Citing a “grave shortage of priests” in the state, Right Rev. Michael J. Gallagher, the bishop of Detroit, called on Catholics in 1920 to raise $4 million to build a new seminary. That’s about $56.5 million today.
“New parishes cannot be established, new churches cannot be built, until the supply of priests is augmented,” a 1920 advertisement said.
The Detroit Free Press claimed that an incredible 100,000 people watched the cornerstone-laying ceremony June 17, 1923.
“God still reaches into the homes of his children and picks his little Davids to gather them here in this seminary, whence they shall go out into the world to meet the battling giants of materialism, sensualism and pleasure unbounded,” the Right Rev. Joseph Schrembs said at the ceremony.
Construction wrapped up in January 1925. The impressive complex, located at Chicago Boulevard and Linwood Avenue, was designed by the Detroit firm Donaldson & Meier. It had room to train about 400 young men for the priesthood and offered a 12-year course of study.
The complex houses all kinds of non-seminary functions now, in addition to educating future priests.