Day 351 - Paxton
In 1863, Augustana College and Seminary moved from Chicago to Paxton as the result of a land agreement made with the Illinois Central Railroad. Dr. Tuve N. Hasselquist, college president at the time of the move, replaced the Reverend Lars Esbjörn, who had headed the school in Chicago. The school remained in Paxton until the fall of 1875, when it was relocated to Rock Island, Illinois. In 1957, a marker was dedicated on the former site of Augustana College and Seminary at Summer and Park Streets, opposite Glen Cemetery.
Augustana’s move to Paxton brought an influx of Swedish immigrants. They organized the First Lutheran Church, 301 S. College Street (217-379-2985), in Hasselquist’s home in June 1863. In 1907 the third and present church at the south-east corner of College and Orleans was built. It is a large, red-brick structure that originally had two spires. Olof Grafström’s Crucifixion (about 1910) hangs behind the altar. In the chapel in the sanctuary’s rear are two stained-glass windows depicting Hasselquist and Martin Luther. The sacristy has pictures of all the former pastors as well as an old communion set. The Evangelical Covenant Church, 260 S. Union Street (217-379-3554) at the northwest corner of Union and Orleans, was organized in 1878 as the result of a split from First Lutheran.
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