Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One fewer church on Piety Hill - a mid-week thought by The Rector.

Our neighborhood used to be called Piety Hill, with 6 Churches and a Synagogue. The Synagogue is now Wayne State University's Bonstelle Theatre.  

Of the 6 churches that made up Piety Hill in Detroit, only 2 remain as churches: Central Methodist and St. John's Episcopal (my church).  

The Presbyterian Church is now the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and seems in good repair on the outside  

Sadly, another church on Piety Hill has been destroyed by fire, joining Woodward Avenue Baptist and St. Patrick's.  

St. Patrick's was sold to the city in 1973, abandoned, and burned in 1993.  The city has plans to use it as a rec center, which never materialized.  It was at one time the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese. (The Burton Collection photo).  It was located on Adelaide Street, between Woodward and John R.

The Woodward Baptist Church on Piety Hill was sold to a local church before abandonment and eventual fire in 1986.  You can see St. John's in the background of this photo (flat top tower) and Central Methodist behind that.  I-75 now runs between St. John's and where the Baptist Church was located.  (The Burton Collection photo)

On May 10, 2014 The First Unitarian Church on Woodward burned.  Although the church is referred to as First Unitarian, in fact the Unitarians built it and used it for only 47 years. The next 77 years if was used by the Church of Christ and various independent congregations. It has been empty, except for 6 months, since 2001 when I arrived at St. John's.  The former Presbyterian Church, now Ecumenical Seminary, is located behind it.  (Detroit Free Press Photo)

Demolition began immediately after the fire, and three days later all that remained was the tower and a pile of rubble.