St. Mary St. Mary
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Saint Mary's Church Complex
Elm Avenue and M-125 (North Monroe Avenue), Monroe - Monroe County
Property Type brick buildings
Historic Use RELIGION
Current Use RELIGION
Style Gothic Revival
Narrative Description The St. Mary's Church Complex Historic District is located at the corner of Monroe Street and Elm Avenue in a predominantly residential area. The complex comprises four structures including the church, the school, the rectory, and the Brothers of Holy Cross Hall. The church, a stuccoed, stone-and-brick,gable-roofed, Gothic Revival-influenced structure with a projecting, square, central bell tower capped by a louvered wooden belfry, was built between 1835 and 1839. Adjoining the back of the church is a brick, classical style, basilican apse with transepts, built in 1903. The Rectory is attached to the rear of the church and faces Monroe Street. It is a tapestry-brick, two-and-one-half-story, gable-roofed, center-hall-plan, Georgian style residence constructed in the 1920s. A Tuscan-columned door porch, Federal style window lintels, gabled dormers, and brick quoining are decorative features. St. Mary's Parochial Elementary School is a two-story, brick, hip-roofed building on a high basement of rusticated limestone ashlar built in 1903. The symmetrical facade has a projecting, gabled, central pavilion and a corbelled brick cornice treatment. Several one-story, brick additions of various ages adjoin the side and rear elevations. The Brothers of Holy Cross Hall is a two-story, red brick, low hip-roofed, Italianate-style residence built about 1870. Yellow brick quoining and hood molds, paired wooden brackets, and a massive, early twentieth century, wrap-around porch with brick piers and parapet wall railings are decorative features. A modern, two-story, flat-roofed, brick, dormitory addition with steel casement windows adjoins the rear of the building.
Statement of Significance The St. Mary's Church Complex is historically significant as the second oldest Catholic parish in the Northwest Territory that has been in continuous existence. It is architecturally significant as one of the oldest church buildings in Michigan in the Gothic Revival style. The parish was founded in October of 1788 by Father Frechette to minister to the forty-one French-Canadian families who were residing along the River Raisin in the vicinity of Monroe. It was named St. Antoine de la Riviere aux Raisins and served a parish whose boundaries extended as far south as Vincennes, Indiana. The original log church was constructed on a site west of present-day Monroe, but was relocated to the village in 1828. The congregation moved to its present site in 1834, where the existing brick and stone church was begun in 1835. It was renamed St. Mary's in 1845. There was relatively little alteration to the church building from the time of its dedication in 1839 until 1903 when the rear of the structure was demolished and the present enormous apse was appended. At the same time, the school was constructed and improvements were made to the old Italianate house next door now known as The Brothers of Holy Cross Hall. The growing prosperity of Monroe in the early twentieth century is reflected in the dignified Georgian-style Rectory. St. Mary's has remained one of Monroe's most important religious institutions to the present.
Period of Significance 1826-1865
Significant Date(s) 1839, 1870
Registry Type(s) 05/06/1982 National Register listed
Site ID# P24248