National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church
Creator: United States Department of the Interior National Park Service
Subjects: Historic Designation, Corporate Records
Description: Description of the religious interior and exterior structures inside of the Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church. Located at 8501 Woodward Avenue at Philadelphia, Detroit, Michigan.
Original Format: Other
Rights Management: Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church
Contributor: Carlton Rolle
Transcript: The structure is located on the northwest corner of Woodward Avenue at West Philadelphia in Detroit and measuring 184 feet in length and 104 feet in width. Woodward Avenue Presbyterian is a rockfaced, brownstone, modern English Gothic-style church with smooth, contrasting, limestone trim built in 1909-1911. It represents a radical departure in massing and plan from the standard, end-gable-roof-and corner tower Gothic church type. The essentially square, two-story structure is dominated by a tall, octagonal, stone lantern rising from the center of the roof. The symmetrical, Woodward Avenue facade is composed of two, low, square towers flanking a gabled central section containing the massive, carved-stone-enframed entrance and a Gothic-arched, traceried, stained glass window. The side elevations are dominated by the gabled transepts, which contain full height traceried windows. Adjoining the rear of the church is the two-story educational wing which was constructed at the same time as the church. The design depends upon the contrast be¬tween the rough, dark, brownstone walls and the abundant light-colored smooth, limestone English Gothic carving used for the window enframements, the parapets, the gable panels and the portal treatment.
The interior conforms to the Akron Plan auditorium type. Fixed seating arranged in a semi-circle, both on the main floor and in the curving balcony, focuses on a sanctuary platform and adjacent choir area on an interior wall. The basically square, two-story high auditorium is lit by an open lantern in the center of the vaulted ceiling. The well lighted hall contains dark oak woodwork and pews that contrast with the cream colored walls. Painted decoration made to simulate Byzantine mosaics is used sparingly in the sanctuary and choir areas.
Specific dates: 1908-1911
Architects: Sidney Rose Badgley (1859-1917) and William Nicklas (1862-1930) of Cleveland, Ohio
By 1908 Detroit Presbyterians saw the need for a church to serve the-then "north" Woodward area. In September, 1908, Mrs. Tracy McGregor donated the lot on which the present church stands. The cornerstone for the church was set on January 1, 1910 and the completed church dedicated on June 23, 1911. The Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church is significant as a major work of the prominent turn-of-the-century church architect, Sidney Rose Badgley, and is a very fine example of the type of lantern-dome-crowned, auditorium church for which Badgley was best known.