Encyclopedia Of Detroit

St. Aloysius Catholic Church

The first St. Aloysius church building was dedicated on January 13, 1861, as the Westminster Presbyterian Church. It was purchased in the spring of 1873 by Detroit Bishop Casper Borgess. The first Catholic service was held on August 24, 1873, when the church took the name of St. Aloysius. It served as the temporary cathedral from 1877 to 1890. In 1926, the architectural firm of Donaldson and Meier designed the adjacent Chancery Building to house the administration office of the Archdiocese of Detroit. In 1930, the church was razed to build a larger structure. To remain at the same location but maximize the urban lot space, a unique triple tiered design was developed by the same architects. On October 12, 1930, the new St. Aloysius Church was dedicated.

St. Aloysius is constructed of solid granite and stone in French and Italian Romanesque styles. The church features three levels: the balcony, main and lower levels, with altars on the main and lower levels. The unique seating arrangement allows all worshippers on each of the three separate levels of the church to see and hear the priest officiating at the permanent altar on the main level. It also allows the main and lower levels to be used separately if needed. The altar and communion rail on the lower level and the sanctuary lamp on the main level are from the first St. Aloysius church.

The Stations of the Cross on the main level of the church are of pure Carrara marble, carved by the Italian sculptor Salvatore Roni. The large upper section of the sanctuary wall features an image of Christ the Good Shepherd set against a gold mosaic. In 1973, several pews were removed from the balcony to accommodate the new pipe organ built and installed by Gabriel Kney.

In 1992, the administration of the church passed from the hands of diocesan priests to Franciscan friars. In 2014, the adjacent building known as the Archdiocese of Detroit's chancery building, was sold to developers and plans were made to move the archdiocese's headquarters to a renovated Capitol Park building on State Street. The move was completed in February 2015.



St. Aloysius Exterior, c.1950 – 2014.003.234

St. Aloysius Interior, c.1930 – 2012.020.052

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