Central United Church

A recent email from a reader asked me about Central United Church on Ouellette. Oddly enough, it’s never been featured on the site. I supposed sometimes the most obvious ones get overlooked…

Designed by Detroit Architects Kastler & Hunter. The rendering above appeared in the Evening Record, October 19, 1904.


This shows a perspective view of the structure as designed by the architects with the exception of alterations in the front entrance.

A photo of Joseph Kastler, on half of the architectural firm. (From Men of Michigan; a collection of the portraits of men prominent in business and professional life in Michigan published 1904).

They designed several churches in Detroit, including St. Josaphat. Even if you don’t know the name St. Josaphat, most cross border shoppers in Windsor will know this view St. Josaphat gives you when heading south on the I-75.

As you can see in the photo above, compared to the rendering, the entrance doors were moved from the front middle, to either side.

This church was built to replace the first church built in 1873, at the corner of Windsor Avenue & Chatham St., which was destroyed by fire January 4, 1904.

The cornerstone from the original 1873 church was relaid by the south entrance, while a new 1904 cornerstone was laid near the north door on October 19, 1904.

The Evening Record carried a full account of the sealing of the new cornerstone:

The articles placed in the cornerstone were:

Copy of the program
Minutes of conference, 1904
Christian Guardian
Canadian Epworth Era
Pleasant Hours
Photograph of the church built in 1873
Photograph of the church after the fire
Windsor Evening Record
Windsor Standard
Financial statement of the city of Windsor, 1903
Report of the public library, 1903
Daily Mail and Empire
Daily Globe
Canadian coins
Detroit Tribune
Michigan Christian Advocate
and a Document
(containing all the costs to build the church, as well as a list of all officers of the church)

So other than that god awful back lit sign on front facade, it hasn’t changed too much in the last 105 years. While downtown has boomed and busted around it, it has stayed steady.

6 Comments on Central United Church

  1. This Church is definitely a gem. It’s nice to be able to look at it while waiting for a bus across the street.

  2. I had heard a rumour that when this was built or when there was a renovation they had found the bones of a child buried at the site. Not sure if this is true or not but it is a rumour I have heard a few times.

  3. I’ll add another rumour to the mill, I know a guy designs fire systems and he was in that church a couple years ago and the place is apparently falling apart. His estimate was that it needed major work soon since it’s mostly a wood structure and was terribly rotted. I guess the dome is in serious trouble. I hope he was wrong.

    It’s kind of sad that they’ve hidden this place by building such large buildings so close to it.

  4. Joel,

    That’s probably wrong. The article about the tenders listed the structural steel as being awarded to the Canadian Bridge Company of Walkerville.

    So it’s steel framed, not wood framed. The dome is supported by steel trusses as well. So it should be safe.

  5. The high buildings so close to it were built by the Church itself as I recall. They built the Cencourse Bldg as a revenue getter and I’m sure if they still own it , they’re doing okay. The apt bldg was one of the first seniors only bldgs in the city with low rent. As those first renters died or moved out, the new renters were not protected for rent increases. When it was discovered in the late 80s that these original renters were still paying in the 200s for the same apt as others were paying in the 500s, there was a huge hue and cry, and they were forced to gradually raise their rent too. Back then OAS was roughly $500 a month, much like today, so you can see how some were being impoverished — food or medicine or a roof, let me think. Hmmm.

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