Saints Peter and Paul Church, Detroit, Michigan

Edit profile
Saints Peter and Paul Church, Detroit, Michigan
The Saints Peter And Paul Church is a Roman Catholic church located at 629 East Jefferson Ave in Detroit, Michigan. It is the oldest existing church in the city of Detroit, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1971.

In 1844, Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere, the leader of the Detroit Catholic church, began construction on Saints Peter And Paul Church; the cornerstone is dated June 29, 1844. Francis Letourneau drew the plans, and Peter Kindenkens supervised the construction. Construction was completed over four years, as the Bishop paid for each stage of construction with cash. The church was consecrated on June 29, 1848 and Bishop Lefevere used the church as his cathedral until his death in 1869. The original parishioners were predominantly Irish, with some French families attending. Lefevere's successor, Caspar Borgess, continued to use the church as his cathedral until 1877, when he gave the title to the building to the Jesuit Order with the intention of starting Detroit's first Catholic college. The Jesuit college eventually became the University of Detroit-Mercy, and UDM's law school still occupies the building adjacent to the church. The church was altered in 1879 and 1882, completely renovated in 1892, and remodeled again in 1911. A chapel was added to the rear of the building in 1918. Although these alterations changed the look of the church, the original plan has been substantially preserved. The church is still in use, offering daily masses.

Saints Peter And Paul Church is a basilica-style church, made with walls of painted brick. The front facade is gabled and topped by a short square cupola. The cupola was originally intended to support a tall spire but this spire was never built. There is a central entrance pavilion, set between arched windows and Ionic pilasters. The pilasters continue along the side, separating the side elevation into seven bays with tall, rounded arch windows. A heavy frieze conceals the sloping roof. The interior of the church has hand carved oak confessionals, a barrel vaulted ceiling painted with frescoes, and an extraordinary carerra marble alter designed by Gustave Adolph Mueller. These details were added during later renovations; the organ case is the only surviving original element.