Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota ( 1858) however a formal constitution, bringing into existence a national conference, did not take place until 1864 at Village Creek.

Address and Directions: The old church site is on 5th street between 20th and 21st Streets. The site of the first Baptism can be found……

Educational Sites

Historic Sites of Bethel Seminary

Name: Missionsskola, Baptist Theological Union, University of Chicago

Historic Significance: John Alexis Edgren intended to open his seminary for Swedish students in the First Swedish Baptist Church in Chicago where he was pastor. However, the church burned in the Great Chicago fire the night before the seminary was to begin. The Baptist Theological Union of the University of Chicago invited Edgren to house his seminary with them in South Chicago and ultimately in Morgan Park. This gave them classroom space, access to a huge library, and financial support from the American Baptists as the seminary began its work. The Seminary was housed with the Baptist Theological Union from 1871 until 1884 when Edgren resigned. Edgren’s resignation was due to theological differences with his American colleagues, secret societies and pre-millennialism, and a desire for an independent Swedish institution. The seminary moved to the facilities of First Swedish Baptist Church in St. Paul, MN.  But it was to return to the Morgan Park facilities in 1888 where it became the Swedish Department of the Baptist Union Theological Seminary. The second sojourn in Chicago lasted until the 1914 move to St. Paul, MN.

Address and Directions:  The first site of Missionsskola was on Cottage Grove Avenue in South, Chicago between 34th and 35th Streets on the campus of the University of Chicago. In the fall of 1877 the Seminary was moved to Morgan Park, twelve miles south. The boundaries of the Morgan Park campus were 107th and 119th Streets, Halsted and California. The Seminary was in Morgan Hall at 111th St. and Hoyne Avenue from 1877 to 1884.

Name: The Swedish Department of the Baptist Union Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance: The second sojourn of the Seminary in Chicago lasted 16 years compared to the 13 years of the first Chicago period. The seminary established itself again in Morgan Park, IL in the fall of 1888 after an aborted journey to St. Paul, MN and Stromsberg, NE. It was housed at Morgan Park from 1888 until the return to St. Paul in 1914, except for two years, 1892-1894, when it was housed at Cobb Hall at the University of Chicago.

Address and Directions:
The boundaries of Morgan Park were 107th to 119, between Halsted and California Streets. The Seminary was in Blake Hall from 1888 to 1892 and in Walker Hall from 1894 to 1907. It returned to its first home in Morgan Park, Morgan Hall at the corner of Hoyne and 111th St. from 1907 to 1914.

Name: Hispanic Bible Institute

Historical Significance:

Historical Sites of Baptist Conference Headquarters

912 Belmont Street, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance:  This was the first headquarters building for the Baptist General Conference. The BGC established its headquarters on Belmont Street in 19    and moved to 5750 North Ashland in 19—

Address and Directions:
912 Belmont Street, Chicago, IL
5750 North Ashland, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance: This building was used as headquarters of the Baptist General Conference from 19    to 19. A good deal of the development of the contemporary mission and church development program of the BGC took place while the Conference did its business at this site. The BGC moved from this site to Evanston, IL in 19

Address and Directions:

Evanston, IL BGC Headquarters

Historic Significance: This was the third contemporary location for the BGC headquarters. The BGC was only in this building a brief time. It was decided that the building was too large for their operations and a move was made to the current site in Arlington, IL

Address and Directions:

Arlington Heights BGC Headquarters

Historic Significance: This building has housed the administrative activities of the Baptist General Conference since 19

Address and Directions:

Other Historic Sites

John Alexis Edgren Home, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance:
J. A. Edgren was the originator of the Swedish Baptist Seminary which eventually became Bethel University. He was pastor of the First Swedish Baptist Church in Chicago at the time. He was one of the most important leaders, not only of Bethel, but of the Baptist General Conference. Adolf Olson says of Edgren: “ a man who was destined to exercise a greater influence upon Swedish Baptist of American than perhaps anyone else.” ( Centenary History, pg 148)

Edgren built this house in Morgan Park in 1882 . It is now a designated architectural historical site because it is one of the finest examples of “pattern book” architecture. Edgren built this house from plans published in a book called Palliser’s American Cottage Homes, the nation’s most influential pattern book architects of the 19th Century. The plans cost 50 cents and construction costs were about $2,800. Edgren purchased the land from the Blue Island Land and Building Company for “one dollar and the agreement to erect and occupy a dwelling on the premises before Jan 1, 1883”.  Edgren lived in this house until the seminary moved to St. Paul and then Stromsberg, NE in 1884. The current owners have restored it to its original condition.

Address and Directions:
The Edgren house is located at 2314 W. 111th Pl in the Beverly/Morgan Park area of Chicago.

Fridhem, Home of Rest, Chicago, IL

Historic Significance: Eric Rosen, a Swedish preacher, was instrumental in the beginning of a number of Chicago area philanthropic organizations, including the Englewood Hospital, the Swedish Mutual Aid Association and the Oak Hill Cemetery. With a gift of $25.00 from the General Conference meetings in Big Springs, SD, a fund was begun to open an old people’s home in Chicago. The home opened in February, 1905 in a residence at 236 Sunnyside Avenue. By December, the home had moved to larger quarters in Morgan Park near the Swedish Seminary. The name has been changed today to Fairview Ministries and has become an extensive ministry to the elderly.

Address and Directions: 210 Village Drive, Downers Grove, IL