& Self-Guided Tours
Architectural Tours -- Churches & Cathedrals
In the 19th
century, American designers picked up on the European "revivalist"
trend toward Medieval architecture and transformed it into what has become
known as the Victorian Gothic and Late Gothic Revival styles. Dozens of Detroit churches and cathedrals embody
elements of these styles. Note that
the interiors of many of these buildings are as or more impressive than the
exteriors, so be sure to take a look inside.
In addition to great architecture and history, these churches maintain
some of the oldest, finest and rarest vessels and vestments.
Anne de Detroit [A]
1000 Sainte Anne Street
One of many fascinating and historic churches in Detroit, St. Anne's is highly
demonstrative of the Victorian Gothic architectural period of the late 19th
century. But Ste. Anne's importance is
defined even more so by its history.
Construction of the original Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church began a
mere two days after French Explorer Antoine de la Mothe
Cadillac's landing in Detroit in 1701. Due to fires and urban renewal, Ste. Anne's
was re-built eight times in its history.
The present Ste. Anne's located near the Ambassador
Bridge was completed in 1887.
Ste. Anne's is the second oldest parish in the country with an
unbroken history, founded 75 years before the United States of America came
into existence, and is the sole operating entity that dates to Detroit's
founding. The church's historical
records are considered highly significant and comprehensively document Detroit's evolution
from a French settlement to a British-claimed territory to a U.S. city.
Fort Street Presbyterian [B]
631 West Fort Street
This National and State
historical monument was built in 1855 using limestone from the quarries of Malden, Canada. It was designed Decorated Gothic style by
architect Albert H. Jordan. The
highlight of the exterior is the spire that rises 265 feet above the street,
supported by flying buttresses atop a tower copied from a 15th century
English cathedral in Louth, England. At the time of its construction, Lafayette
and Fort Streets were the fashionable part of the city and it was surrounded
by the stately homes of prominent Detroiters including Russell A. Alger,
James, F. Joy, Theodore S. Buhl, Henry D Shelden,
and Zachariah Chandler.
Mariners' Church of Detroit [C]
170 East Jefferson Avenue
front-gable Gothic Revival church with walls of grey, irregularly coursed limestone
topped by a crenellated roofline is the oldest stone church in Michigan. The facade
shows a single-story dominated by a central rose window depicting a mariner's
compass and mariner's wheel. The church is listed in the National Register of
Historic Places and was immortalized in the 1975 ballad "The Wreck of
the Edmund Fitzgerald" as the "cathedral" where "the
church bell chimed 'til it rang 29 times" for each man that perished on
the doomed freighter.
St. John's Episcopal [D]
East Fisher Freeway
This Victorian Gothic-style
church was built in the mid-1800s along Woodward
Avenue in an area once known as Piety Hill. At the time, Piety Hill was considered to
be on the "outskirts" of the city but now is very much in the
middle of the action (the church is situated across from the Fox Theatre and adjacent to Comerica Park). In addition to impressive exterior
architecture, St. John's
has beautiful stained glass representative of a number of different
styles. If time, also check out Christ Church just south of Comerica Park
on the same side of Woodward.
St. Albertus [E]
4231 St. Aubin Street
Polish immigrants came to America
back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they found comfort and community in
their churches. St. Albertus Roman Catholic
Church played an important role in the life of Detroit's Polish-American community
for over 100 years. Designed to
emphasize the Polish origins of its congregation and to set it apart from
other churches in this area of the city, St. Albertus
is the mother church to some 30 parishes in Detroit.
St. Albertus was dedicated on July 4, 1885 and is a
symbol of the hard work and industry of the Polish families who first settled
in this area of Detroit. The building's rather plain, brick exterior
is contrasted with ornately painted ceilings and cross vaults, gilded panels,
colorful stained glass windows, and marble communion rails. St. Albertus is
no longer an active parish but holds one mass per month and is open to the
public for tours.
Sweetest Heart of Mary [F]
4440 Russell Street
Sweetest Heart of Mary Church was founded in 1886 as a result of dissension
within mother parish St. Albertus and became a
cornerstone of the Polish community
in Detroit. This
awe-inspiring church, designed by the architectural firm of Spier and Rohns, was hailed as one
of the most beautiful Gothic structures in the State of Michigan and as the
largest and grandest Polish church in the United States. It remains a source of pride and a beacon
of faith for Polish Americans in the metro Detroit area to this day.
St. Josaphat [G]
691 East Canfield Street
was founded in 1889 with much-needed additional capacity for the steady
influx of Polish immigrants into the city in the late 1800s. It became the fourth Polish-speaking parish
in the City of Detroit and provided an alternative to the two bickering
Polish-speaking parishes nearby, St. Albertus and
Sweetest Heart of Mary. St. Josaphat is built in the Victorian Romanesque style with
some Gothic and Baroque details. The
expansion of electric light had great impact on St. Josaphat
as is evidenced by all of the sacred images of the church illuminated by a
myriad of tiny light bulbs.
of St. Paul [H]
4800 Woodward Avenue
St. Paul is one of the first
and finest examples of the Late Gothic Revival style. The architect was Ralph Adams Cram, a
leading designer of Gothic Revival churches in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. Built entirely of
limestone, the Cathedral was not only intended to look Gothic, but it was
actually built according to medieval construction techniques. There is no
steel superstructure in the building, and its enormous weight is entirely
self-supported. A Detroit
Number of Destinations: 8
Overall Tour Time:
1 day (allowing for extended stops at several locations)
Me to Rent a Car!!!
Tours -- Skyscrapers & Commercial Buildings
Tours -- Great Estates
Architectural Tours -- Historic
Woodward Scenic Tours
Resources & Links
National Register of Historic
Sacred Heart Seminary