St. Joseph Shrine, one of Detroit's oldest Catholic churches, starts renovations

St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit is one of the city's oldest Catholic churches and pre-dates most buildings built around it. The church near Eastern Market is on the National Register of Historic Places but is in desperate need of work to keep the 150-year-old building up-to-date and safe.

St. Joseph Shrine was completed in 1873 and, just walking inside, you'll notice the majestic craftsmanship on full display. The church's stained glass windows and ceilings feature artistic designs from a century-and-a-half ago.

But look closer at the building, the church's pastor says, and you'll see not everything is in perfect shape.

"You see so many cracks in the ceiling, cracks on the walls, falling paint," the Reverend Canon Michael Stein said. 

While the church's attendance is growing now, it spent years in decline. As did funding for upkeep.

"Over the past century-and-a-half water has been pushing its way into the church, pushing out the mortar, then the stones shift," said Rev. Stein.

That's changing starting in March 2021 as a much-needed renovation project is starting at the historical church and it undergoes a full restoration of its exterior stonework.

"Every stone of this church has been mapped out in engineering plans and whether we need to tuckpoint, or clean or even outright replace," said Rev. Stein.

It’s a $1.8 million project and the church has received a $250,000 grant to help defray the cost. But only if donations are high enough to qualify. 

"It’s a 2-to-1 matching grant. We need to raise $500,000 to lock the $250,000," said Rev. Stein.

To learn how you can help go to their website and click 'donate' on the menu. 

This is not the first major renovation project this church has seen in recent years.

"Just two years ago we celebrated the complete and historic restoration of our 200-foot spire," said Rev. Stein.

Those who worship here, like Daniel Egan, are excited about the renovation project and hope the community will see the need to preserve this worship site 

"Our ancestors put their pennies together 125 years ago and it’s our job to make sure it lasts for the future," said Egan.

A future this church is looking forward to celebrating 

"We finish all four exterior walls by fall of 2022 and that is when we open up the year-long celebration of our 150th anniversary," said Rev. Stein.

If you would like to help,

St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit is on the National Register of Historic Places and is almost 150-years-old but needs desperate repairs.