Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

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Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church Complex
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is located in Michigan
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is located in the United States
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
Location1345 Gratiot Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates42°20′34″N 83°2′23″W / 42.34278°N 83.03972°W / 42.34278; -83.03972Coordinates: 42°20′34″N 83°2′23″W / 42.34278°N 83.03972°W / 42.34278; -83.03972
ArchitectBernard C. Wetzel, W. E. N. Hunter
Architectural styleGothic Revival, Tudor Revival[2]
NRHP reference #83000897[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 10, 1983
Designated MSHSApril 24, 1981[3]

The Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is a church located in downtown Detroit, Michigan. It occupies the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church complex, located at 1345 Gratiot Avenue. It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1981[3] and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[1] Its current pastor is Rev. Darryl L. Andrzejewski.[4][5]


The Trinity congregation was formed in 1850, when members of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, a German-speaking congregation, broke from the main body following the excommunication of another member.[6] Services were first held in the chapel of Christ Episcopal Church, located at the corner of Jefferson and Hastings.[6] Soon, the congregation bought the chapel of the Western Seaman's Friend Society of Woodbridge Street, and moved it to Rivard and Larned. This building quickly proved too small, the congregation built a new brick church at Gratiot and Rivard in 1866.[6] This area, surrounding Eastern Market, was at the time home to a large German population and a natural fit for Trinity.[6]

Around this time, many schools, missions, and other congregations were begun by Trinity throughout the region. In total, 132 Lutheran parishes in southeast Michigan can be traced to Trinity.[6] In 1905, the congregation built a new school and social hall near the church. However, the community around Trinity soon changed as families left the downtown area, and the flow of new German immigrants stopped.[6] Trinity began offering English services in addition to those in German.[7]

In the late 1920s, Trinity began considering renovation of its 1866 structure.[7] However, congregant Charles Gauss stepped forward and offered to finance the building of a new church.[6] The old church was demolished, and the cornerstone of the current church was laid in 1929 with the dedication held on February 15, 1931.[8]

After World War II, the population of downtown Detroit began moving in droves to the suburbs, and many Detroit churches, including Trinity, lost membership. However, then-pastor Gilbert Theodore Otte remained firm in keeping the church in the downtown area.[6] The city of Detroit recognized the 1931 church structure for its historical significance in 1979, by the state of Michigan in 1982, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[8][7]

Membership, however, declined, with only 112 church members in 1981.[8] In 1983, Rev. David Eberhard became pastor, a post he would hold until 2015, and instituted additional programs that helped triple membership in five years.[4][8] The church continues to be a gathering place for Detroit Lutherans, with over 2100 members in 2012.[9] Today the parish operates under the Historic Trinity name under the umbrella of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.[10]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Hill, Eric J.; Gallagher, John (2003). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-0814331200.
  3. ^ a b "Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church Complex". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  4. ^ a b "Rev. Dr. David Eberhard 1934-2016". Historic Trinity Lutheran Church. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "Who We Are". Historic Trinity Lutheran Church. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Our History". HistoricTrinity.org. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  7. ^ a b c "Trinity Lutheran Church Historic District" (PDF). City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  8. ^ a b c d "Historic Trinity Historical Timeline". HistoricTrinity.org. 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  9. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (April 8, 2012). "Detroit's historic churches still thriving, helping city". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Welcome to Historic Trinity". HistoricTrinity.org. Retrieved 2011-04-21.

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