Historic Structures

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Detroit Michigan

Date added: October 28, 2013 Categories: Michigan Church Romanesque Revival

The Immaculate Conception Church is significant for its service as a spiritual center for the area's Polish population. The Church was founded in 1919 to accommodate the overflow from St. Hyacinth, a Catholic Church located nine blocks south on McDougall Avenue. In 1920 the parish school was built. The parish first congregated in a converted grocery store. Construction was completed on the Immaculate Conception Church in 1928, when the parish represented 500 families. At that time, over 100 children attended the parish school. In 1970 the Church had a membership of over 500 parishoners. Immaculate Conception served about 40% of the area's Polish community, and a large Albanian population as well. In 1969 the Detroit Common Council recognized Immaculate Conception's "tremendous community service to all the people of Detroit" as a "stabilizing force."

The Immaculate Conception Church displays a subtle Romanesque Revival architectural style. The rounded arches of the facade and the square flanking towers are two features of the Romanesque Revival style. String courses of glazed tile ornamentation encompass the dark red integuments of brick, and emphasize the structure's basic, rectangular shape. Having been constructed in the 1920's, Immaculate Conception represents a later example of the Romanesque = Revival movement. The north and east sides of the building encroach immediately upon Trombly Avenue and Moran Street, separated only by a conventional sidewalk. To the south, the Church is bounded by an alleyway, beyond which lies the church parking lot and garage. To the west is the church rectory.

The structure's facade exhibits exquisite simplicity. The steps leading to the archways are of anachronistic concrete construction. Above the archways are four glazed tile decorations and a large circular window. Resting at the point of the gable is a small crucifix. To the sides of the facade are two square towers with glazed tile bell housings.

Adjacent to each tower are ancillary structures, each with rounded arched windows overlooking Moran Street. There are glazed tile string courses following the roofline and the center of the ancillary structures. A row of fire windows near the top of these ancillary structures have been sealed with brick(s). Two rounded-arched windows are set central to the ancillary rooms. Windows at the base of these structures now employ glass block.

Near the roofline, on the north and south sides of the nave, are a series of rounded-arched windows. Below this, on each side, extensions to the nave exhibit a row of six rectangular windows. Below this, at the base of the building, are six more windows, of which four have been sealed with brick.

At the rear stands a symmetrical gabled section perpendicular to the church's nave. At the south end of this structure there is a chimney which bissects the face. Also, on this face there are five windows and a doorway. The west side of this structure contains eighteen windows, most of which are arched. Three rectangular windows arise out of the sloping roof. Also, on the west side, there is a main doorway. On the north side of this structure there are six pairs of windows. The four windows at the base have had glass block installed.

The connection between the nave and the rear structure provides two doorways. The doorway on the south side appears to have been added later.

The prodigiously elaborate interior appears to reflect the decorative tradition in Poland. Colorful tile flooring, dark-stained pews, and stencilled, gold-leafed plastering all combine to form a unique richness. Light emanates from clerestory windows and stained and painted glass windows along the aisle, which are complemented by hanging electrical lamps. A shallow baldachino, in the altar, is supported by two carved angels. The chancel walls are abundantly decorated with florid paintings and architectural panels of bandwork, cartouches and garlands.

The Immaculate Conception Church is noteworthy for its Romanesque Revival Design. This style of architecture was widely employed and appreciated in Eastern Europe during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The rich superfluity of the interior is most significant. The architectural style of the Immaculate Conception Church epitomized the Polish immigrant community's respect for their cultural heritage.

The church was demolished on July 17th, 1981.