Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Salem Lutheran, Toledo

One of the crown jewels of Lutheranism in NW Ohio ... Salem, founded January 17, 1842, is the oldest Lutheran congregation in Toledo. The church website history page states: "Originally composed of German immigrants of a variety of church backgrounds, it was incorporated as 'Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Congregation.' " The BGSU Center for Archival Collections has some family registers for the congregation that date back as early as 1786.

Also from the website: "In 1857 some members left to form St. Paul's Lutheran (downtown Toledo). Three years later a benevolent society was formed to provide care for orphans. Land was purchased on Toledo's East Side and a church and an orphans' home were built, predecessors to today's First St. John's Lutheran and the Lutheran Homes Society. Salem also assisted in the founding of St. John's (Southside), St. John's (Williston), and Epiphany Lutheran Churches. The current worship building was erected in 1871 and dedicated on September 10 of that year. $9,000 of the $12,000 cost was paid in cash. Major renovations occurred in 1889, 1916, and in the mid-1960's. A Wicks pipe organ was installed in 1967."
The church cuts an amazing profile. The steeple towers above its historic Vistula-Old North End neighborhood ...
... and the church boasts its own Ohio historical marker. You can read the text of the marker here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/your_state/remarkable_ohio/marker_details.cfm?marker_id=851

The window over the front door - I did a quick flip of the photo ...
This altar: imposing, grandiose, resplendent! One of the finest I've seen anywhere. Breathtaking!
Towering, soaring heavenward ...
Gothic magnificence!
I have not been able to find out the name of the artist who painted the Ascension picture. Does anyone know???
This tabernacle is perfect ... and so are those candlesticks!
St. Peter ...
And St. Paul!

Like St. John's in the Old South End, the pews have a divider down the middle, with no center aisle. At the time these churches were built, the custom was that men sat on one side, and women and children sat on the other. By the turn of the century, it had finally occurred to everyone that families should sit together! (Does anyone know if St. Paul's was originally built with divided pews?)
Lancet windows let their colored light sift through, intersperced with shallow vaults, each bearing a chrismon or religious symbol ...
This Luther rose appears at the sides in the choir loft ...

The pulpit, which Pastor Mary Lou doesn't always use; rather, often standing down in front and interacting on a more personal level with her congregation ...
The engraving of the Last Supper on the lower front of the altar ...
A small, simple baptismal font (marble? granite?) at the back of the church. The Holy Trinity icon is a relatively recent addition.
One of Salem's parishioners. This church does SO much for its impoverished neighborhood: a soup kitchen, Feed Your Neighbor and Agape, programs for children, substance abuse support ... the Old North End has a blessing in Salem, and we all have a blessing in their rich history and shaping of our Lutheran heritage in NW Ohio.

First photo of church, at top, by Jeffrey Smith.


  1. Wow! It's pretty rare (at least in my neck of the woods) to see a Lutheran church of this stature and with such an abundance of decoration. Thanks for sharing these wonderful gems! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks, Chase ... and I rather like your Steeplechase blog. What is that lovely old country church in the picture at the top of the page?

  3. Thanks for the compliments! The photo of the church on the very top of my blog is of Immaculate Conception Church in the tiny town of St. Helena, NE. I haven't posted on it yet, but I will in the hopefully near future!