Historic Detroit

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St. Elizabeth Parish

St. Elizabeth's Parish was was organized in the year 1884. Rev. Anton Svensson, assistant pastor of St. Joseph's church, was designated by the late Rt. Rev. Caspar Borgess, bishop of the diocese, as the pastor. Steps were immediately taken to erect a building which would serve the purposes of a church. The land for the building was donated by Fannie Van Dyke. The building was dedicated on June 21, 1885.

In 1890, the parish had a membership of 400+ families which made the building inadequate for its purpose. During a meeting of the congregation on July 27, 1890 it was decided by an unanimous vote to proceed with the erection of a new church adjoining the present edifice at a cost of $30,000.

Ground was broken for the current St. Elizabeth Catholic Church at the corner of Canfield and McDougall streets on March 30, 1891. Designed by Donaldson & Meier, its cornerstone was laid on May 3, 1891 by Rev. Bishop John S.Foley.

The building is built of plain and molded pressed brick with dark buff sandstone trimmings. The principal front, facing west on McDougall, is simple in outline, broken only by well-set towers on either side. The 50x90 feet auditorium is beautifully vaulted and flanked by 36x70 transepts. The vaulting of the nave, transept and aisles springs from massive polished columns nineteen feet high, and rises in the nave and transepts and sanctuary thirty-seven feet above the floor.

The vaulting of the nave and transept is groined in full bays, the side walls pierced with deep circular arches, connecting the same with barrel vaults springing from pillar to pillar over the aisles. These barrel vaults are set transversely of the building, forming deep niches for beautiful, rich stained glass windows. The stained glass windows were all donated by various societies and members of the parish.

Dedicated on Feb. 14, 1892, St. Elizabeth church is at the eastern end of a row of Catholic churches on East Canfield Street with St. Albertus, Sweetest Heart of Mary and St. Josaphat churches less than one mile to the west.

Today, though much of its surrounding neighborhood has struggled, the parish remains open, serving families in the community and beyond.

Last updated 19/12/2023