Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church 

Project Name
Immanuel Lutheran Church

1923 Fifth Avenue
Rock Island, Illinois

Project Status
Church is open under new congregation; Mallin decorations are gone.

Project Date/s
1938, 1963

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rock Island was founded in 1856, and is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Rock Island is in western Illinois, on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River. A brief history of the church written by Diane Oestreich can be found on the website of the Rock Island Preservation Society cited below, and is briefly summarized here.

The church was founded to accommodate German Lutherans in the area. It was originally called the “Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congress of the United Augsburg Confession of Rock Island.” It is currently referred to as Immanuel Lutheran Church. Two successive churches were constructed in 1857 and 1865 to serve the congregation. The current church was constructed in 1896 in a Gothic style, and was made of St Louis pressed brick and stone trimmings, and measures 62 x 102 feet.

John Mallin and unknown worker

John Mallin first decorated Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1938, according to his bank records and contract with the church. The contract for the work to be done in the church for the amount of $3,200, specifies painting, decorating and mural painting. A letter dated March 10, 1938, from Rev. H.F.C. Wetzel, the pastor of the church, mentions that he and three members of the board were in Chicago visiting three churches and a convent that Mallin decorated, were impressed with them, and wanted him to do work in their church. The contract with the church was dated shortly after that in April of 1938. A photo of the church from 1938 after the Mallin decorations shows extensive stenciling, and a large mural behind the altar. Stars are also visible on the altar ceiling.

In 1963, Mallin redecorated the church. A Mallin letter dated in March of 1963 indicates he had just finished decorating the church. Two photos of the church are also dated 1963. This may be one of the last churches Mallin decorated.
A black and white photo from 1963 shows a new mural behind the altar, as well as stars on the altar ceiling. According to Diane Oestreich, the stars were gold on a blue background. This star decoration and colors are similar to the blue background and stars Mallin painted in the lobby of St Edmunds church in Oak Park, Illinois. The 1963 decorations also included two new murals on the walls on each side of the altar. Two color photos from 1963 show Mallin and one of his workers on scaffolding working on the two murals.

According to a 2010 article in the Rock Island Dispatch-Argus, the church was repainted in 1972-1973, and the stars on the altar ceiling were painted over. In a photo accompanying the article the Mallin mural behind the altar and the two murals on either side of the altar appeared to be intact.

In 2010 the church was sold, and is currently rented to the Grace City Church congregation. The Immanuel Lutheran congregation moved to a new church, taking one of the large stained glass windows to the new church. According to the current congregation the remaining Mallin murals were painted over before they moved into the church.


Lagerstam, Leon. “A last cry, a look forward for Immanuel Lutheran members.” The Rock Island Dispatch-Argus. Jul 16, 2010.

Oestreich Diane. Immanuel Lutheran Church. Rock Island Preservation Society.

Chapel Brochure
Chapel Brochure