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Articles, thoughts, and op-eds written by Eric Hergenreder on historic buildings, all things photography, the art scene, and stories you won't find on the larger news outlets.

Work Begins on East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church

Work has started on the tattered remains of the church and parish house at the corner of East Grand Boulevard and Gratiot Avenue. Crews have been spotted inside the building a number of times in early January and new boards have been hammered into the collapsed roof. The building was open to the elements for over a decade and a half but has recently been secured. Plans for the building have not been announced, but a for sale sign is still hanging. 

 
 The church in 2015. Photo by  Eric Hergenreder  of eherg.com

The church in 2015. Photo by Eric Hergenreder of eherg.com

 

According to Detroit Urbex, the building was completed in 1910 as Aaron C. Fisher Memorial Methodist-Episcopal Church. Sometime around 1920 the church was renamed East Grand Boulevard Methodist, and the parish house which held classrooms, a basketball court, and a stage was completed in 1926. It is very interesting to see the changes made to the building as the roads widened in the 1930s, depicted in the maps below. There used to be buffer between many of the store fronts on Gratiot Avenue and the street, and homes on East Grand Boulevard used to have larger yards. Now only a sidewalk runs between the church and Gratiot Avenue, and the parish house was picked up off the foundation and moved to accommodate the widening of East Grand Boulevard. The church was finally dissolved in 1985 and was replaced by the Second Unity Full Gospel Baptist Church, which finally called it quits at that location in 2000. It has sat vacant since.

 This map from 1915 shows both Gratiot Avenue and East Grand Boulevard before they were widened. This map also is from before the parish house was built. The Church is still mapped with its original name.

This map from 1915 shows both Gratiot Avenue and East Grand Boulevard before they were widened. This map also is from before the parish house was built. The Church is still mapped with its original name.

 This map from the 1930s shows the widening of Gratiot Avenue. The map also shows the parish house, denoting its pilastered walls, exposed steel trusses, and plastered ceiling. The kitchen that was added is also shown. Note the name change, as well.

This map from the 1930s shows the widening of Gratiot Avenue. The map also shows the parish house, denoting its pilastered walls, exposed steel trusses, and plastered ceiling. The kitchen that was added is also shown. Note the name change, as well.

Not much could be found in terms of who owns the property or what they plan to do with it, but the building is by far one of the most unique in the city. The church features a balcony with auditorium style seating, an organ, and a unique ceiling. The parish house could be rehabbed into a youth community center, with the ability to house sports, theater and music productions, and classes. The building is also only a couple blocks away from the East Grand Boulevard Historic District, a distinction the neighborhood received in 1999. We are going to keep our eyes and ears open for news on this East-Side gem, so check back for updates! 

Special thanks to Felicia Fullwood & Detroit Urbex

Eric Hergenreder