Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the agency that evolved from the Andover Children's Home, celebrated its 150th anniversary by participating in the 10:30 am worship service at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the agency that evolved from the Andover Children’s Home, celebrated its 150th anniversary by participating in the 10:30 am worship service at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover on Sunday, Oct. 15.

David Novak, LSSI’s Vice President for Advancement, gave the message.

Following the service, a catered lunch was served in Luther Hall.

LSSI traces its roots back to 1867, when an orphanage opened for children whose parents were victims of a devastating cholera epidemic in the Andover area.

The Andover Children’s Home was the first Lutheran charitable institution in Illinois, and one of the earliest in the nation.

For many years, the orphanage was run by a board of directors under the Augustana Lutheran Church in America.

In 1874, the home was incorporated under the name The Orphans’ Home and Farm School at Andover.

Much of the income and most of the table food for the home came from the farm operation, which used the labor of the residents for planting and harvesting crops in the fields and large gardens.

Various types of livestock were also raised on the 468-acre farm.

While the boys labored outside, the girls were kept busy with housework, cooking and canning.

This was done until around 1950, when state laws became so strict that boys and girls could not work.

It was also during this time that the orphanage became primarily a home for troubled youth.

When the home’s one-room school closed in 1917, the children went to public schools in Andover.

They also attended Sunday school and worship services at Augustana Church in Andover.

Local support for the home was very strong throughout its history. Congregations from far and wide donated funds, volunteer hours, food and toys. Men came to help with carpentry and farm work, and women came to sew, can and prepare food.

When the women came to help, they would bring treats for the children.

One of the most wide-spread fund-raising projects to help support the home was the sale of little red hearts every spring by Sunday school students from Augustana congregations throughout the state of Illinois.

When the original structure was destroyed by fire in 1908, the residents were taken in by area families, with most of them staying with these families the rest of their childhood.

At the time the home closed in 1970, more than 1,000 children had been cared for during a period of 103 years.

Many of the children raised at the home became permanent residents in the Andover area.

For several years, home alumni reunions were held, with former residents coming from all parts of the United States.

The property was used as a retreat center from 1971 - 1977.

In 1991, a special commemorative plaque was dedicated at the home site by LSSI and home alumni members.