It’s a buyer’s market for believers in metro Detroit.
Even before this month’s announcement of upcoming Catholic church closings, the Archdiocese of Detroit had several churches up for sale from a previous round of shutdowns.
There are also dozens of schools, convents and rectories up for sale or lease – and the prospect of 48 more parishes in Detroit and the suburbs coming on the market in the next five years.
In Detroit, in particular, the possibility of a dozen or more Catholic church closings looms as another large wound to the city’s ravaged landscape. Some of the churches that are threatened are historic, skyline-defining landmarks – cavernous works of Old World artisanship that would be difficult to resell, experts have said.
“You can trace the city’s history and ethnic migrations by where the churches are. Historic buildings give a sense of place and make the city familiar,” said William Worden, the retired head of the city’s historic designation advisory office. “Churches do that because they are striking structures and different from their surroundings.”
Worden said he worries that several Detroit churches recommended for closure are nationally recognized historic treasures. In particular, he cites three downtown Detroit churches – St. Joseph, Sweetest Heart of Mary and St. Josaphat – which were tentatively advised to work toward a merger and the closure of one of the three churches.
“We’re beginning to see some pretty important historic structures under threat of closure,” said Worden. “All three are on the National Register of Historic Places, and St. Joseph is listed as one of National Significance. How do you select among three important buildings?”
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SOURCE: Detroit Free Press