Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Little Rock Baptist Church

Little Rock Baptist Church is one of the last formal Gothic Churches built in Detroit in the twentieth century.  The L-shaped, Gothic themed church housed Presbyterian and Baptist denominations, dating back to 1928.  Wanting to create a denomination that was distinct from Presbyterian and Baptist, Disciples of Christ, also known as The Christian Church, was founded in 1830.  In 1846, Rev. William Nay organized his own Disciples of Christ congregation in Detroit.  His congregation continued to grow, giving the worshippers the resources to build a church downtown.  Of his parishioners, Ella Ford and Philip Gray were the wealthiest and were very influential in donating funds to erect a complex church, known as the Central Woodward Christian Church.  In 1890, George Mason was commissioned to design the church that stands today.  The automobile boom of the 1900s allowed Rev. Nay’s parishioners’ more prosperity and many of his followers migrated to suburban areas.  This fast migration meant that fewer followers lived in the neighboring area.  The Central Woodward Christian Church built a new house of worship in Troy and sold the holy quarters to Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church in 1978.

Indiana Limestone, copper trim, and illustrious stained windows distinguishes Little Rock Baptist Church from other churches in the area.  Two of the original windows designed by A. Kay Herbert are still intact.  The stained glass windows don’t depict a messiah or a heavenly father; the windows depict prominent African American reverends as well as civil rights activists.  The rest of the windows were replaced gradually through several fundraisers.  Daniel Cicchelli and Reverend Holley designed each panel of the windows to be added, and the construction was executed by Anchor Glass Studios.  In 1982, Little Rock Baptist Church was added to the National Registry of Historical Sites.