Detroit — Strong storms and gusts of wind across the Midwest left one historic Detroit church in potentially perilous condition Nov. 18 as the steeple of St. Josaphat Church along Interstate 75 could be seen swaying in the chilly fall wind.
Detroit Police had the intersection of East Canfield Street and the Chrysler Freeway Service Drive closed Monday afternoon as a handful of onlookers stood across the street from the 112-year-old Gothic Revival structure. The main steeple of St. Josaphat could be seen leaning to the church’s southwest side, and shingles and pieces of the tower had been blown off by the wind.
A city buildings inspector looked at the damage Tuesday and determined the structure is unsafe because of damage to the 200-foot steeple’s main support beam. No one has been allowed inside the church since Monday’s storm.
Historic St. Josaphat Church is part of the newly merged Mother of Divine Mercy Parish, which also includes Sweetest Heart of Mary Church and St. Joseph Church in Detroit. It will be up to the parish to determine whether to remove the iconic steeple or attempt a repair, which could take months and costs thousands of dollars. The parish was expected to make that decision this week.
A notice on the parish’s Facebook page said a 7 p.m. Tridentine (Latin) Mass on Monday night at St. Josaphat had been canceled because of the roof damage, and services for the foreseeable future will be held at either Sweetest Heart of Mary or St. Joseph.
St. Josaphat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Michigan State Historic Site.