You have probably seen many pictures on calendars of peaceful Vermont hamlets surrounded by rolling green hills. Along with a few white homes in the little settlement is an extremely attractive, but large, white clapboard church. Would you expect to find a similarly attractive church in the same exact style in Detroit?
The German-speaking immigrant population from West Prussia grew rapidly in southwest Detroit in the 1880s and 1890s. Nearby Zion Evangelical Lutheran on Military was founded to serve their spiritual needs in 1882. Just eight years later, Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran was founded as a daughter congregation. The elders quickly commissioned the famous Detroit firm of Spier and Rohns to design a wooden church at a cost of no more than $2,000.
This is a Victorian Gothic church with a traditional central tower. Along both sides there are five bays of lancet arched stained glass windows. The exterior is also a traditional one for large wooden churches—feather edged clapboard siding. The original external color scheme was cream and gold with accents in red and blue. At present, the church needs to be repainted to restore it to its original glory. You might compare this appealing but simple wooden church with the highly embellished Sweetest Heart of Mary Church at East Canfield and Russell, designed by the same firm at approximately the same time,
This Lutheran congregation came to the end of its existence in 1976. Two years later the church was sold to the Motor City Missionary Church, a congregation that had been founded by the Reverend John W. Haynes in 1967.
The state and national historic districts include just the church but the city historic district includes the attractive Queen Anne Victorian cottage with its clapboard siding and the two-story red brick school.
Architects: Frederick Spier and William Rohns
Architectural style: Victorian Gothic
Date of Completion: 1891
Use in 2003: Church
National Registry of Historic Sites: Listed April 22, 1982
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Listed October 2, 1980
There is no State of Michigan Historical Marker
City of Detroit Local Historic District: Listed January 17, 2001
Photo: Ren Farley, November 2003