Zion Lutheran Church has built a 170-year heritage in Jefferson City.
The Zion Lutheran Church is a blend of late Victorian Gothic architecture and a German aesthetic — a looming tower and stone buttresses jutting out from the walls make an imposing statement the structure’s inspiration. Of the many buildings that have stood on the grounds at 2346 Zion Rd,, this particular one, built in 1906, has stood the test of time.
The original congregation of Zion Lutheran Church met for the first time in 1843. There were 37 members, most of them German immigrants — after being driven from their homeland due to economic hardship, the group found comfort in the familiar customs of the church community, fostering German traditions in their new American town. Only two days after the first meeting, the congregants began the selection process to find a plot of land for their church. They found one a few miles north of Jefferson City.
Construction of the first church building (mostly made of logs) started promptly after the land purchase. In 1879, to accommodate a quickly growing community, a brick building replaced the little log church, taking on the function of a schoolhouse too. That building served its purpose for 30 years before it began to crumble and the need for a safer building came to the forefront of members’ minds. In 1906, the current church, now able to seat 200, opened its doors to the congregation, The old brick was repurposed during the new building’s construction as a memento of the church that came before it. The logs, sadly, didn’t make it.
The Zion Lutheran Church carries the weight of many histories, not only of Jefferson City, but also of the German immigrants that rebuilt their culture an ocean away from home. Today, when looking on its architecture, you can see its roots in both.