The present Fort Street Presbyterian Church building is located in Detroit, Michigan. It is acclaimed as one of the tallest human-made structure standing 81 meters at its steeple in that city. Its construction started in 1855, and it was not completed until 1876 making it one among the oldest churches situated in Detroit. The records of the building can be found in the state and national historic registers (Marsden, George). In this regard, the analysis of the construction, materials, historical references and, work’s style are highlighted in this paper.
During the construction period, Fort Street was an aesthetic part of the neighborhood. The surrounding members include elite class such as Zachariah Chandle, James F. Joy and, Russel A. Alger. Zachariah Chandler in his Memorial Address booklet states that the construction of the church was caused by an influx of English Protestants in 1849 when a second Presbyterian church was organized by Reverend Robert Kellogg. The land in which the church is built was bought from Mr. Shadrack and Mary Gillett (Woodford, Arthur).
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Mr. Albert H. Jordan from Connecticut was chosen as the architect. As the architect, Jordan designed the church’s exemplary manifestation of Gothic Revival architecture. Additionally, He was mandated in constructing the larger portion of the church. Albert also designed other notable building that is renowned throughout the US. James Anderson was Jordan’s draftsman who later designed the Detroit’s Old City Hall (Marsden, George).
The total cost of the site and building was about $ 1.8 million. This money was difficult to raise making only a part of the church to be constructed using the available funds. Fifteen years later, the ambitious open construction was completed by creating gallery and pews resembling the original design (Thompson, Ernest). This was primarily caused by the small number of the church congregation which was only 167 people at the time.
A reconditioning program that included installation of black walnut pews and crescent gallery was instituted in 1870. Baptismal font found in the church is made of Caen stone, supported by onyx columns imported from Mexico. These materials are used to make the building stable since it’s an ancient building (Marsden, George). The materials were sourced from Mexico because of their availability there and the ease of making them.
The building’s slate roof was replaced in 2013. This was done after a fire broke out but there have since been other significant fixtures and renovations in the building. The church was able to raise $700,000 where a never fading green slate mined in a quarry in Vermont was used (Woodford, Arthur). Engineers tested the material which was observed to be three times stronger than ordinary slate.
The primary material that was used for the construction of the church was limestone that was mined in the Ontario quarries. Modern materials were used for interior furnishing to give the building a stylish look. Limestone was used because it easily forms the required shape and also a valuable natural resource (Nevin, Alfred). The Ontario quarry was used to source the limestone due to its proximity to the city of Detroit.
New lights have been installed in the building, and the roof has been built using modern materials. Moreover, there is a facade which stands at 265 feet (81 meters) tall square tower consisting of the spire on one side with a shorter turret which is octagonal. A central stained glass is fitted in the windows to illuminate the sanctuary. The church has seven bays along the side with flying buttresses, crocheted finials, lacy stonework and tall windows, which is designed to give the impression of lightness (Marsden, George).
The sanctuary’s interior features a three-aisled nave and a horseshoe balcony capable that can seat about 1,000 people. Tiles are fitted on the stone floor and are early works of Mary Chase Perry Stratton, founder of Pottery. The solid brass lectern which is in a shape of an eagle was exhibited at 1893 during the World’s Columbian Exposition which was held in Chicago to showcase outstanding architecture (Woodford, Arthur).
The church’s gymnasium was converted to a dormitory during World War II according to the church’s website. Furthermore, in recent times the facility has been used to house homeless people as a way to give back to the society by feeding them weekly (https://fortstreet.org/).
The church has also maintained artistry records and works for public viewing. This has led to the promotion of tourism in the local area thus leading to its growth. The building is acclaimed as an architectural marvel of the 19th century. Its Gothic design which was inspired by the Gothic Revival which began in England in the eighteenth century (Nevin, Alfred).
Accounts of incidents such as the 1876 fire that destroyed interior and roof of the church have been suitably recorded. However, the church was later rebuilt in the following year where its 230-foot spire was made. There was another fire which broke out when electricians were replacing the lights, but it has since been renovated (Farmer, Silas). There have been other small fixtures made to match its present look.
The Fort Street Presbyterian church is a physical proof of the 19th century Gothic Revival construction style. It has a robust foundation which was made using limestone making it stand the test of time. The church facilitated the growth of the surrounding community through its historical design that attracts both local and international tourists.
Farmer, Silas. The history of detroit and michigan or the metropolis illustrated. 1889. Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American culture. Oxford University Press, 2006. Nevin, Alfred. Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America: Including the Northern and Southern Assemblies. Presbyterian Encyclopaedia Publishing Company, 1884. Thompson, Ernest Trice. Presbyterians in the South: 1861-1890. Vol. 13. Westminster John Knox Press, 1963. Woodford, Arthur M.? This is Detroit, 1701-2001. Wayne State University Press, 2001. https://fortstreet.org/ https://www.historicdetroit.org/building/fort-street-presbyterian-church/
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