St. Joseph
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Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church
5930 Woodward Avenue, Detroit - Wayne County
Other Names Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION
Current Use RELIGION
Style Romanesque
Architect/Builder Malcomson and Higginbotham
Narrative Description The complex is located on the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Medbury Street (now the Edsel Ford service drive). St. Joseph's Episcopal Church (now Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church), built in 1893 to 1896, is a rambling, ground-hugging, rock-faced, cross-gable-roofed, sandstone, Romanesque Revival structure notable for its complex massing. The Woodward Avenue elevation is the entrance front. The gabled facade is flanked by a tall, square, pyramid-roofed tower at the corner of Medbury Street and by a lower, round, conical-roofed tower on the north. A one-story vestibule containing the arched entrance spans the facade between the towers. A huge round window fills the gable above the vestibule. The most notable feature of the facade is the soaring corner tower with its corbelled and battlemented parapet. The rectangular severity of the tower shaft is modulated by a two-story, semi-circular stair turret on the Woodward Avenue side and a round turret that projects from its outside corner at the upper levels. The oversized, gilded statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary crowning the tower's hip-roof is a striking feature and an addition.
Statement of Significance This Richardsonian Romanesque complex originated with the St. Joseph's Memorial Chapel, the gift of Mrs. L.R. Medbury. The smaller chapel, consecrated on July 9, 1884, proved too small for the growing congregation, and the present larger church was erected west of the chapel facing toward Woodward Avenue. In 1906 St. Joseph's congregation merged with that of the congregation of St. Paul's Cathedral nearby. The building was sold in 1907 to Father Francis J. Vananthwerp for a purchase price of $19,500. The present congregation draws an urban mix of Wayne State University students and other community members. The interior of the church has undergone some alteration. The former St. Joseph's Church complex is notable in a statewide context as a fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque church design and the 1893 to 1896 church itself in at least a local context as an important work of the prominent Detroit architectural firm of Malcomson & Higginbotham.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1883, 1884, 1893, 1896
Registry Type(s) 08/03/1982 National Register listed
Site ID# P25230