Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church

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Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church
Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Church façade from Woodward
Location 8501 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°22′40.52″N 83°4′46″W / 42.3779222°N 83.07944°W / 42.3779222; -83.07944Coordinates: 42°22′40.52″N 83°4′46″W / 42.3779222°N 83.07944°W / 42.3779222; -83.07944
Built 1911
Architect Sidney Badgley
Architectural style Late Gothic Revival
MPS Religious Structures of Woodward Ave. TR
NRHP Reference # 82002916[1]
Added to NRHP August 3, 1982

The Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church is a church located at 8501 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Built in 1911 in the Gothic Revival style, the architect was Sidney Badgley. It was used for some time as the Abyssinia Church of God in Christ.[2] The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[1]


By 1908, the Presbyterians in Detroit recognized the need for a church to serve congregants located in what was then the "north" Woodward area.[3] Meetings were held and the congregation was organized by the presbytery on March 17, 1908.[4] The church had 163 members.

Rev. Sherman L. Divine was installed as the congregation's first minister, and he embarked on an ambitious building project, envisioning a sanctuary that would cost about $100,000.[4] The church enlisted new members and new funding. Tracy and Katherine McGregor donated a lot along Woodward, and the cornerstone for the church was laid on January 1, 1910.[3] Construction began, based on a design by Sidney Rose Badgley. The church was dedicated on June 23 of the next year.

Membership surpassed 2200 by 1921. However, by the 1950s, many members were leaving Detroit for the northern suburbs.[4] Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church began to struggle, with fewer than 1000 members in 1961 and only 404 in 1971. In 1981, Woodward Avenue Presbyterian merged with Covenant Church. The combined churches still had fewer than 500 members, and by 1991 there were only 210. In 1993, the congregation split from the Presbyterian church, eventually becoming the Abyssinia Interdenominational Church. The church closed on the death of the pastor in 2005.

Until the spring of 2010, Woodward Avenue Presbyterian was abandoned, and has fallen into disrepair. More recently the property has been purchased by a group looking to convert the building into a homeless shelter.[5]


Woodward Avenue Presbyterian is an English Gothic-style church, faced with rough rock and trimmed with a contrasting limestone, and measuring 184 feet long by 104 feet wide.[3] The Woodward Avenue façade boasts a massive carved-stone entrance with a traceried stained glass window set above; two square towers flank the center entrance. Along the side, gabled transepts contain full-height traceried windows. A two-story educational wing, built at the same time as the main church building, abuts the rear.[3] A lantern dome, raised above the roofline, lights the auditorium.[6]



  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Abyssinia Church of God in Christ from Model D
  3. ^ a b c d "Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church". State of Michigan. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Dan Austin. "Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church". HistoricDetroit.org. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church from Detroiturbex.com
  6. ^ Ren Farley. "Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church/ Abyssinia Interdenominational Church". Detroit1701.org. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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. 

External links[edit]