National Register of Historic Places Inventory - First United Methodist Church of Highland Park

Creator: United States Department of the Interior National Park Service
Subjects: Historic Designation, Corporate Records
Description: Description of interior and exterior religious sculptures of First United Methodist Church of Highland Park. Located at 16300 Woodward Avenue at Church in Highland Park, Michigan.
Format: Text/jpg
Original Format: Other
Language: English
Rights Management: First United Methodist Church of Highland Park
Contributing Institution:
Contributor: Carlton Rolle
National Register of Historic Places Inventory - First United Methodist Church of Highland ParkNational Register of Historic Places Inventory - First United Methodist Church of Highland Park
Transcript: The structure, measuring 108 feet in length and 95 feet in width, is located on the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Church Street in Highland Park. It is a red brick, limestone-trimmed, Arts and Crafts-influenced, Gothic-style, gable-roofed church built in 1916-17. The principal elevations face Woodward Avenue and Church Street. The Woodward Avenue side is a three-story, gabled composition with banks of multi-paned leaded windows at three levels unified by projecting brick piers with limestone detailing. The windows at the main floor and balcony levels are enframed by brick, compound, pointed arches.

The Church Street side is the entrance elevation. Two bays of Gothic arched windows surmounted by gabled dormers and a tall, square, flat-roofed corner tower with a louvered belfry complete the composition. The main entrance is sheltered by a broad arch in the base of the tower. Ornamental brickwork, including paneling, chevrons, soldier courses, check work, and various types of coursing enliven, the exterior.

The interior subscribes to a modified Akron Plan with a two-story high central space with sloping floor and theater-type seating surrounded by two tiers of perimeter overflow seating or classrooms. Originally the perimeter spaces could be closed off from the church by means of oak folding doors, but these have been removed. The main space is brightly lit by means of the tinted, leaded glass windows and a large, square skylight (now closed to the outside) in the center of the gambrel ceiling. The raised sanctuary is paneled in dark oak and has a pitched beamed ceiling. The carved wood altar, lectern, and organ are stained to match the paneling. The church's only stained glass window - a tripartite, arabesque patterned composition - is centered over the altar.

Throughout the church are tiled floors, arts and crafts style oak woodwork, and tapestry brick wainscoting inset with pewabic tiles.

Specific dates: 1916-17
Architect: William E. N. Hunter of Detroit

First United Methodist is the oldest Protestant church in Highland Park. Originating as an interdenominational mission in 1868, the church lost membership in the 1880s, and the mission became an Episcopal chapel in 1885. The Episcopalians sold the Gothic frame chapel to the Methodists for $1.00 and an assumption of the church debt in 1892. Renamed the Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, the church received financial support from Michigan Senator Thomas Palmer and retired Great Lakes sea captain Thomas Stevens which enabled the construction of the present Arts and Crafts, Gothic structure, built in 1916-17. In 1956, the original frame Gothic building behind the present stone church was razed and replaced by a contemporary educational building. The 1916-17 church is notable as an unusual, Arts and Crafts-influenced, church building and as a major work by W. E. N. Hunter, a leading early twentieth- century, Michigan, church architect.