Saints Peter and Paul Church (Detroit)
Saints Peter and Paul Church
Church in 2008
|Location||629 East Jefferson Avenue
|Architect||Francis Letouneau, Peter Kindenkins|
|Architectural style||Romanesque Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||71000431|
|Added to NRHP||September 03, 1971|
|Designated MSHS||January 22, 1971|
Saints Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic church located at 629 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. It is the oldest existing church in the city of Detroit, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1971.
In 1844, Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere, who served as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Detroit, began construction on Saints Peter and Paul Church; the cornerstone is dated June 29, 1844. Francis Letourneau drew the plans, and Peter Kindenkens supervised the construction. Construction was completed over four years, as the bishop paid for each stage of construction with cash. The church was consecrated on June 29, 1848 and Bishop Lefevere used the church as his cathedral until his death in 1869. The original parishioners were predominantly Irish, with some French families attending.
Following Lefevere's death, Caspar Borgess, the second Bishop of Detroit, used the church as his cathedral until 1877, when he gave the title to the building to the Jesuit Order with the intention of starting Detroit's first Catholic college. The Jesuit college eventually became the University of Detroit-Mercy, and UDM's law school still occupies the building adjacent to the church.
The church was altered in 1879 and 1882, completely renovated in 1892, and remodeled again in 1911. A chapel was added to the rear of the building in 1918. Although these alterations changed the look of the church, the original plan has been substantially preserved. The church is still in use, offering daily masses.
Saints Peter and Paul Church is a basilica-style church, made with walls of painted brick. The front façade is gabled and topped by a short square cupola. The cupola was originally intended to support a tall spire, which was never built. There is a central entrance pavilion, set between arched windows and Ionic pilasters. The pilasters continue along the side, separating the side elevation into seven bays with tall, rounded arch windows. A heavy frieze conceals the sloping roof.
The interior of the church features hand carved oak confessionals, a barrel vaulted ceiling painted with frescoes, and an extraordinary Carrara marble altar designed by Gustave Adolph Mueller. These details were added during later renovations; the organ case is the only surviving original element.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Saints Peter and Paul Church "Saints Peter and Paul Church". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. January 22, 1971. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- "History". Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- "Saints Peter and Paul Church" (PDF). City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- "Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church". Detroit1701.org. December 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
- Hill, Eric J.; Gallagher, John; American Institute of Architects Detroit Chapter (2002). AIA Detroit. Wayne State University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
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