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Christ Church

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1861–1863, Gordon W. Lloyd; 1902 chancel lengthened; 2006–2008 renovation and expansion of campus, Gunn Levine. 960 E. Jefferson Ave.

This church is Detroit's oldest Protestant church remaining on its original site. The church was founded in 1845 when Detroit's existing Episcopal church proved too small to house its congregation. In 1846 a wooden church, reportedly designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, was consecrated on this site. The Reverend William N. Lyster, one of Michigan's most prominent early clergymen, served as its first rector. In 1860 a stone chapel with bell-cote, which stands at the rear of the present church facing Woodbridge Street, was erected, and the wooden church torn down. Work then began on the present building. In 2006–2008 five historic buildings were connected by masonry and glass corridors, creating light interior spaces and a new primary entrance.

Christ Church is the supreme expression of the nineteenth-century Ecclesiological movement, which spelled out specific liturgical and symbolic reasons for the manner in which a church was conceived and offered advice to builders. Well-known Detroit church architect Lloyd—architect of the famous Whitney House ( WN58)—designed Christ Church. This Gothic Revival church has a Latin cross plan and is constructed of rock-faced limestone ashlar trimmed with pale grayish-yellow sandstone. At the northwest facade corner is a four-stage tower with an arcaded belfry, a wedge-shaped gable roof, and pinnacles, and at the northeast corner, paired crocketed pinnacles surmount the buttresses. The lofty roof of the single-aisled nave is supported by hammer-beam trusses. The chancel has a simple ribbed vault. Using rich woods, primarily butternut, the interior is the most elaborately finished of the city's nineteenth-century Gothic Revival churches. Two of its many stained glass windows, Resurrection Angel (1915) and St. Elizabeth of Hungary (c. 1910), are by Tiffany Studios.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


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Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Christ 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, 103-103.

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