OBSERVING 175TH ANNIVERSARY 1841 – 2016
THE STORY OF SOLOMON – HISTORICAL STORY #7
And the house which King Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits. – 1 KINGS 6:2
The sanctuary dedicated in 1865 that was built along the dimensions of King Solomon’s temple was nearly 60 years old and it was time for change and remodeling.
A building committee was formed in 1922. The planned remodeling included new wall decorations, new windows, pews and flooring, new altar and pulpit, extension of the balcony, a restroom for the ladies to be located in the north end, and removal of all outhouses from the premises! The anticipated goal was to gather pledges totaling $25,000. Church Council minutes state that by May 1925 pledges reached $26,445. The project was completed in the Fall of 1925.
Dr. Henry Lindemann was called in 1923 and served Solomon Church for 24 years. Dr. Lindemann was a strong believer in special celebrations and prepared a week-long celebration of Divine Services conducted in both English and in German. There was a Vesper service, lectures/films, and a Sacred Concert at the time of the re-opening of the remodeled sanctuary. This major remodeling was completed 91 years ago, and today we enjoy the good decisions and treasure the antiquities that make Solomon such a special place to worship and reflect upon our historic past.
The very beautiful leaded glass windows were purchased from Swinton Art Glass, and are in the Tiffany style, each window is a one-of-a-kind, and are irreplaceable. In 2006 an independent appraiser of antiquities placed the value of the altar and statue, marble baptismal font, and the stained glass windows at $1,426,600.
The hand carved altar and the base in oak and tiger oak is carved in the Oberammergau style by German woodcarvers. The altar arrived in large boxes, and was re-assembled on site. Dr. Lindemann knew these woodcarvers from when he lived in Germany, and he arranged for them to carve the altar for Solomon.
The statue of Christ is the work of Alois Lang, master carver for American Seating Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. A letter dated November 1925 from Mr. Lang written from his Wisconsin studio to American Seating headquarters in Chicago states the following:
“It is very gratifying to know that the Reverend Dr. Lindemann was pleased with the statue we made here for his altar.
When carving it I had in mind the 28th verse, 11th chapter from Matthew: “Come Unto Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.
I have tried to convey in the expression of the face, the Saviors love and tender care for humanity; in the general pose, his majestic humility, suggesting by the slightly outstretched hands, his invitation to “Come Unto Me”.
If I have succeeded in conveying to the devout onlooker this verse from Matthew, I shall feel that I have achieved something worthwhile.”
Excerpts from the Obituary of Alois Lang: born 1872 in Oberammergau, Bavaria, a member of a family famed for woodcarving since the 1700s. He started to study woodcarving at age 14, specializing in ecclesiastical works. He came to the USA at age 19. His works beautify churches and cathedrals in widely separated parts of the country. His artistry is outstanding and he is nationally recognized as one of the very best carvers. He died in 1954 at age 82.
The Woodville Normal School closed in 1925 and there are several references in church minutes indicating that Solomon attempted to acquire the main building. This never happened, and the building was razed.
Minutes were handwritten in the German language until 1924. Congregational meetings during these years of transition were conducted in both the German language and in English. From the 1900s to the late 1940s, the minutes record many instances of concerns relating to German traditions, and the desire to become more of an English language congregation. German services continued through Dr. Lindemann’s ministry ending in 1947.
In 1927 a male teacher was paid $1,200 while his female counterpart received $900. The rational was that female teachers were not supporting a family, and this was common practice throughout schools. Solomon was not unique.
In 1928 the need for a new parsonage was considered and approved. The church purchased Lot 292 for $5,000 from William Basey who had a wallpaper and paint shop with a windmill standing on the back of the lot. Basey’s home was facing College Avenue and was purchased by Erwin Kaemming. In 1949 the church acquired this property which was later razed when the Educational Building was constructed in 1952. After acquiring the Kaemming property, Solomon now owned the entire block.
Solomon owned four properties: the sanctuary, new brick parsonage, the parochial school located on College Avenue, and the former two-story white frame parsonage. In 1930 the former parsonage was remodeled to be used as a “Parish House”. The intended use was for Sunday School rooms, meeting place for Ladies Aid and Dorcas Society, Men’s Brotherhood, and the Luther League. Some of us may remember the Ice Cream Socials, ping pong games and the fun-times in that building!
The next story will complete our journey through time and the recalling of highlights in the history of our church and school.
“The Story of Solomon” articles have been put together by Mary Lou Busdiecker in honor of Solomon Lutheran Church’s 175th Anniversary. We thank her for her diligence in research for, and organization of, this special time in Solomon’s life!