Founded by M. Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701 along with the beginning of Fort Ponchartrain, the parish of Saint Anne is the second oldest Catholic parish with a continuous record in the United States. The Church's history is interlocked with the history of Detroit, and its records, beginning in 1704, are an invaluable source of information, especially on the French population of Detroit. The Complex consists of five buildings: church, rectory, school, convent and parish hall. In 1887, as it had twice before, the congregation outgrew its accommodations and had to erect a new building. The church, designed in a basic cruciform plan by Leon Coquard, is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style, and contains the twin spires design common in northern French churches. The thirty-five foot altar is a purely gothic design with spires, pinnacles, turrets and flying buttresses. Below the steps of the main altar lies the crypt containing the tomb of Father Gabriel Richard (1767-1832), a figure who looms large in the Church's history. Born in France, Father Richard became a Suplican priest in 1791, but fled his country during the French Revolution. Seeking asylum in the United States, he became pastor of the parish in 1802 and devoted himself to his religious duties and the development of public education in Detroit. Father Richard started a school for girls and was one of the founders of the University of Michigan. Serving as a delegate to Congress from 1823-1825, Father Richard was the first priest to serve in Congress and was instrumental in securing road building projects for Michigan, including a road from Detroit to Chicago. He died of cholera in 1832, contracting the disease while administering aid to hundreds of cholera sufferers during an epidemic that swept the city.
St. Anne Church is located at the corner of Howard and St. Anne Street, five blocks east of the Fisher Freeway (US 75) and two blocks north of West Fort Street. The building is open to the public.
St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church|
Photograph courtesy of Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
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