Located near Eastern Market on Russell Street, Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church was built in 1893. And it may be about to lose its twin spires.
They would be removed if a request by the Divine Mercy Parish (a Parish created by merging with nearby St. Josephat) is granted at tonight’s Historic District Commission meeting. Their proposal is to remove the church’s two spires and to cap the remaining steeples.
So let’s clarify what we’re talking about. The brick part of the steeple would stay, the wooden part (spire) at the top would go.
Why? According to the Archdiocese of Detroit, the church’s two spires are structurally unsound after decades of wear.
A structural engineer assessed the condition of the spires for the Parish, and it was determined that they have become a safety hazard and must be repaired or taken down. The church says that the bill would cost approximately $1.3 million, an amount that “is not financially feasible at this time.”
When we reached out to the Archdiocese for comment, we received the following statement from Paul Vandenheede, Chair of the parish Finance Council that we’re passing along unedited:
“Mother of Divine Mercy Parish is developing a long-term comprehensive plan, working in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Detroit, that addresses the maintenance, care, safety and renovation of its two churches (Sweetest Heart of Mary and St. Josaphat), as well as the other historic buildings on its campuses. The issues are complicated and will be discussed in part with the Detroit Historical Commission. Please know that we are committed to our beautiful and historic churches, to our Catholic faith and parish families, and to the City of Detroit. As more details are galvanized and as fund-raising plans take shape, we will be happy to share them. Thank you for your interest in Mother of Divine Mercy Parish.”
Fun fact: Not only is in the inside of the church beautiful, it has the oldest surviving electro-pneumatic pipe organ in the state of Michigan, built in 1893.
UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: The Historic District Commission was deadlocked on their decision and decided to table the matter until next meeting.