St. Bonaventure Monastery, photo 1981
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Saint Bonaventure Monastery
1740 Mt. Elliot Avenue, Detroit - Wayne County
Property Type religious complex
Historic Use RELIGION
Current Use RELIGION
Style Gothic Revival
Late Victorian
Architect/Builder Peter Dederichs
Significant Person Solanus Casey
Narrative Description St. Bonaventure Monastery is a complex comprised of three primary buildings, the Late Victorian, Gothic-influenced monastery built between 1883 and 1913, the 1908 Soup Kitchen, and the 1939 Third Order Hall. All buildings are of monochromatic red brick ornamented with hand-dressed Trenton limestone for the foundation and keystones. The complex also contains a very small cemetery for the use of the Order which is included in the nomination and a 1960 non-contributing mission building. The L-shaped lot is approximately two acres in size.
Statement of Significance Established in 1883, St. Bonaventure Monastery is significant as one of a number of institutions established in the Detroit area in the late nineteenth century to serve the Roman Catholic population of Detroit. The monastery was designed to minister to the needs of the area's Catholic clergy and churches, but extended its ministry to include emergency relief activities by 1931; feeding as many as 3,500 free meals per day. In addition, the monastery is significant for its association with Father Solanus Casey. Father Casey was a Capuchin friar whose assignment at St. Bonaventure was that of a porter, meeting visitors at the friary door. He helped out in the Soup Kitchen, comforting the hungry, discourged men in the soup line, and he was instrumental in obtaining food and supplies for the kitchen during the darkest years of the Great Depression. His charity and compassion won the hearts of many Catholic, Protestants, and Jews, and in 1966 he was introduced as a candidate for sainthood. This imposing monasterial complex designed by Peter Dederichs, Jr., a prominent Detroit architect, is also architecturally significant as a monumental example of Late Victorian Gothic architecture.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1883-1913
Registry Type(s) 12/02/1982 National Register listed
Site ID# P25223