The truly remarkably detailed Neo-Gothic church was built between 1913 and 1915 to serve a prosperous parish in this area of Detroit's piety hill, so called because of the many churches located along Woodward between Grand Circus Park and Highland Park. In 1938, Edward Mooney obtained approval from the Vatican to designate this church as the Cathedral for the newly created archdiocese of Detroit. Early in the 21st century, the archdiocese of Detroit began a major renovation of the Cathedral along with the creation of an attractive park area on the northwest side of the impressive building.
This is one of the more impressive churches in the city of Detroit. There is a symmetrical façade on Woodward with the traditional rose window and a parapet screen with life-sized statues of saints. On either side of the entrance are massive, flat-roofed towers, but each has four tall pointed pinnacles. They are impressive. Along each side of this church are five bays, each separated from the next by buttresses, but within each bay there is a massive Gothic window. At the side of the church most removed from Woodward, you will see a tall metal, wood and stone spire. The numerous spires on this church are striking—and a challenge to count. I find the color of the limestone enhances the beauty of this edifice since it suggests warmth and compassion. People travel to Norman France to see extremely attractive medieval cathedrals. And they see them there. But you can visit Detroit and appreciate this cathedral whose architectural beauty clearly rivals that of the cathedrals designed by the imaginative craftsmen of late medieval France. This cathedral is extraordinarily impressive if you view it from the south east corner of West Boston Boulevard and Woodward in the mid to late afternoon.
This is one of the nation's treasures when it comes to Neo-Gothic churches built in the pre-Depression years of the 20th century.
Original architect: Henry A. Walsh
Date of original termination of construction: 1919
Architect for 1950s renovations: George Diehl
Date of renovations and additions including the completion of towers: 1950s
Architect for renovations of early 21st century: Gunnar Birkerts
Architectural style: Neo Gothic Cathedral
Building material: Limestone
Michigan Registry of Historical Sites: P25039
National Registry of Historic Sites: Listed August 3, 1982
Use in 2003: Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Detroit
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