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Photo showing damage to the facade. Courtesy photo.

A church built in 1891 and expanded in 1921 needs some help to restore it after a significant part of the façade was destroyed.

A chunk of the front of the building fell off of the First Congregational Church of Detroit, located at Forest and Woodward in the Midtown neighborhood of Detroit, during a recent storm.

You can see it if you drive down Woodward, and the front of the church has been blocked off by plywood. If you’re a lover of Detroit’s beautiful architecture, it’s heartbreaking.

Here’s a little history. The church was designed by Boston architect John Faxon and the Angel’s Wing Community House addition was designed by the celebrated architect Albert Kahn. This isn’t the first building for the church — it has roots 170 years back.

But this repair work isn’t limited to the façade. After all, there’s a lot of work to be done – the building in parts is more than 110 years old.

1903 Photo via the Library of Congress

First Congregational is also home to the Underground Railroad Living Museum, a publicly funded “Flight to Freedom” Tour that is a re-enactment of the original Underground Railroad passage that operated between 1840 and 1863. Also, dozens of events happen at the church each year, from weddings and corporate retreats to family reunions and community group meetings.

According to the church, required repairs include:

  • Reconstructing the handicap accessible ramp
  • Reconstructing the Forest Ave. porch
  • Internal plaster work throughout the sanctuary
  • Replacement of stained glass windows destroyed due to vandalism
  • Refurbishing the Woodward-facing façade of the church, which also serves as the main entrance.

To make this happen, the church is looking to raise $2 million through a GoFundMe campaign.

“The First Congregational Church of Detroit has been a strong partner in the Midtown community. The church is exceptional in its representation of the area’s diverse fabric and in its commitment in supporting the people of the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Sue Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit, Inc. “The beautiful architectural features of the historic church are in great need of repair and restoration to ensure the area’s rich history is preserved and can be appreciated now and for future generations.”

In addition to the crowdfunding campaign, the First Congregational Church of Detroit is hosting a series of fundraising events. Two coming up a dinner and concert series beginning October 15 and a 3rd Year Pastor’s Anniversary Celebration and Church Restoration Fundraiser on November 4.

Here’s a link to the GoFundMe campaign and here’s a link to the church’s website for more information.