Historic Detroit

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

First Congregational Church

First Congregational Church was founded in 1844 and quickly established a lasting legacy by helping to usher enslaved African-Americans to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

But some of its members were tired of cramming into their tiny old building on Fort Street and what is now Washington Boulevard. So they split off, bought a lot on Woodward and Forest avenues and hired one of the nation’s top church architects, John Lyman Faxon.

After seeing what the folks uptown had cooking, the rest of the congregation joined them. It took five years, but the church held its first service in the new chapel on Feb. 9, 1891. The rest of the church took a bit longer, and wasn’t dedicated until Dec. 13, 1891.

The church is stunning inside and out, with jaw-dropping painted vaulted ceiling and lovely rough-hewn red sandstone harvested in the Upper Peninsula.

Perched atop its 120-foot tower is an 8-foot bronze statue of the archangel Uriel. The parish house behind the church was designed by Albert Kahn and opened in 1925.