National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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 Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Located on 9344-9854 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan.
Format: Text/jpg
Original Format: Other
Language: English
Rights Management: Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Contributing Institution:
Contributor: Carlton Rolle
National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Cathedral of the Most Blessed SacramentNational Register of Historic Places Inventory – Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Transcript: The Cathedral, measuring 170 feet in length and 105 feet in width, is located on the southeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Belmont. It is a gray limestone, gable-roofed, Gothic-style church built in 1913-15. The symmetrical facade is composed of a central entrance surmounted by a large, traceried, rose window and a pierced parapet screen incorporating life-sized saints statues in Gothic niches. Flanking the entrance pavilion are massive, buttressed, flat-roofed towers with open belfries surmounted by tall, pointed pinnacles. The side elevations are each composed of five bays of large traceried, Gothic windows separated by buttresses terminating in projecting gabled transepts with pinnacled turrets at the corners. The attenuated wood, metal, and stone spire over the crossing is a handsome feature.

The severe Gothic interior has a tall, narrow, vaulted nave, with side aisles, wide transepts containing the choir and a chapel and an elaborate raised sanctuary focusing on the carved high altar, bishop's chairs, and other elaborate carved furnishings. The nave is lit by the huge stained glass clerestory windows.

Adjacent to the Cathedral is the square, 2-story, stone, three-bay, Gothic-style rectory. The central recessed entrance is flanked by a Gothic bay window and a bank of leaded casement windows. The interior is finished in dark oak paneling with carved ornament in the Tudor Gothic style. The numerous fireplaces in the rooms flanking the center hall are expressed on the exterior in the massive Gothic chimney stacks that loom above the parapet-walled, metal, hip roof.

Specific dates: 1913-15, 1951 (Tower addition)
Architect: Henry A. Walsh of Cleveland, Ohio, architect of original building

In 1918, Bishop Michael Gallagher of Grand Rapids was installed as the fifth Roman Catholic Bishop of Detroit. In his nineteen years as bishop (1913-1937), one hundred and five parishes were established, of which thirty-three were ethnic parishes. The parish of the Blessed Sacrament for which this Neo-Gothic limestone church eventually was built had been established in 1906. In 1938, the new bishop, Edward Mooney, made the church the Cathedral of the newly-created Archdiocese of Detroit. Blessed Sacrament Cathedral is one of the most architecturally significant of Detroit's Neo-Gothic churches of the early twentieth century.