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Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and Parish House

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1929–1931 church, William E. N. Hunter; 1927 community house, Bernard C. Wetzel. 1345 Gratiot Ave.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church serves one of Detroit's oldest German Lutheran congregations and is the mother church of Missouri-Synod Lutheranism in the city. The church was the gift of Charles Gauss (1875–1937), a Detroit wholesale tobacconist and real estate investor, and his wife, Margaret Strehler Gauss (1875–1939). The Gausses had recently profited from the sale of land on the River Rouge to the Ford Motor Company. Noted Detroit church architect Hunter (1858–1947) designed the church in consultation with the Reverend F. R. Webber, secretary of the Lutheran Missouri Synod's Committee on Architecture.

Located on a cramped, triangular lot at a crossroads on the edge of downtown Detroit, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is a large Late Gothic Revival building with a prominent asymmetrical belfry tower. The tower itself soared higher than the Stroh Brewery, then just to the southwest of the church. Hunter called the church a modern adaptation of sixteenth-century “English Gothic Pier and Clerestory Church Architecture.” Thus, the church has a nave and side aisles. The choir and organ are situated in the gallery above the narthex. A triforium provides a passageway over each side aisle. The church is constructed of varicolored granite and Indiana limestone and has elaborately carved and painted interior decoration and stained glass. The carved stonework of the church's interior and exterior are by two important early-twentieth-century Michigan sculptors, Corrado Joseph Parducci and Joseph Jungwirth, and were executed by Bernasconi for the Batchelder-Wasmund Company of Detroit; the intricate wooden narthex and organ screen are by William Ross Company of East Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the reredos was designed and built by the Rambusch Company of New York.

To the east of the church is a three-story, red brick Jacobethan Revival community house trimmed with gray limestone.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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