Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Central United Methodist Church

Central United Methodist was designed by Gordon W. Lloyd and dedicated Nov. 17, 1867.

The church was Michigan's first Methodist congregation, having been founded with seven members in 1810 as the First Methodist Society. It was incorporated on March 21, 1822.

After several smaller homes, the cornerstone was laid for the present church on July 3, 1866.

The building's exterior is composed of Ohio limestone and sandstone. The 180-foot bell tower houses a 460-pound bell and cost $3,200 (about $55,000 today, when adjusted for inflation) to build. In an example of Detroit hustle, the church's pews were made from the trees that were cut down on the site.

A six-story parish house designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls was opened in 1916, replacing the original chapel and parsonage. The new building featured an auditorium, gym, bowling alley, handball courts, six storefronts and a residential area for a manager.

Woodward Avenue was widened in 1936-37, forcing the steeple and west wall to be moved 29.5 feet to the east and 8.5 feet south, and 28.4 feet on the Adams side of the church was demolished.

In 1977, it was designated a Michigan state historic site and joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

In 2000, the church became a reconciling church, which welcomes all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

More on this building coming soon.