Chapel 626 University Ave. (First Location) Built Madison Landmark
Church 1023 University Ave. Madison Landmark
A short history of Luther Memorial Church
Lutheran churches in Madison, Wisconsin, worshiped in German or Norwegian when the Rev. W. K. Frick of Milwaukee held an introductory English service in 1905. Of the 13 present at the first service, 12 were students. Ministerial students led services in an upstairs dance hall on State Street
On May 23, 1907, with 35 members, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church was chartered as a congregation of the United Lutheran Church. The Rev. Howard R. Gold had the dual responsibility of serving University of Wisconsin students and building up the congregation. The church became a pioneer in ministering to students at a state university. In 1908, the growing church rented a synagogue on W. Washington Ave. (now a landmark in James Madison Park).
In 1915, the congregation built a chapel at Lake St. and University Ave. (now a food store) and changed its name to Luther Memorial to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Reformation. A campaign was launched for funds for a large church next to the chapel. Plans were changed, however, and 1021 University Ave. became the site of the Gothic structure dedicated on Reformation Sunday, 1923.
During the depression, LM lost members, but those who stayed became more closely knit. They held fund-raising events, tightened the budget, received outside help, and made offers to creditors. Still, there was a bankruptcy sale. The ULC Board of American Missions bought the property and sold it back to the congregation.
The congregation grew and paid its debt. During the '50s, the university began expanding around the church. People were moving to the city's outskirts. Yet the church kept growing, built an education wing, and bought a parking lot. The Lutheran Campus Center moved into the old parsonage west of the church in 1963. In 1966, the rear balcony of the nave was expanded and a new Austin organ installed.
In 1980, Lutheran Campus Ministry built a new building west of LM,with underground parking for the church. Later changes to the building have been an elevator addition, a free-standing altar, narthex expansion, undercroft remodeling, a large new baptismal font, and a columbarium. In 1997, the two side balconies were removed and replaced with small aria balconies. A historic Steere organ was installed in the east transept.
LM has become known for its liturgical and sacramental emphasis and music. It has continued close association with Lutheran Campus Ministry and become involved with local food pantries and other social ministry concerns. A new child development center preschool opened in September 1997.
The apse was renovated in 2000. New lights were installed in the nave in 2004.