Historic Detroit

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

Sts. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church

This church at Jefferson and St. Antoine is now Detroit’s oldest standing church, having been consecrated June 29, 1848, the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul. It is also one of Detroit's oldest surviving structures.

The cornerstone was laid four years to day earlier, with the ceremony being held on June 29, 1844, to mark the feast day, as well. Right Rev. Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere oversaw the ceremony, which started with a procession that began at 8:30 a.m. at Ste. Anne's Catholic Church, which was then located nearby on Griswold Street, and moved to the site of the new church.

It took four years to build, reportedly because Lefevere insisted on paying for construction as it proceeded, in order to avoid any debt. The church's architect was Francis Latourneau.

For nearly 30 years, this church was Detroit’s cathedral, succeeding Ste. Anne’s, which had been the cathedral for the Michigan Territory. In 1877, it was turned over to the Jesuits in return for their promise to establish a college in Detroit, so this cathedral became a parish church. The Jesuits were true to their word, founding Detroit College next door, which has since grown into today's University of Detroit Mercy.