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In 1837, a number of Evangelical families came to Naperville from Warren, Pennsylvania. These Evangelicals, principally German immigrants, met for religious services in homes and local schools until 1841, when they built their first church structure.
Captain Joseph Naper donated the lot for the church building, which originally faced south on Van Buren Street halfway between Eagle and Webster streets. Congregational members helped to cut logs from the neighboring Big Woods and hauled them by teams of oxen to the local sawmill.
The two doors on the south side served as separate entrances for men and women. Pews, neither painted nor varnished, provided seating for the congregation. The pulpit was low, with only a few steps leading up to it. The congregation grew to such an extent that by 1845, an addition had to be built. As the Evangelical population increased in Naperville, the congregation outgrew even the expanded space. Thus, 17 years after the erection of the first church, members began construction of a brick church on the corner of Center and Franklin streets.
The old church was sold to a Lutheran congregation in 1858 for $600. In 1937, the Lutheran church changed its name to St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957, it became known as St. John United Church of Christ. The last worship service held in this church building took place when the Heritage Society relocated it to the settlement grounds in 1971 and rechristened it the Meeting House. Today, the building is used for Naper Settlement's family and youth programs, and is the oldest religious structure in DuPage County.
523 S. Webster St., Naperville, IL 60540 • 630.420.6010 • Fax: 630.305.4044
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