Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Monday, February 13, 2023

The neighborhood - Rector's Rambling for February 12, 2023

It is remarkable to think about the changes that have occurred, and are occurring in our neighborhood around St. John’s Church.  This past Wednesday we spent a good part of the day hearing the sound of a helicopter as it lifted up the new lighting fixtures for Comerica Park and placed them on the towers around the stadium.  Video of the helicopter doing this is available on our Facebook and Instagram pages. 

When St. John’s was built, this part of Detroit was mostly farmlands and ‘out of town.  Henry Porter Baldwin purchased the apple orchard across Woodward from his country house with the idea that the city would eventually grow to the north and encompass this area, making it a prime location for a new Episcopal Church.

The neighborhood changed soon thereafter, with posh Victorian mansions, a few of which still stand. Eventually the neighborhood became a commercial and theatre district and the remaining house nearby became boarding houses.  When I arrived in 2001 Comerica Park had just opened but most the neighborhood to the north of St. John’s was abandoned buildings and empty lots.

Fast forward 22 years and we have Ford Field, Little Caesars Arena and perhaps even more importantly, thousands of housing units in various stages of development...each one with a potential member of St. John’s living in walking distance.  In our most recent Confirmation Class every person lived in the City of Detroit, and 3/4 of them walked or rode bikes to worship! 

We continue to look for opportunities to interact with the neighborhood to attract people to join us at St. John’s, through worship, classes, social events, hosting community groups,  and outreach. Pray for more people to know Jesus!