The History of Living Well Christian Church

Living Well Christian Church (LWCC) was first named the First Congregational Church but has always been fondly called ‘the little round church on the corner’ by everyone in Steger.

The membership originally worshipped in a traditional frame church with a tall bell tower and large arched windows, located in Steger on the corner of Steger Road and Florence Avenue. John V. Steger (1854-1916), the founder of Steger and the president and owner of the largest piano factory in the world, the Steger Piano Factory, and a member of the church along with his family, was the church’s benefactor.

Within 20 years the congregation was in need of a new building and Steger’s son, George, took on the role of benefactor by donating 5 city lots for a new church. The architect chosen was Emory Stanton Hall, a contemporary of architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Hall was a deacon in his Baptist church and a specialist in acoustic architecture. He also specialized in riverboat design. All his passions and attention to detail can be seen in the building.

Hall used a church design called the Modified Akron Design which incorporated a semi-circular sanctuary to emphasize the gathering-in of God’s people around his table. The acoustics of the semi-circular sanctuary are wonderful.

All windows, in the walls and in the interior doors, are in sets of three, reminding God’s people that life is best viewed through the Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are two sets of windows that have five or ten panes of glass. You will see them in the front doors and by the kitchen exit, reminding us to take with us the 10 points of the Law or the lessons of the five books of the Old Testament as we go out into the world. The green color in the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary are symbolic of peace and serenity. Each of the 10 sets of three stained glass windows is set off between wooden beams that all meet at the cross. It’s easy to see that the windows represent the Ten Commandments that were fulfilled at the cross by Jesus. Additionally, the wooden beams remind us of the beam – The Cross – that he carried for each of us.

Another unique feature of the building is that it included the first gymnasium in Steger. Now, the fellowship hall, the gymnasium was once used by the public school until they constructed their own gym.

Because of the church’s close relationship to the Steger family and the piano factory, the church’s heating system was supplied by steam heat run underground to the church from the piano factory’s furnaces located on the corner of Chicago and Steger Roads -where the Old K-Mart was located. This was a wonderful convenience until the factory closed and the furnaces were shut down. Needing heat immediately, the church membership gathered and together dug a basement for a boiler. The men dug the basement by hand sending up the dirt by bucket brigade while the women of the church kept them going with delicious meals.

The bell tower at the top of the church houses the original 1899 church bell and is used to call God’s people to worship every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The carillon bells, given in memory of Henry Hartmann Sr. in 1966, play regularly through the week.

When the building was tuck-pointed, flakes of red mortar were found between the upper layers of brick in a band around the building. It was restored and reminds the membership of the Blood of Christ that covers us, protects us, heals us, saves us, and unites us.

The fireplace is a token of devotion given to the church during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Many were without work and money at that time and were not able to support the church with monetary tithes and offerings. Even Rev. Joseph Jenkins, one of the longer serving pastors of the church, did not take a salary. Church member Jerry Madsen, an unemployed stone mason, constructed the fireplace with stones dug from nearby fields by other unemployed men.  The fireplace was a work of the heart by many who had nothing else to give but heart.

In recent years, the church has undergone much restoration and repairs to return it to a beautiful place to worship, learn and fellowship. This church, erected in November 1919, has remained a place of worship for 102 years, standing the test of time.

The little round church building is rich in spiritual significance. Reminders of God’s love and provision can be seen everywhere one looks. The church’s forefathers built into the very walls of the building Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”