St. Joseph Shrine
St. Joseph Shrine
After initially meeting in a wood-frame church, the congregation relocated in 1873 to a new, Gothic Revival church designed by German-born architect Franz Georg Himpler. The church’s architecture is reminiscent of hallenkirken (hall churches) in Southern Germany. The stained-glass windows behind the main altar are the oldest known Mayer of Munich glass in the United States. By 1883, St. Joseph was the largest German parish in Detroit, with 1,000 families. The growth of the congregation facilitated the expansion of the church, including the construction of a 200-foot steeple in 1892, which was the tallest structure in Detroit when built.
The future of St. Joseph Shrine was uncertain by the late 20th century, but a new era began with the arrival of the Institute of Christ the King in 2016. The Institute has rejuvenated the church’s historical tradition “as a center for sacred music” and activated the church buildings for community usage. A food pantry serving over 100 families operates out of the guest house; receptions and community events are hosted in the social hall; and youth tutoring programs are based out of the rectory basement. The church also is open daily for public tours. Through space sharing, St. Joseph Shrine has become “an active and integral part of Detroit’s renewal.”
A National Fund grant of $250,000, along with $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, will support the restoration of the church’s exterior stonework, including stone cleaning, structural repairs, and repair of the decorative stone finials. This work is part of the most significant restoration project in the church’s history.
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Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez