National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Cathedral Church of St. Paul Complex
Creator: United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service
Subjects: Historic Designation, Corporate Records
Description: Description of the interior and exterior religious structures of Cathedral Church of St. Paul Complex. Located at 4300 Woodward Avenue at Hancock in Detroit, Michigan.
Original Format: Other
Rights Management: Cathedral Church of St. Paul Complex
Contributor: Carlton Rolle
Transcript: Located on the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Hancock Street, St. Paul's Cathedral is a smooth-limestone-clad, Neo-Gothic-style structure of massive proportions built in 1908-1911. One of the first of the archaeologically correct English Gothic style churches in Detroit, it had a great influence on subsequent ecclesiastical structures constructed in the city. The tall, narrow, gabled facade contains a recessed entrance enframed by compound moldings and surmounted by a large rose window. The ponderous flanking buttresses terminate in pinnacled turrets. The buttressed, four-bay, side elevations contain the lancet arched clerestory windows of the nave, which is braced with flying buttresses above the lower side aisles. The nave terminates in gabled, buttressed transepts. Over the crossing is the square, stone base of a tower that was never built.
The interior of St. Paul's is of austere Early English Gothic design. Simple Gothic arches springing from massive round columns support the stained glass clerestory window wall of the nave. A pitched, beamed, wooden ceiling roofs the nave. Massive stone vaults support the crossing tower. A chapel occupies the south transept. The raised sanctuary is paneled in oak with a massive, intricately carved, wood reredos. The focal point of the sanctuary is the bank of five, attenuated, lancet-arched, stained glass windows in the end wall. An elaborately carved, oak, raised pulpit with sounding board stands at the front of the sanctuary, which is lined with high-backed choir stall seats.
Adjacent to the rear and north side of the cathedral is the L-shaped parish house built in 1959. This is a two-story, flat-roofed, limestone structure in the Gothic style with banks of casement windows and detailing designed to harmonize with the Cathedral. The parish house is decorated in the modern style. It contains meeting rooms, class rooms and offices as well as a chapel, kitchen, and various service rooms.
Specific dates: 1908 - 1911
St. Paul's Parish, founded in 1824, is the pioneer Episcopal parish in Michigan. The present building, the congregation's third, was built between 1908 and 1911 and dedicated on May 27, 1911. Designed by the well-known Neo-Gothic Revival architect Ralph Adams Cram, the cathedral came into being during the period when the Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson firm was acquiring its national reputation for its churches. St. Paul's is a large and important example of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson's experimentation with Gothic.