Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource

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Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue TR
Central United Methodist Church - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Central United Methodist Church from across Woodward
Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource is located in Michigan
Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource
Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource is located in the US
Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource
Location Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°22′50″N 83°4′46″W / 42.38056°N 83.07944°W / 42.38056; -83.07944Coordinates: 42°22′50″N 83°4′46″W / 42.38056°N 83.07944°W / 42.38056; -83.07944
Built 1859–1929
Architect James Anderson, Sidney Rose Badgley, Hugh B. Clement, Ralph A. Cram, C. Howard Crane, Donaldson and Meier, J. Adam Fichter, William E. N. Hunter, Albert Jordan, Albert Kahn, Gordon W. Lloyd, Malcomson & Higginbotham, George D. Mason, James J. Nettleton, William H. Nicklas, Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, Guy J. Vinton, Henry A. Walsh
Architectural style Tudor Revival, Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, Beaux Arts, Classical Revival, Other
MPS Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue TR
NRHP Reference # 82002893 - 82002896, 82002898, 82002899, 82002904, 82002905, 82002906, 82002908, 82002911, 82002912, 82002916, 82002918 - 82002921[1]
Added to NRHP August 3, 1982

The Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource (TR) is a multiple property submission to the National Register of Historic Places which was approved on August 3, 1982. The structures are located on Woodward Avenue in the cities of Detroit and Highland Park, Michigan.


In the early part of the 19th century, residential growth in Detroit occurred primarily east and west of Woodward, along Fort Street and Jefferson Avenue. Woodward Avenue was first developed as a residential district during the Civil War, as the downtown district became more business-oriented. By the turn of the century, Woodward was developed as far north as the present location of Interstate 94 as an upperclass residential section; mansions of society's elite were interspersed with architecturally significant churches. Although only a few of the mansions along Woodward remain (of the handful still extant, the David Whitney House, Col. Frank J. Hecker House, and Samuel L. Smith House are all on the National Register), many of the churches are represented in this TR.[2]

After the turn of the century, and as the automobile expanded the scope of the city, Woodward rapidly changed character from an upscale residential area to a mix of commercial and multiple-family dwellings. Heirs to the 19th century mansions lining Woodward were already ensconced in their own homes in Boston-Edison, Arden Park-East Boston, or Virginia Park, and as the owners of the Woodward properties died, their homes were broken into apartments or razed. As congregants moved northward, more churches were established north of Grand Boulevard to serve people in the area. A string of churches were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s in this area.[2]

In 1909, the Highland Park Ford Plant was completed in Highland Park, and a substantial population increase occurred in that city. More churches were constructed in Highland Park near this time to meet their needs.[2]

In 1935-1936, Woodward was substantially widened just north of downtown Detroit, and nearly every building on the east side of the street between downtown and Forest Avenue was torn down; many of the churches in this TR were required to rebuild their facades. In the 1950s and 60s, most of the rest of the early homes in the area were torn down.[2]


The structures in this TR are diverse in age and architectural style. Broken into age and style, there are:

  • three High Victorian Gothic churches (1859-1887)
  • two Richardson Romanesque structures (with two others already on the Register) (1889-1896)
  • two neo-classical synagogues (1902-1922)
  • five Gothic style, central-plan churches (1909-1926)
  • seven neo-Gothic churches (1908-1930)

However, the structures are unified in that all are of stone (or brick with stone strim) construction. Most structures occupy corner lots, and most contain, in addition to the main church, a parich house, rectory, and/or smaller chapel. All structures sit well back from the streetline, save for those affected by the 1935-36 widening of Woodward.[2]

These structures represent significant work by notable architects. Albert Kahn, who was best known for his concrete-reinforced industrial buildings, designed both of the Temples Beth-El (he was a congregant), as well as a portion of the First Congregational Church. Sidney Rose Badgley designed the Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church as well as the Highland Park Presbyterian Church. The former is an excellent example of Badgley's trademark auditorium church style with steel-framed octagonal lantern dome atop. Ralph A. Cram designed the St. Paul Cathedral, and it is a major work early in the architect's career. Gordon W. Lloyd, who designed the Central United Methodist Church, was one of Michigan's most prominent late 19th century church architects. Likewise, William E. N. Hunter, who designed the Highland Park First United Methodist Church and the Metropolitan United Methodist Church, was one of Michigan's most prominent early 20th century church architects.[2]


The submission includes nineteen architecturally and historically significant structures, stretching over six miles along Woodward Avenue from Grand Circus Park in Detroit to just south of McNichols. The structures included, in order from south to north, are:

Resource Name Also known as Image Address Built City Note
Central United Methodist Church Central United Methodist Church - Detroit Michigan.jpg 23 E. Adams (at Woodward) 1866 Detroit
St. John's Episcopal Church St Johns Episcopal Church Detroit.jpg 2326 Woodward (at Fisher Freeway) 1859 Detroit
Woodward Avenue Baptist Church United House of Jeremiah Woodward Avenue Baptist Church 1899.jpg 2464 Woodward 1886 Detroit Demolished in 1986
First Unitarian Church of Detroit Church of Christ of Detroit First Unitarian Church Detroit 2.jpg 2870 Woodward (at Edmund Place) 1889 Detroit Destroyed by a fire in May 2014
Temple Beth-El Bonstelle Theatre Temple Beth-El Bonstelle Theater.jpg 3424 Woodward 1902 Detroit
Cathedral Church of St. Paul Cathedral Church of Saint Paul.jpg 4800 Woodward (at Hancock) 1908 Detroit
Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church1893.jpg 5930 Woodward (At Edsel Ford Freeway) 1883 Detroit
Metropolitan United Methodist Church Metropolitan United Methodist Church.jpg 8000 Woodward (at Chandler) 1922 Detroit
Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church Abyssinia Church of God in Christ Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church - Detroit Michigan.jpg 8501 Woodward (at Philadelphia) 1908 Detroit
First Baptist Church Peoples Community Church First Baptist Church of Detroit.jpg 8601 Woodward (at Pingree) 1909 Detroit
North Woodward Congregational Church St. John's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church North Woodward Congregational Church.jpg 8715 Woodward (at Blaine) 1911 Detroit
Temple Beth-El Lighthouse Cathedral Temple Beth El Lighthouse Cathedral.jpg 8801 Woodward (at Gladstone) 1921 Detroit
Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church St. Matthew-St. Joseph Episcopal Church St Josephs Episcopal Church.jpg 8850 Woodward (at Holbrook) 1926 Detroit
Central Woodward Christian Church Little Rock Baptist Church Central Woodward Christian Church.jpg 9000 Woodward 1926 Detroit
Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Detroit, MI.jpg 9844-54 Woodward (at Arden Park-Belmont) 1913 Detroit
Highland Park Presbyterian Church Park United Presbyterian Church Highland Park Presbyterian Church.jpg 14 Cortland (at Woodward) 1910 Highland Park
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church Prayer Temple of Love Cathedral Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church - Highland Park Michigan.jpg 12375 Woodward (at Highland) 1929 Highland Park
Trinity United Methodist Church New Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Trinity United Methodist Church - Highland Park Michigan.jpg 13100 Woodward 1922 Highland Park
First United Methodist Church Soul Harvest Ministries First United Methodist Church Highland Park.jpg 16300 Woodward (at Church) 1916 Highland Park

In addition, three other religious structures along Woodward were listed on the National Historic Register before the Religious Structures of Woodward Ave. TR was approved. These three are:

Resource Name Also known as Image Address Built City Note
Mariners' Church Old Mariner Church, Detroit.jpg Jefferson and Randolph 1849 Detroit Added earlier (April 11, 1971)
First Presbyterian Church Ecumenical Theological Seminary First Presbyterian Church Detroit 2.jpg 2930 Woodward 1889 Detroit Added earlier (December 19, 1979)
First Congregational Church First Congregational Church (Detroit, Michigan).jpg 33 Forest (at Woodward) 1891 Detroit Added earlier (July 4, 1979)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Christensen, Robert O.; Vollmert, Leslie J.; Cotman, Charles C. (April 14, 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory — Nomination Form" (PDF).  (Nomination of Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue TR to the National Register of Historic Places.)

External links[edit]