Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
Location Name: Historic Trinity Lutheran Church (Detroit, Michigan)
Location Type: Church (Lutheran)
Year Completed: 1931
Architect(s): William E. N. Hunter and Bernard C. Wetzel
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church traces its history back to 1850 when seventeen men broke away from Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church and formed a new congregation. The split was the result of Rev. John Winkler (of Saint Matthew’s) excommunicated a member without seeking the approval of the congregation. Feeling that Rev. Winkler exceeded the limits of his power, the new church was formed. The new congregation spent some time using Christ Episcopal Church for services until a permanent home was attained. The congregation purchased the chapel of the Western Seaman’s Friend Society of Woodbridge (then owned by Mariners’ Church of Detroit), and moved it to a new location at Rivard and Larned.
Trinity Lutheran, as it was then called, soon outgrew this small home downtown and the decision was made to build a new brick church on the site of today’s building on Gratiot Avenue. Then the heart of Detroit’s German neighborhood, the Eastern Market area seemed an appropriate choice for the German-speaking congregation to build a new home. Dedicated in 1866, Trinity Lutheran’s second home remained in use for over half a century. By the 1920s the building was in need of some restoration work. Instead of restoring the 1866 building, church member Charles Gauss stepped forward and provided a generous sum of money for the construction of a grand new structure. Architect William E. N. Hunter was chosen to build the Indiana limestone Neo-Gothic building. Adjacent to the church building, a brick Tudor-style parsonage was built, designed by Bernard C. Wetzel. The new church was dedicated on 15 February 1931.
Despite the problems dealt by the decline in Detroit’s population and prosperity, Historic Trinity Lutheran Church has remained downtown when many other congregations have moved to the suburbs. The church changed its name to Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in 1986 and has been determined to preserve its historic structure, undergoing extensive restorations to preserve the beautiful building it calls home.
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.Sources