Judge Augustus Woodward, in the first decade of the Nineteenth Century, borrowed innovative concepts of French urban planning from Pierre L’Enfant whom Thomas Jefferson had recruited to design the nation’s capital. Woodward called for radial axes to travel outward from the center of Detroit. The major one of these would become the city’s most prominent and prestigious thoroughfare. Not surprising, Woodward, in 1805, named it Woodward. The other major radials from Judge Woodward’s plan are East and West Jefferson named for the president; Gratiot named for the man who served as Quartermaster General during the War of 1812; Michigan and Grand River.
Before the Civil War, Woodward became the most important place for the location of a religious building. When congregations became prosperous enough to built an appropriately inspiring structure signifying their importance in the community, they often selected Woodward as their location. The National Register of Historic Places designated 22 religious buildings on or near Woodward as a Thematic Resource.
In 1936, the City of Detroit widened Woodward Avenue to eight traffic lanes. For religious buildings located between Grand Circus Park and the Cultural Center, it was necessary to either move them back from Woodward or remove some of the structure that faced Woodward. Most of these structures now appear somewhat different from what the architect originally designed.
The Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue are listed below, along with their address, the date of construction and the architect. Quite a few of the religious structures have changed names or denominations thus several names are listed for some of these structures.
Cathedral Church of St. Paul — 4800 Woodward at Hancock, 1913, Ralph Adam Cram, English Gothic
Catherdal of the Most Blessed Sacrament — 9844-9854 Woodward, 1919, Henry Walsh, Neo Gothic
Central United Methodist — 23 East Adams at Woodward, 1867, Gordon Lloyd, Gothic Revival
Central Woodward Christian/Little Rock Baptist — 9000 Woodward, 1928, George Mason and Co., Modern Gothic
First Baptist Church of Detroit/ People's Community Church — 8501 Woodward at Pingree, 1910, Guy J. Vinton, Gothic
First Congregational Church — 33 Forest at Woodward, 1891. John Faxon, Richardsonian Romanesque.
First Presbyterian Church/Ecumenical Theological Seminary — 2930 Woodward, 1889, George Mason and Zachariah Rice, Richardsonian Romanesque.
First Unitarian Church/Resurrection Promise Church — 2870 Woodward at Edmund Place, 1890, John Donaldson and Henry J. Meier, Richardsonain Romanesque.
First United Methodist Church/Soul Harvest Ministries — 16300 Woodward at Church, Highland Park. 1917. William N. Hunter, Arts and Crafts Gothic/
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church/Prayer Temple of Love — 12375 Woodward, Highland Park, 1929, J. Adam Fichter, Neo Gothic
Highland Park Presbyterian/Park United Presbyterian — 14 Cortland at Woodward, Highland Park, 1911, Sidney Badgley and William Nicklas, Tudor Gothic.
Mariner’s Church — East Jefferson at Randolph ( originally located at the intersection of East Jefferson and Woodward) 1849, Calvin N. Otis, Perpendicular Gothic.
Metropolitan United Methodist — 8000 Woodward at Philadelphia, 1926, William N. E. Hunter, English Gothic
North Woodward Avenue Congregational Church/St. John’s Christian Methodist Church — 8715 Woodward at Blaine, 1911, Hugh B. Clement, Neo-Gothic
St. John’s Episcopal Church — 2326 Woodward at the Fisher Freeway, 1861; Albert and Octavius Jordan, Victorian Gothic
St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church/ Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church — 5930 Woodward at the Edsel Ford Expressway, 1896, William Malcomson and William Higginbotham, Ricardsonian Romanesque.
St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church/St. Matthew-St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church — 8850 Woodward at Holbrook, 1926, James Nettleton, English Gothic
Temple Beth-El/Bonstelle Theater — 3424 Woodward, 1902, George Mason and Albert Kahn, Beaux Arts Classical
Temple Beth El/Lighthouse Cathedral 8801 Woodward at Gladstone, 1926, Albert Kahn, Classical
Trinity United Methodist Church/New Mount Mariah Baptist Church — 13100 Woodward at Buena Vista, Highland Park, 1923 George Mason, Neo Gothic
Woodward Avenue Presbyterian — 8601 Woodward at Blaine, 1911, Sidney Badgley, Gothic Revival
Two churches formerly included in the Religious Structure of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource were razed:
There are two other churches that merit consideration for this
Thematic Resource. Catholics in Detroit began to build St. Patrick's
the corner of John R and
Adelaide in 1860 with Octavius Jordan and Anderson as architects. The church
was completed in 1862 and then expanded and remodeled in 1871 so that it would seat
1,200. This structure was only one block from Woodward in Brush
Park. In 1973,
this church was closed and St. Patrick's parish moved into the former
Chapel of St. Theresa nearby on Parsons Street. In May, 1993 the abandoned St. Patrick's
church burned to the ground.
The Victorian Gothic Woodward Avenue Baptist Church at 2464 Woodward at the intersection with Winder opened on January 19, 1887. It was designed by Detroit architect
Mortimer Smith. It was razed in 1996.
Updated: August, 2011
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