You are here

St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church

-A A +A
1870–1873, Francis G. Himpler; 1883 tower; 1892 spire; 1907 (1911?) pinnacles. 1800–1828 Jay St.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church is the German daughter parish of St. Mary's Catholic Church ( WN40). As German immigrants, fueled by the Austrian and Hungarian Revolutions of 1848, poured into Detroit's lower east side and along the Gratiot Avenue corridor, the need arose for another parish. A small frame church was constructed in 1856 between Riopelle and Orleans streets. But the continuing migration of Germans out to E. Grand Boulevard and northward in the 1860s precipitated the decision to build a larger church. This ample, steeply gabled and pinnacled Gothic Revival church was designed by Himpler, a German-born architect who studied at the Royal Academy in Berlin and practiced in New York City. He modeled it after German hall churches, in which the nave and aisles are approximately the same height. A three-hundred-foot-tall single tower and spire dominates the neighborhood. The building is clad in rough-faced, gray Trenton limestone trimmed with brown sandstone. Wood carvings imported from Germany and stained glass either imported from Munich and Innsbruck or manufactured in Detroit richly decorate the interior. Five tall slender windows on the east, the centermost with figures of Christ and Peter, were made by Mayer and Company in 1873. Friederichs and Staffin, later Detroit Stained Glass Company, manufactured the geometric designs in red, yellow, and blue to the specification of Himpler. Also by Friederichs and Staffin are The Holy Family with John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (1873) and Good Shepherd Friedland Memorial (1899) windows.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church", [Detroit, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 74-74.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.