As Detroit became an industrial metropolis in the decades after the Civil War, the settled area spread to the southwest from downtown. In 1888, a Sabbath school was established in this area affiliated with Detroit’s Presbyterian Alliance. Shortly thereafter, the group organizing the Sabbath school formed a congregation with the name Baker Street Presbyterian. At that time, the street we know today as Bagley bore the name Baker. The name was changed to honor John Bagley, the Detroit entrepreneur and Republican politician who served as Michigan’s governor from 1873 to 1877. Early in the 1890s, the congregation purchased land at the corner of West Grand and Porter—the site of the church you see pictured above. In 1892 or so, Fort Street Presbyterian donated $8,000 for the construction of a chapel on this site. When the cornerstone was laid in 1892, the congregation adopted the name Immanuel Church. I believe that this chapel is the structure to the right, the church building closest to the Detroit River. It was designed by Stanley Rose Badgley and William H. Nicklas, a team of architects from Cleveland who were responsible for about two dozen Protestant Churches stretching from South Paris Maine in the east to Calgary in the west. Two of the churches in the National Register’s Religious Structures of Woodward Avenue Thematic Resource were designed by Badgley and Nicklas: Highland Park Presbyterian(1911) and Woodward Avenue Presbyterian (1911).
I do not know for certain who designed the larger church building near the actual intersection of Porter and West Grand. Nor do I know when it was constructed. I have seen both 1902 and 1912 as dates. I presume that it was designed by Badgley and Nicklas since they were productive at this time.
It is a Richardsonian Romanesque church. It seems as if the architects must have been paid by the number of different elements they added to the building. As you look at the building, you see a red brick church with an extensive use of stone to convey, perhaps, a sense of weight and importance. There are short towers, irregular windows, broad roof planes, a short fenestrated conical tower, and a square tower with a pyramidal roof. There is extensive foliated decoration throughout. This style of Richardsonian architecture did not persist for long into the Twentieth Century.
If you drive the complete semi-circle that Grand Boulevard sketches at it goes from Belle Isle in the north to Riverview Park in the south, you see very many architectural interesting and/or historic church. There is Church of the Messiah that Calvin Otis designed in 1852. To be accurate it was moved to its present site about 110 years ago but that is long enough for it to be associated with Grand Boulevard. There is Church of the Covenant (1907), a church that is the key unit in a City of Detroit Designated Historic District. And then, closer to the New Center area, you find St. Philips which was the first Lutheran Church established of African Americans in the era when Jim Crow was the norm in many denomination. Also near New Center is the former Bethel Evangelical (Mildner and Eisen, 1921), a church that was built when Detroit’s most famous theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, served as pastor. Closer to the Detroit River on the west side is the small but very impressive Messiah Church (Spier and Rohns, 1902) at West Grand and Toledo, a congregation that and still ministers to local residents. Then there is the very large Immanuel Presbyterian that, one hundred and twenty years after its opening, still functions as a church.
I do not know when the Presbyterians moved away from this impressive church. I believe that the first congregation to use this church after the Presbyterians was Aijalon Missionary Baptist. After some time, I think they moved to a location on Beachwood Street in Detroit. The church is currently the home of the New Deliverance Center.
Date of construction of the chapel: 1893
Architect: Sidney Rose Bagdley and William Nicklas
Use in 2013: Church
Website for the New Deliverance Center: http://www.deliverancecenter.net/index.php?p=1_3_Services-Schedule
City of Detroit Designated Historic District: This church is located with the Hubbard-Richard Historic District.
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph: Ren Farley; October, 2013
Description prepared: March, 2013
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