The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Complex, photo submitted in 1991. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Complex, photo submitted in 1991.
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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Complex
13770 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit - Wayne County
Other Names Assumption Grotto Church
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION/religious facility
Current Use RELIGION
Style Gothic
Architect/Builder Aloys F. Herman
Peter Dederichs
Narrative Description The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Complex includes a historic church, rectory, convent, grotto, and cemetery, along with a utilitarian boiler house. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a basilica-plan, Neo-Gothic, limestone structure built in 1928 to 1929, stands at the center of the complex fronting on Gratiot Avenue with a red brick 1917 to 1918 rectory and matching early 1920s convent. The very modest boiler house stands beside the convent. Behind the church, located near the back of the parish cemetery, stands an impressive grotto structure built in 1881 to 1883. The cemetery contains a variety of monuments from the early nineteenth century to the present.
Statement of Significance The Assumption Grotto Church Complex possesses significance in architectural terms for its well preserved nineteenth-century grotto structure and early twentieth-century church. The Grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes is an early example of the many Catholic grotto structures built in Michigan and the United States in emulation of the famous grotto at Lourdes. Constructed in 1881 to 1883 at the instigation of the parish priest, Rev. Amandus Vandendriessche, the grotto is an early and innovative work of Detroit architect Peter Dederichs, Jr., the earliest known Michigan architect who specialized in the design of Catholic churches and institutional buildings. The late 1920s Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a distinguished example of Neo-Gothic Catholic architecture in the Detroit area. The Church of the Assumption traces its direct origin to the settlement in the area of a number of immigrants from the Neustadt, Germany area in the 1830 to 1832 period, although the area also contained a small French Catholic community. The first church building was a log structure known as the "Chapel in the Woods" and later as the Chapel of the Assumption and St. Mary's in the Woods. Assumption obtained its first resident priest, Rev. Amandus Vandendriessche, about the beginning of 1851. The parish built its first substantial church building in 1851 to 1852, a new one in 1907 to 1908 when the former one burned, and the present one in 1928 to 1929 to accommodate a congregation greatly swelled in the early twentieth century by the growth of the city.
Marker Name Assumption Roman Catholic Church/Assumption Grotto
Marker Text ASSUMPTION ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH The origins of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church can be traced to 1830, when German immigrants first arrived in Detroit. Warned away from cholera-stricken Detroit, they built a log church here in 1832, in what was then the outskirts of the city. Redemptorist missionaries served the Kirche im Wald (Church in the Woods) until it was designated a parish by Bishop Peter Paul LeFevre in 1847. It is the second-oldest parish in Detroit. Father Amandus Vandendriessche, the first full-time pastor, was assigned here in 1852 and immediately began building a permanent structure. Built of brick made on the premises, the church was completed in time for Christmas services that same year. ASSUMPTION GROTTO To meet the needs of a growing congregation, this church was begun in 1928. Designed by the Detroit architectural firm Aloys Frank Herman, Incorporated, the limestone-faced, Neo-Gothic, basilica-plan church was dedicated on September 22, 1929. A unique feature of the church grounds is the grotto, a shrine located in the parish cemetery. Father Amandus Vandendriessche, who had served Assumption Church since 1852, visited France in 1876 and was so inspired by the shrine at Our Lady of Lourdes that he decided to create a replica at his own parish. The grotto has attracted visitors since its dedication in June 1881. The entire church complex, which consists of the church, parish house, rectory, cemetery and grotto, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1881-2
Registry Type(s) 06/25/1992 Marker erected
08/05/1991 National Register listed
07/19/1990 State Register listed
Site ID# P25020