The Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, which is the “Mother Church” of the former Augustana Lutheran Church in America, had its beginning in 1850 when a group of ten Swedish Lutheran immigrants established a congregation under the leadership of the Rev. Lars Paul Esbjörn. Jenny Lind, the famous 19th century Swedish singer, donated $1,500 so the congregation could start the building she never saw. Construction wasn’t easy. Lumber, which was to have been used for the church was lost when cholera struck, and the lumber was used to make coffins. The basement of the church became a hospital for the people with cholera. A brickyard was established in the colony, but heavy rains destroyed the bricks.
Not until the fall of 1854 was the church so near completion that it could be formally dedicated. The church was built in the most plain and prosaic form. There was no hint of churchly architecture. The building served as a dwelling for many of the immigrants who could find no other place to live when they first arrived. Very few churches were built in the midst of such sorrow, pain, and tears. The Chapel without a steeple and a bell attracted thousands of Swedish immigrants to Andover. The Chapel also was where the Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church in America was organized in 1870.
The Jenny Lind Chapel was dedicated as a shrine of the Evangelical Augustana Church in America in 1948. In the early 1970's, a local committee raised $40,000 to renovate the Chapel. It was admitted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. An immigrant museum is housed in the basement. It is located one block south of IL Route 81 in the west part of Andover, and is open every day from 9 AM – 5 PM April – October.