Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church

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Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church Complex
Ste Anne de Detroit.jpg
Location 1000 Ste. Anne Street
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°19′14.83″N 83°4′36.16″W / 42.3207861°N 83.0767111°W / 42.3207861; -83.0767111Coordinates: 42°19′14.83″N 83°4′36.16″W / 42.3207861°N 83.0767111°W / 42.3207861; -83.0767111
Built 1887
Architect Léon Coquard
Architectural style Classical Revival, Late Gothic Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 76001040[1]
Added to NRHP June 03, 1976

Ste. Anne de Détroit (Sainte-Anne-de-Détroit), founded July 26, 1701,[2] is the second oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in the United States.[3][4][5] The current Gothic Revival cathedral styled church, built in 1886, is located at 1000 Ste. Anne Street in Detroit, Michigan, near the Richard-Hubbard neighborhood area, the Ambassador Bridge, and the Michigan Central Station. Historically, the parish community has occupied eight different buildings. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.[1] The main entry to the Church faces a grand tree-lined, brick paved plaza. The present parish is largely Hispanic.


Ste. Anne's church was the first building constructed in Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, which later grew into the city of Detroit. Cadillac and French settlers arrived at the bank of the Detroit River on July 24, 1701. Construction began on a church on July 26, 1701, the feast day of Saint Anne (sainte Anne). The parish was founded and named by the settlers in honor of the patron of France, Saint Anne, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Nicholas Constantine del Halle, a Franciscan, and François Vaillant, a Jesuit, were the two priests who accompanied the group. Vaillant returned east in the fall.[4][5]

Native Americans set the church on fire in 1703, witch destroyed part of the fort including the church, the rectory and the baptismal records. A new church building was built in 1704 and the oldest surviving church records date to this time with the first record on February 2, 1704 being the baptism of a child born to Cadillac.

Father del Halle was kidnapped by Native Americans and, after his release, as he walked back to the fort, he was shot and killed by an Indian. His remains were buried under the altar and have been moved four times to new church buildings since.

Father Chérubin Deniau began work on a larger church in 1708. This church was outside the palisade and was burned in 1714 by the settlers during a Native American attack as they feared it would offer cover to the attackers.

The parish did not have a church building for many years after this although one might have been built by Father Bonaventure Liénard, who was priest there between 1722-1754. Father Simple Bocquet began a new church building in 1755, within a year after he arrived. Bocquet stayed nearly 30 years during which time Detroit passed from French to British ownership and then to American. An Anglican wedding is even recorded in the Catholic Church records during this period.

Father Gabriel Richard arrived at Ste. Anne's in 1796. While the local priest, he helped start the school that evolved into the University of Michigan, started primary schools for white boys and girls as well as for Indians, as a territorial representative to U.S. Congress helped establish a road-building project that connected Detroit and Chicago, and brought the first printing press to Michigan which printed the first Michigan newspaper. After his death in 1832, Richard was interred under the altar of Ste. Anne's.

In 1805, most of Detroit including the church was destroyed in an accidental fire. A new building was not begun until 1818 and was not completed until 1828. This church was at a new location outside the grounds of the old fort and was designed by Leon Coquard, a parishioner. In 1833, Ste. Anne's was designated as the cathedral for the new diocese of Detroit; it served in this role until 1848, when coadjutor bishop Peter Paul Lefevere moved the bishop's throne to St. Peter's Cathedral, today's Saints Peter and Paul Church. Around that time the old St-Ann's Registers were stolen. They are no longer freely and easily accessible to the public, although still in existence. They contain precious information about the founders and history of Detroit and Michigan, which should be in the public domain.

In 1817, many of the remains in the old cemetery were moved to the new Ste. Anne's. In the 1860s, many were again moved to Mount Elliott Cemetery, including the remains of Colonel Jean François Hamtramck. In the 1860s, the 1818 church building was demolished with the furnishings and even the cornerstone split between the new Ste. Anne's and the new parish of St. Joachim, named after Ste. Anne's husband.


The church nave

Architects Léon Conquard and Alert E. French designed Ste. Anne de Détroit Catholic Church (1887) in the Gothic Revival style with flying buttresses, displaying the French influence. The Church faces a landscaped grand brick plaza and the main entrance on the north facade includes four gargoyles. Ste. Anne's displays the oldest stained glass in the city of Detroit.[6] Ste. Anne's is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4][5]

The 1818 church altar and Richard's remains are installed in a side chapel of the present Church. Other pieces of the 1818 church installed in the 1886 one include the communion rail, statue of Ste. Anne and the church bell.

Both parishes continued French traditions. Increased immigration and housing changes made Ste. Anne's into a primarily Irish parish by the 1920s, and soon thereafter a Hispanic one. The first sermon in Spanish was given in 1940; the last sermon in French in 1942. A Spanish-speaking priest was assigned in 1946. The parish remains largely Hispanic.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ Ste. Anne de Detroit History
  3. ^ Archdiocese of Detroit
  4. ^ a b c d Woodford, Arthur M. (2001). This is Detroit 1701–2001. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2914-4. , p. 19.
  5. ^ a b c d Poremba, David Lee (2001). Detroit in Its World Setting (timeline). Wayne State University. ISBN 0-8143-2870-9. , p. 7.
  6. ^ Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Archdiocese of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0797-0. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2004). Catholic Churches of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3235-5. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Make Straight the Path: A 300 Year Pilgrimage Archdiocese of Detroit. Editions du Signe. ISBN 2-7468-0145-0. 
  • Tentler, Leslie Woodcock with forward by Edmund Cardinal Szoka (1992). Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2106-2. 
  • Tutag, Nola Huse with Lucy Hamilton (1988). Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1875-4. 

External links[edit]