St. Dominic's Catholic Church/Brewster Congregational Church

4844 Trumbell at West Warren


In the early 1890s, Congregationalists in Detroit’s prospering Woodbridge neighborhood wished to establish a church.  They organized a Brewster Congregation headquartered at the intersection of Trumbull and West Warren.  A chapel was built at that location in 1891.  I believe that a larger brick church was constructed by about 1906.  This is the older-looking structure that you see along West Warren just north of the larger church whose bricks have a deeper color of red.  Thus, the original Congregational church on this site opened just a few years after the impressive First Congregational Church on Woodward was completed.   In 1919, the Brewster congregation had the requisite funds to expand the church adding, I believe, the structure you see at the corner of Trumbull and West Warren.

I know little about this Congregationalist congregation.  I infer that in the mid 1920s, they had the resources to erect an attractive church at 7625 Linwood.  In 1925, Brewster Congregational sold the church you see pictured above to the Roman Catholic diocese.  The next year the Catholics opened St. Dominic’s Catholic Church with the Dominican Fathers staffing and managing the parish.  The Catholics extensively remodeled this 1919 church and added, I believe, the wing that you see parallel to Trumbull.

The Dominican fathers operated this church until 1999 when they gave up their control.  Priests from the diocese of Detroit took over.  In the fall of 2005, the diocese of Detroit announced that St. Dominic’s parish would be closed and the final Mass was said in this church on November 11 of that year.  At its peak, St. Dominic’s parish enrolled 800 families.  When closed, it had just 64 members.  Nevertheless, the convent for the parish school, located at 4835 Lincoln, remains open as the St. Dominic’s Outreach Center. This center is managed by the Catholic archdiocese of Detroit and now provides food and clothing to the homeless, the unemployed and the poor.  I do not know when the school was built, but I would speculate that it was erected after the Catholics replaced the Congregationalists at this location in the mid-1920s.

St. Dominic, born in Caleruega, Spain in 1170, studied at schools and university in Palencia, Spain.  In 1194, he became a priest in the order of St. Augustine.  At this time, a heresy grew popular in France, the Cathers.  Apparently, there were many who successfully preached for them.  They endorsed the idea of two gods and held that everything physical was evil.  Needless to say, the Roman Catholic hierarchy labeled them a heresy.  Dominic devoted himself to preaching the accurate gospel as he saw it.  By 1215, a small band of other priests joined with him in a monastery near Toulouse.  The group was recognized by Pope Honorius III in 1217 as a new order of priests, the Order of Preachers.  They became known as the Dominican fathers in honor of their founder.  So far as I know, preaching by the Dominicans and others curtailed the Cather heresy, so today you only find it in histories of theology.  Dominicans are the priests who staffed the church you see for 73 years.

The Brewster Congregation’s church on Linwood, beginning in the 1960s, was home to the Reverend Albert Cleage’s Central Congregation Church.  In the 1960s, Reverend Cleage developed, then preached and wrote extensively about a new theology that posited that Jesus Christ was a black revolutionary leader.  On Easter Sunday, 1967, Reverend Cleage unveiled, in the Linwood Avenue Church a large painting of Mary showing her as a black woman.  He then changed the name from Community Congregation Church to the Shrine of the Black Madonna, a name it retains.


Architect for Brewster Congregational Church: Almon C. Varney
Date of construction of the older church building: 1906
Architect for the larger building: Unknown to me.
Date of construction or the new: 1919
Date of remodeling for use by Catholics: 1926
Architectural style: Gothic
Website for Citidel of Faith Church:
Note: The former Convent—is in use as a social service center.
Website for St. Dominic’s Outreach Center:
City of Detroit Designated Historic District:  Not Listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not Listed
National Register of Historic Places: St. Dominic’s Church is included within the Woodbridge Neighborhood Historic District
Photograph:  Ren Farley; March 11, 2009
Description updated: May, 2014


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