The St. Vincent DePaul Church Complex, photo submitted in 1989.
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Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, School and Convent
150 East Wide Track Drive, at Whittemore Street, Pontiac - Oakland County
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION/religious facility
Current Use RELIGION/religious facility
Style Gothic
Architect/Builder Henry J. Meier
John M. Donaldson
Narrative Description The St. Vincent DePaul Church Complex contains an interesting variety of structures which portray the growth and prosperity of Pontiac's oldest Catholic parish between 1885 and 1926. The historic complex is composed of St. Vincent's Church (1885), St. Frederick School (1923), and the Convent (1926). While the church is an important example of nineteenth-century Catholic church architecture by Donaldson and Meier of Detroit, each of the other structures in the complex were also originally designed by Donaldson and Meier. The buildings are located close to each other and are all built of brick with cut stone detail. While the church is built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, St. Frederick school and the Convent were built in what has become known as Collegiate Gothic.
Statement of Significance The St. Vincent DePaul Church in Pontiac is a well preserved example of late nineteenth-century Catholic church architecture in the Gothic Revival style. St. Vincent's is the earliest, thus-far documented, Catholic church by architects Donaldson and Meier of Detroit, who designed at least two dozen Catholic churches in Detroit over a thirty-year period. The St. Vincent Church complex is important as the home of a congregation and parish dating back to 1851. Immigrants from Ireland and Germany formed the first congregation of St. Vincent's. Many of the early parish members in the early 1900s were major figures in the founding and growth of the automotive industry, including carriage makers Martin Halfpenny, Oliver J. Beaudette, and Edward M. Murphy. The complex continues to serve the Catholic population of Pontiac.
Marker Name St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church
Marker Text ST. VINCENT DE PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH St. Vincent de Paul parish, established in 1851 by Bishop Peter Paul LeFevre, once included all of Oakland County and parts of Genesee, Lapeer and Macomb counties. The parish's first house of worship, the Academy Building, was first a private school and later a branch of the University of Michigan. In 1866 the church was moved from North Saginaw Street to Oakland Avenue at Lafayette. The parish grew as increasing numbers of Irish and German Catholic immigrants came to Pontiac to work in industry and farming. The Reverend Fridolin Baumgartner, pastor from 1876 to 1894, organized the fund-raising for and the construction of the present church. Nearly five thousand people celebrated as its cornerstone was laid on September 6, 1885. SIDE TWO Detroit architects John M. Donaldson and Walter Meier designed this Victorian Gothic church. Upon its dedication on September 18, 1887, a fourteen-coach excursion train brought spectators and clergy from Detroit to Pontiac to celebrate. Bishop Casper Henry Borgess and Father Fridolin Baumgartner presided over the ceremony. A 6,600-pound bell, cast by H. Stuckstede and Company, was installed in the bell tower of the church in 1890. The St. Frederick School building, added in 1897, was replaced by the present structure in 1923. The school was staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, until it closed in 1969. The rectory was built in 1895; the parish hall in 1911.
Period of Significance 1885-1926
Significant Date(s) 1926
Registry Type(s) 07/26/1988 Marker erected
06/09/1989 National Register listed
04/28/1987 State Register listed
Site ID# P24379