Historic Detroit

Fort Street Presbyterian Church

Fort Street Presbyterian Church was first organized in 1849 as the Second Presbyterian church. The congregation met in the old state Capitol on Capitol Park in Detroit until they could build their church on the corner of Lafayette and Wayne (now Washington Boulevard) in 1850.

The present structure was completed in 1855 and the name was changed to Fort Street Presbyterian Church. It is one of America’s finest examples of the Gothic Revival architecture of that period. It was constructed of limestone from the quarries at Malden, Ontario. The building is on the state and national historic registers.

At the time of its construction, Lafayette and Fort Street was a fashionable part of the city, and it was surrounded by the stately homes of early Fort Street Presbyterian members such as Russell A. Alger, James, F. Joy, Theodore S. Buhl, Henry D. Shelden, and Zachariah Chandler.

The architect selected was Mr. Albert H. Jordan, originally from Connecticut. His firm was the leader in the church building boom of the 1850s. His young draftsman, James Anderson was responsible for a large portion of our building. Anderson went on to design Detroit’s Old City Hall.

The membership at this time was only 167, and the total cost of building and site about $70,000 (about$ 1.7 million, when adjusted for inflation). Insufficient funds made it necessary to only partially complete the interior furnishings. In March 1870, a reconditioning program was instituted to complete the original design that included the installation of the crescent gallery and black walnut pews.

The church’s slate roof was replaced in August and September 2013.