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Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Ingram hall

This fall marks the 60th year that Immanuel Lutheran College (ILC) has been located on its campus in Eau Claire. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to reflect on how gracious the Lord has been and continues to be to our synod and our school.

In 1959, Immanuel Lutheran congregation in Mankato boldly and with great faith demonstrated the importance of Christian education by establishing a high school, college, and seminary; and in 1960 the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) assumed control of the school. These actions reflect how the training of young men and women, especially for the public ministry, has been a foremost emphasis from the earliest days of our synod. ILC was blessed with a strong enrollment and thus an increased need for housing, so a Planning Committee was elected to find a permanent site for the school. The Planning Committee had recommended the purchase of 20 acres adjacent to Messiah Church in Eau Claire for $4000. The Lord, though, was preparing a solution for our synod beyond anything that had been contemplated, and His guiding hand could clearly be seen in the purchase of the Ingram estate.

In the early 1920’s, the lumber baron Erskine Ingram had built an estate on the south side of Eau Claire. Later, per Erskine’s will, his son Orrin donated the buildings and the seventy-five acres to the Minnesota Foundation in St. Paul, which used it as a retirement home. This venture, though, was not financially viable, and they had to sell. The Lord directed this information to Pastor Arvid Gullerud of the Messiah congregation. From the date the chairman of the Planning Committee first viewed the property on November 28, 1962, things went very quickly. The full committee met on December 3 and unanimously agreed that the synod should purchase the property. On January 9-10, 1963, a special convention was called, and the CLC purchased the Ingram estate, valued in 1963 at $200,000, for $85,000.

Though the property was ideal for a campus, and the Minnesota Foundation had done significant remodeling, much work was needed to be done to prepare it for the school year. At the time of purchase, the property comprised five buildings: the mansion (Ingram Hall), the annex (West Hall), a small barn (Sem House), a large barn (Northwest Hall), and the caretaker’s house (Birch Hall). These building had to be converted into classrooms and dorms. Thanks to the hard work of CLC members who came from across the country to help, the campus was ready for the fall, though the conditions were far from what we are blessed with today. As Eunice Roehl writes in Throughout All Generations, “Excited students could hardly believe their eyes when they arrived in the fall. The amazement they expressed was echoed by all who ventured onto the campus. It was truly a gift from the Lord, one that would be enjoyed and appreciated for generations to come.”

This generation of students, faculty, and staff can enjoy and appreciate how the Lord has sustained our school on this campus. Two classroom buildings, Reim Hall and the Cottage, have been replaced by the Academic Center. We now have dorms for boys and girls as well as faculty houses. And we now have a gymnasium, the Commons building, and a maintenance shed. While we can surely marvel at how the Lord has materially blessed what in the world’s eye is a tiny, insignificant school tucked away in the woods on the south side of Eau Claire, we can be even more thankful that He has kept and continues to preserve His Word among us, taught in its truth and purity. Indeed, no matter how the campus continues to change, or where the Lord chooses to locate us, as long as we have His Word, we have all we need.

(This article is based on information from Eunice Roehl’s Throughout All Generations: Immanuel Lutheran College 1959-2008 , Lynette Roehl’s The Erskine B. Ingram Estate 1920-63: God’s Gift to Immanuel Lutheran College , and David Lau’s Out of Necessity: A History of the Church of the Lutheran Confession . If you are interested in tours of the historic Ingram mansion, please contact Lynette Roehl [].)

Dr. Daniel Schierenbeck is President of Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.